A book for the first period? Yes, that actually exists! Antje has fulfilled an inner need of period education with the book Happy Period. Now she tells us about the beginnings of the period book, her intentions, and why addressing and educating about menstruation is so important:
Briefly introduce yourself to our readers!
My name is Antje. I have a M.Sc. in Architecture and three years of work experience in different architecture offices until I radically changed my life five years ago. At that time I suffered a lot from the stressful working world full of deadlines, little connectedness and thereby crazy menstrual cycle complaints. Today I realize I was trying to be like a “man” back then. A tantric massage then led me into the depths of my body and it was clear to me at that moment, I want to learn and pass on exactly that. Appreciation and connection with myself became my compass. So I have been following the call of my heart ever since. Today I am a self-employed body therapist specializing in womb space work with women. I work in 1:1 sessions and give online workshops such as Yoni Mapping.
How did you come up with the idea for the book for the first period?
The idea for the first period book came to me in September 2019 on the island of Koh Phangan in Thailand. I was meditating a lot at the time, my mind was wonderfully empty and running on receive mode. Over and over during the meditations I asked, “What is my purpose?” One morning while brushing my teeth, a deep male voice came through me and said rather forcefully, “Write a book for girls who are getting their periods for the first time.” I didn’t take it seriously at first, but there was like a fire inside me that didn’t go away until I had written down an initial structure of the book. I realized all the knowledge for it was already there.
Over the past five years, I have come to understand and appreciate my cycle more and more. I have aligned what I do and don’t do as a self-employed person with my menstrual cycle. For example, the bad period pains have disappeared. Through my womb space work with women, I was sensitized to the fact that people with yonis are unfortunately very often cut off from their bodies and their sexual sensations.
There is a desire in me that from an early age we teach young menstruators all this knowledge in a loving way. What would this world be like if young menstruators built a positive relationship with their periods and their bodies from the very beginning? My book project Happy Period is based on this vision.
What was your journey like from the idea to the finished book? Where are you right now?
After two years of being pregnant with the book for the first period, it’s now freshly self-published! Yay!!! The idea burned so much in me at the time, I didn’t know what to do with it at first. And so I googled, “How do I write a book?”. That was super helpful and so I wrote myself a commitment letter.
I think what’s special about the project is that it felt guided from the beginning. It wanted to come into the world. In the creative process, I kept asking questions in meditations, like about the cover image and the title, and then getting answers. People who motivated me always showed up in my life when I wanted to give up.
My work experience as an architect has given me the necessary skills such as discipline, but also how to structure the content and present it as simply as possible. When I decided to illustrate the book myself, it felt like a long-silenced part of me had come back. I started painting again. It was overall a fantastic creative process with the right balance of self-discipline and “feeling guided.”
What was your most beautiful moment during the first period project Happy Period?
The most beautiful moment was when I opened the first box of the book delivery and fell around my best friend’s neck with excitement. To realize that the idea suddenly materialized. Like a real baby. All of this is only possible because of the great support of so many people during the Happy Period crowdfunding on Startnext in the summer. After three weeks of the campaign, I had enough money together to have a first print run of 750 copies printed. Yeah!!! Seeing how many people want loving education for young menstruators and making it happen is incredibly awesome!
What is your wish for the period book?
I would like Happy Period to be translated into many languages and reach as many young menstruators as possible. Also, I want the book to help transform the still negative feelings associated with this period in our society. The book can be a wonderful gift from parents to their children to walk with them through the exciting time of puberty. But I also get more and more heartwarming messages from menstruators of all different ages who, by reading Happy Period, have once again consciously positively charged their own initiation into cyclical life. That’s what the dedication says: “For all girls* and those who used to be.”
Why is positive education so important?
I am convinced that all experiences and beliefs are stored in our body cells. How we experience our first period, for example, has a lifelong effect on us and everyone around us, some of it unconscious. For example, as a young menstruating person, if I experience love, support and self-confidence during this phase, I will perceive being a menstruating person as something positive and be aware of my self-worth. As a teenager, I had fear drilled into me above all else. Just don’t get pregnant now! I had the thought early on that being a woman in this society kind of sucks and is unfair. If I had practiced my cyclical existence and the qualities of it from the beginning, I’m sure a few things in my life would have been different.
What do you find particularly exciting about menstruation?
Understanding that menstruation is just one part of the menstrual cycle. It’s such an eye-opener to realize that menstruators are cyclical beings and that this society is built on a linear system. These are fundamentally opposing principles that often only become apparent upon a second look. I always find it exciting to think about what this society would be like if the natural cyclical principle underlay everything instead. My life has become so much more intense and vibrant since I’ve been valuing my cyclical, feminine existence and practicing my life around it.
What is your favorite illustration or passage of text from your book for the first period?
My favorite illustration is the sister circle under the moon cycles in the starry sky. The image is very special to me and reminds me of the incredible power we menstruators have when we come together. We can be an incredible anchor for each other, no matter what phase we are in. In the end, it’s about community and knowing that we are not alone.
Do you have any tips on how we can build a positive relationship with our period/cycle?
Yes, I write about that in the book as well. I myself have a ritual for every time I get my period. I light a candle and write down what all happened in the last cycle. What was great, what am I proud of, what doesn’t need to happen again and may leave my system with the blood. I find the period to be an incredibly intelligent phenomenon, through which our body tells us all sorts of things. In the meantime I am looking forward to my period and the inner process of letting go.
In a second step, I also write down everything I want for the next cycle and can then look at the next cycle ritual to see what has materialized. So my sense of time has really changed and I now think more cyclically than linearly.
You can find Antje here:
Thank you for your work and having me along! Meanwhile the book as well as some illustrations from the book are available via my website www.antjeheymann.com. I’m happy if you stop by, give feedback on the book and follow me on Instagram.