Suzanne Mathis-McQueen is a writer and author of the book 4 Seasons in 4 Weeks. After reading thousands of self-help and wellness book, I’ve found McQueen’s book to be one of the most transformational. I’ve even adapted my life to it.
I spoke to her about her book on IAWP’s “Wellness Coach Wednesdays” call. Whether you’re still cycling, in menopause, or beyond, you’ll want to read on about what McQueen has to say about our monthly cycles.
There’s More to the Menstrual Cycle Than Hormones
Suzanne Mathis McQueen’s book takes the 28-day menstrual cycle and shows how each week has its own energy. We all know the different phases: menstruation (the period), the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase.
But how do these phases relate to your day-to-day life? Can you connect to what these phases mean?
For example, recalling the follicular phase can take a moment — ”What’s that again?”
Suzanne shared that what’s good to know about the follicular phase is that we’re “sexually intoxicated.” So we’re a little high and we feel open to say yes to anything! But being open to saying yes means we need to be careful to what we’re saying yes to.
Just like the follicular phase is about building the egg that will be released in ovulation, we’re building our lives, too.
And you may not feel like anything is happening after being done with your period — but so much is happening.
You may not realize this but these physiological changes that we go through every month have a spiritual layer to them. But once you discover this layer, it will not only be eye-opening but also empowering. Eventually, you’ll get really good at noticing these transitions.
McQueen started in this work when she owned a day spa. She noticed she wasn’t making consistent decisions, depending on the week — and it really bothered her.
So she decided to start tracking her cycle to see if she could get a little insight on this pattern of her inconsistent decision making. And not for fertility or contraception.
But McQueen grew up in an age where talking about your cycle was frowned upon. It makes you look weak. It made you not be considered for jobs. “Even the feminist movement did not even want to talk about the cycle.”
After keeping notes in her day planner about her days, out of the blue, she noticed one day that her cycle looked like the four seasons — fall, winter, spring, and summer. So she saw that she was on day 18 of her cycle, Week Three, or “spring.”
Soon the optimal times to take action or to rest, to respond to emails or to wait, became apparent, and how she was a different version of herself each week.
We’re 4 different versions of ourselves during our menstrual cycles.
McQueen practiced this method of tracking her monthly cycles for 7 years before she decided to write about it. What spun her to action was through an unlikely conversation.
A male friend of hers, a scientist, who she saw at a class reunion, was talking about his wife’s PMS in a very derogatory way. So she said that she’d send him this system so he could understand his wife better.
She expected him to think her idea was dumb, but he instead said that she should write about this because he now better understood his wife and daughter. He wondered why we hadn’t been teaching about the female cycle like McQueen’s system.
The four seasons of a woman’s cycle is important to both men and women.
The Four Phases
McQueen laid out four phases that can be used not only during a menstrual cycle but also during the day with our circadian rhythms.
- Sleeping at night would consist of the resting phase.
- Getting up in the morning is the building phase.
- When we hit our stride during the day is the expressing phase.
- As we get tired at the end of the day is the deconstructing phase.
And then the cycle starts again when we go to bed to sleep for the night.
And this same cycle is the same for women, stretched out over a 28-day period. It’s not that you’ve changed your mind about something from week to week. It’s that you’re looking at it from a different viewpoint. And each week gives us a new gift of how to leverage ourselves in a unique way.
Women have a “well-rounded womb wisdom” that we must embody to tap into our feminine power.
Your Period as a Time of Rest and Reflection
Whether you call it your moon phase, Aunt Flo visiting, or Shark Week, the resting phase, also known as your period or menstruation isn’t something you should dread. McQueen would call this the fall season. She also called this a new moon phase.
“Each week builds onto the next,” McQueen said. So understanding the Week One, or the resting phase involves understanding the energy of rest.
You may be thinking, “I don’t have time to rest!” but rest is an essential part of not only your daily life but also your monthly cycle.
“If you don’t rest, it will screw up the rest of your month, I guarantee it,” McQueen said.
You have to be really disciplined to take this week of rest. You may catch a second wind during your period, but you shouldn’t be fooled by it.
This is a time for rebooting and your body needs the rest!
You should take the time to nurture and take care of yourself, especially during Week One.
If you’re still busy and running around during Week One, you may miss this magical time of heightened intuition and increased insight.
McQueen also calls your period the “visionary week” and believes you get “your best downloads, your best ideas, and your best ability to plan out” events.
Another gift you receive from your period is the gift of reflection. McQueen likes to reflect on her ancestors and what gifts they’ve given to her through her DNA.
The Building Phase — Party On!
So we come off the cocoon of Week One’s restful period and have a bit of a coming out party in Week Two. McQueen called this a waxing gibbous moon phase.
The building phase (also known as the follicular phase) is where, physiologically, the uterine lining is building so it can create a nutrient home for a future fertilized egg.
McQueen explained that she compares the building phase to the winter seasons because, just like winter, everything looks dormant. But underground, seeds are germinating.
So spiritually, the building phase is like a construction zone. You’re getting help to build your life, to see the opportunities coming your way.
Also, you may notice that during the building phase, your hair is shinier, your skin looks great, and your sex drive may get a big boost. And the reason for that is because biologically, your body is getting you ready to go find a mate. This is what gynecologist Dr. Rebecca Booth has called the Venus Week.
McQueen called this as the “party girl phase,” because you’ll be more susceptible to drugs and alcohol, and to say yes to everything. So you have to be careful!
But besides being mindful of this phase, you should enjoy it! McQueen suggested that this is the optimal time for going out and networking to attract new clients, wearing some fun clothes, and having heart-to-heart talks with your loved ones.
The Expressing Phase: Enter the Wise Woman
McQueen also calls the expressing phase, or ovulation, the full moon phase of a woman’s cycle. This is the summer season and she had a lot to say about how important it was to embrace the full moon’s energy during this time, how we are wired for it:
“You are in perfect spiritual alignment. You are goddess energy. There’s nothing more primordial than a sperm and egg coming together. And there’s nothing more spiritual than creation coming together. You are this perfect earth-spirit alignment being. You are emanating the most powerful thing in the universe.”
How we’re taught in sex ed is that after ovulation, it all goes downhill from there. But McQueen believes that our bodies actually aren’t fully sure if we’re pregnant or not. It’s waiting to see.
We’re still on this sort of high like we had in Week Two, but it’s more balanced. There’s a noticeable dip in energy from the party girl phase, where our estrogen levels have now dropped.
Then the hormone progesterone increases and starts fluffing the nest for pregnancy. It’s a very queenly, mothering phase. But whether you’re hoping to get pregnant or not, progesterone puts you into a more reflective, “wise woman” mode.
So if you’re needing to make some decisions about your money, where you live, the state of your relationships, then Week Three is a great time.
The Deconstructing Phase: In It to Win It
Once your body determines that you’re not going to be pregnant, then your progesterone levels will drop as well. Then you’ll transform from the world leader who is more collaborative to the athlete who is more edgy and competitive.
So in the luteal phase, also known as the deconstructing phase, this is your peak performance time. McQueen called this a firewalk time, a time of initiation and ceremony. This could be also considered as the waning gibbous moon.
We know this as PMS or premenstrual syndrome, that sensitive time before your period. So when you would usually cry at a sad movie but break into sobs, or you would get a little frustrated with traffic but instead fly into road rage, McQueen called those “hot spots.”
These prickly moments are important messages. They let you know that you are in the middle of your firewalk, that your body is breaking things down before your period begins.
So how can you handle these hot spots and prevent them from burning yourself and others? It requires focus.
Notice as these issues arise, but know that it doesn’t mean it’s time to talk about these issues now. Ask yourself: why is this upsetting me? Why am I angry?
By doing this, you’ll discover what you value and what is most important to you. Just write it down and save it for later so you can prevent some future regret.
For example, if you need to have a heart-to-heart with someone, talk to them in Week Two or Three, instead of during this week where you’re feeling edgy.
All in the Timing
As a woman, you have an inner GPS that guides you, and it’s your monthly cycle. If you start tracking it, you’ll learn that there are certain optimal times to accomplish certain things.
It really pays to be mindful of what week you’re in. Soon, you can feel less out of control with hormonal fluctuations and more in control of your life.