Kayla Gebert is on a one-person crusade to help women find their power through more awareness of their menstrual cycles.
The North Islander moved to Oamaru in January and, through her Instagram accounts @navigoddess and @thewellnessplanner–, she is encouraging women to turn inward and record how they are feeling at different times of the month, through journaling.
“I created The Wellness Planner to help connect women to their menstrual cycles, but in the wider scheme of things, it’s a lot deeper than that,” Miss Gebert said.
“I guess the biggest thing that stands out to me is the disconnection between ourselves and our cycles, and how a lot of us are completely unaware that our periods or our menstrual cycles, are actually cycles.
“It’s kind of like your own unique blueprint of who you are.”
About three years ago, she went through a relationship breakdown. She left her home, with her young son, and moved back to her home town of Opotiki.
“I was laying on the bed one day, and I just felt really lost and disconnected from myself and my entire family, even my son. So I just started going down this self-education rabbit hole, and then I came across menstrual cycle awareness .. I was introduced to what we call the inner seasons of our cycle, and I started tracking my cycle and navigating my way through those seasons.”
The inner seasons paralleled the outer seasons of nature, she said.
“At the time, when I started diving into this, I didn’t have a relationship with my cycle at all, so I didn’t know … and now I am more in that flow of understanding what winter season is, when you’re bleeding, and how to use the energy of your spring phase, summer phase, autumn phase and how those phases can actually help bring you out of old patterns with behaviour, or symptoms that you experience.”
She described the practice of keeping track of her cycle like a “ritual”.
“I like to suggest to people who want to start tracking their cycles, that they just begin with pen and paper, and draw themselves a little map, and just start where they’re at. Because a lot of women don’t actually even know when their last period was.”
The Wellness Planner was designed by Miss Gebert and printed in Dunedin. She had a small amount printed, which sold quickly, and was in the process of tweaking it before her next print, for which she already had pre-orders.
Many people had reached out to her since they had started their own journaling.
“They’re loving it, because they’re able to experience themselves and their lives in a completely new way.”
Taking notice of how the different seasons of the cycle affected your energy and mood could help you structure your life around it.
“Spring is like, new habits, ideas – you get really great insight in this season, where you’re planning for things. Then summer is ovulation, so there’s naturally a lot more energy in that phase to get things done. I call it the action phase.
“Then autumn is like a celebration or reflection of what you’ve achieved, because in autumn, things start to come up that are not in alignment with what you’ve intended, and then you’re able to edit anything that needs to be edited, or closed off, and things like that. And then winter … a new cycle begins.”
Miss Gebert also works as a manager at McDonald’s in Oamaru. Her parents had lived in the North Otago area for about 13 years, which also enticed her south.
She began her Navigoddess Instagram page at the same time as she moved to Oamaru, but the idea came to her back when she started her own journaling.
The whole process had been life-changing for her.
“I am actually the happiest I have ever been.
“It’s changed so much in the way that my relationships with other people are really deep and connected and supportive, and that’s just purely because, my main priority is myself, and obviously my son’s my priority as well. But I think a lot of us, we always put ourselves on the backburner and put ourselves last, and it’s a disservice to the people around us that we love.”
Journaling allowed women to “embrace” their cycles rather than viewing them as something they had to put up with.
“A lot of us relate to our cycles in a negative way, and I want to provide a different perspective on that, where we actually love our cycles and our bodies, ourselves and our lives.”
In the future, Miss Gebert hoped to share her message more widely.
“I’m in the middle of launching a big project, which has a lot of online elements to it, like workshops and stuff. I’ve definitely always seen myself speaking on some level, so yeah, I’m moving through the fear of that.”
She particularly wanted to work with teenage girls, due to the loss of a daughter, who was stillborn 14 years ago.
“I feel like there’s things I would love to have taught her about this stuff.
“I just know, a lot of us grow up and we’re not given the right information that we need, especially where cycle-awareness is concerned. You know, we’re not fertile every day of the week. And there are natural ways of charting your cycle, where you can understand and be aware of when ovulation is.
“She’d probably be getting her cycle now, and I just think, show her this’, so I feel like it’s my duty almost, and probably her putting this in my awareness.”