“If I don’t bring kindness towards my own body, what I’m feeling and what I’m going through, I will burn out, or get sick or depleted.” - Corinne Konrad Calder
Leading from heartbreak & joy, living an embodied life and embracing your Cycle.
Corinne Konrad Calder |
Founder, Raw & Rich
13 years ago, Swiss born Corinne Konrad Calder found herself unable to get out of bed after a demanding lifestyle of travel, adventure and a fast paced career left her completely depleted and burnt out. The experience led Corinne, now a Feminine Embodiment Teacher, Coach, Menstrual Cycle Awareness Teacher, Birth Doula and founder of Women’s Temple Hong Kong, to find her soul purpose in working with, and bringing together women of all ages and different walks of life. I first met Corinne at The Garden Gathering festival a few years ago, moved by her presence and passion for this work I went on to attend the Women’s Temple regularly and then train as a facilitator in the training that she organised with Awakening Women last year. In this interview, Corinne speaks about the importance of women learning to not only understand, but to appreciate and embrace the power of our menstrual cycle in today’s modern world.
Corinne, I’m going to jump straight in…what are you ambitious about?
You know, it is a word I never use, and in some ways I think I like the word ‘committed’ more. Somehow I resonate more with committed or devoted, because for me that ultimately leads me more towards the heart, towards what is really important. I guess there are different things I’m committed about. First and foremost, I think to really live my life in integrity with who I am and that influences the work that I do - from the inner going out. My work is about what excites me, what brings me joy, what brings me heartbreak. All of that is something that wants to come through me, or my essence and if I can stay as close to that as much as possible, then I think I am in alignment and I am living a life of integrity.
Can you tell us more about what you mean by “the inner going out”?
Let's take the practice of kindness with myself, I learned that if I don’t bring kindness towards my own body, what I’m feeling and what I’m going through, I will burn out, get sick or depleted. So I had to learn to take better care and be kinder with myself – an inner work first which then led me to come from a kinder place in the outer world.
So, I’m committed to being kind, and living kindness with myself and the people around me.
It comes back to the integrity of walking my talk and being very mindful around how I’m going out there and doing my work, it’s not just work, it's actually something I practice and live in my life.
You mention living a life of integrity, and what informs that is what makes you feel joy, and what makes you feel heartbreak - can you tell us more about the things that bring you joy, and how does that then lead into your work?
What brings me joy is bringing women together in groups and one-on-one with me, being real with each other and being on a level where we can be ourselves about everything that’s going on. Not looking at the differences, but kind of just feeling into where we have similarities in our experiences of this life in a woman's body.
What brings me joy is bringing women together…being real with each other and being on a level where we can be ourselves.
Experiencing the female body and exploring things that are unique to a woman like menstruation, pregnancy and childbirth, female sexuality, the way we may also just feel more sometimes, more emotions. Providing a space where women feel safe to open up and explore their inner world. Bringing them inwards and at the same time helping them to connect safely with other women. To provide that space for women to come together, whether it’s with me one-on-one or whether in groups, that is what brings me joy.
Many of the women that come to your workshops or to Women’s Temple are in a busy business or corporate role. How does the experience of women being with other women and connecting with themselves and their body, help them in their outer world?
When we come together with other women we get a physical experience and a new reference point of what it feels like to relax around another woman - to say clearly what you want and don't want. It’s not something from the head, it’s not something that you read somewhere and then you go and do it. It’s something where your body starts to relax and create new memories within it, and then you go outside and you automatically start to feel different inside the body. It’s a lot about really creating new reference points within the body.
It’s about learning to listen to each other, learning to be kind with each other, learning to be honest with each other. It’s talking about our boundaries - being able to say no to another sister because you realise you just don’t have the capacity right now, or simply don’t feel a ‘YES’.
A lot of women just don’t have that experience of being truly listened to and giving voice to their inner wisdom, their truth. If a woman is given some time, where someone is asking her questions and they just listen to her, she hears herself talking and she learns, “Oh wow, someone is really listening, someone is really here with me interested in what’s actually going on.'' And in that moment alone, healing happens and as women leave the space, this memory of being heard and seen stays with them and ripples out into the rest of their life.
What makes this important to experience for women today?
I attract similar women who have a similar story to mine, who were for a long time in the world of being driven, constantly doing, a lot of women who are burnt out, who are always out and about, who try to please others. That is all coming from a place of not enough healthy feminine, I see that everywhere. For me, it was important to trust the process of softening, of going slow, of patience and turning inwards, off not having to have all the answers right away and stepping back and trusting. For me, at first that was a difficult thing to learn.
Menstrual cycle awareness, for me, has been the best teacher and inner coach that I could have ever found personally.
It feels to me that, as women we are really entering a new time where we’re finding a middle way. It’s like we have historically had two options - lose our femininity altogether and have all the hard edges in order to be successful, or be soft and nurturing, people pleasing and over-giving…
Yes, when I work with women, it’s not just about being in the feminine, it is really about combining the beauty and the strength of the masculine and the feminine within one person, and embodying both. Not being afraid of the masculine - on focusing and structure and getting proactive and having a go at things - that’s all okay, as long as it’s not just that. That’s why menstrual cycle awareness, for me, has been the best teacher and inner coach that I could have ever found personally - in experiencing all these different energies and phases that I go through as a woman in one cycle. If I stay close to and honour that, I’m so much healthier physically, emotionally and spiritually as a woman in today's world.
Can you tell us more about how you came to be more aware of your cycle and how you bring it into your work with women?
After my burnout in 2006, I moved from London back to Switzerland and stayed within the [Touring, Sponsorship & Event Marketing] industry but spent a couple of years learning to look after myself within that industry and set better boundaries. After that much needed healing, I took some time out and learned different modalities for myself like teaching Yin Yoga and learned about the Yin and the Yang, and that concept [of the feminine] came into my vision. Being burnt out was like an initiation to me, inviting me to slow down, go inward. At that point, I didn’t even associate that message with the feminine.
When I then moved to Brazil with my husband several years later, I didn’t have a working visa so I was not allowed to work. At the time, I knew that it was going to be such a challenge for me - first of all to move there knowing that I wasn’t going to make my own money and would be dependant on him financially for a while. But more so, what was I going to do with all that time that I would usually be doing something? I was in Rio de Janeiro and I didn’t have a goal or something that I could hang onto - no meaning or real purpose. I wanted and needed that experience. For the first time in my life I had a lot of space and I was in Rio - a very playful city. In Rio de Janeiro, you’re a successful person when you can get a lot of fun and pleasure into your life - and not when you work hours on end at work. That was so refreshing to me, so of course the environment itself helped me as well.
When I was there I came across a book by Sara Avant Stover called The Way of the Happy Woman. I went to study with her in Mexico and I learned more about my cycle. What it took was one woman just talking about the cycle in a different light, from a different perspective. Basically before, it was just something that happened once a month. I didn’t suffer in terms of menstrual pain, but I felt it to be a bit annoying, and I couldn’t really do sports the way I wanted - it was something to be dealt with. Something we have to bear as women, because one day we have children and having a period is part of that.
What it took was one woman just talking about the cycle in a different light, from a different perspective.
What I learned from Sara at the time was that there is so much more to my cycle. First of all, learning the map of the four seasons - lots of women use this because it is an easy one to connect to. Throughout the month or however long your cycle goes, you’re travelling through four different inner seasons, you’re travelling through a Spring, a Summer, a Winter and an Autumn. And each of these seasons comes with a certain quality, a certain energy, certain challenges possibly, depending on how you are wired as a person. For example, the Winter season, which is the time of your bleeding, that is really a time to go inwards, to rest, to nurture yourself. It’s a time to feel into the heart.
The Winter season, which is the time of your bleeding, that is really a time to go inwards, to rest, to nurture yourself.
For me, this was the kind of thing I would rather run away from, but I started to see the importance of it, and the benefit of it and I started to do it - that’s the thing. Reading about it, knowing about it, that is one thing, but you need the embodied experience of actually living it. That changed everything, it’s almost like it gave me permission - knowing that I’m a cyclical woman and not this constant linear sort of person being everyday the same, it gave me permission to do that. And I hear that a lot from the women who come to the workshops, it’s usually the first time they have permission to be cyclical, to own themselves. To give themselves permission to be a woman, and that is huge and so empowering.
Connecting with your menstrual cycle also gives you a reference point of what’s needed for the creative process, like rest and white space and dreaming things into being – these are all important phases of the creative cycle. These days we often just produce and run after the next best goal, but sometimes to produce and run after the next best thing is not what we really need, we need to actually let ourselves be and receive ideas and feel what’s important, to ask the question what brings you joy or heartbreak – both offering an important link to what it is you are meant to bring out more and share about with others.
And what about your heartbreak? How does that inform your work?
I think for me what really breaks my heart is to see the pain within people and the environment. I want to help bring wholesomeness back to life and humanity - living a wholesome life. Respecting the body, yourself and other people, the animals and the earth. It has a lot to do with respect and honouring.
I find it heartbreaking to see how the sacredness of birth and being born, has become an often very sterile, cold and rushed event.
And I find it heartbreaking when I see people using substance. You can just see, there’s such a beautiful being covered under all that stuff, a being in much pain.
You worked in Touring, Sponsorship & Event marketing for many years before you moved into your work through Raw & Rich, how has the experience of stepping into running a more unconventional business been for you?
What helped me [with the transition] was to connect to the bigger why of my desire to start my business – and this is what I then committed to.
What I started to offer had benefited me so greatly, I knew that there would be other women out there that would benefit from it as well, and I just needed to trust that. I had to trust myself, but also trust that women would resonate with it.
Of course I had moments where I was like, “Oh my god, no one understands me when I’m talking about this, women think it’s weird.” Sometimes I would have one woman come, sometimes no one would come for the first few months, and I thought, “I just have to keep doing it.” I had one evening where I did the temple and no one came - but I just thought, “I’m just in temple for myself tonight, there must be something in it for myself.”
I think that because I wanted to keep meeting with women in that space regularly, it came from the inside out. I felt that it supported me so I wanted to provide that space to other women.
Women’s Temple is not something you can put easily words to, what it is, it has to be experienced. I chose to trust that the women that were meant to come to temple and have that experience would find me. You need to trust the intelligence within people. It’s not something I need to sell - I can trust it, I can trust the feminine, I can trust the field I create when I do it.
For a busy woman, with or without children, a full job, what are your tips for connecting more with your cycle and harnessing the rhythm of that?
Starting to track your cycle, knowing where you are in your cycle - for some that might be the first step. I suggest for women to connect and engage more with their cycle before they want to have children.
You can engage with your cycle - it’s here for you to access and ride the waves with, not only to have children.
Of course, for some women it will happen after, we have to start where we are, but it is hugely beneficial for women to start with this as early as possible, because it shouldn’t just all become about, “I want to conceive now, I need to track my cycle”, this is a very masculine way to go about it, again.
Understand that the body is not just this thing that is here to conceive and give birth. You see more and more women want to have less children, or don’t want to have children at all. You can use the cyclical energy to create idea babies. That’s what I’ve been doing ever since I’ve been doing this work and it’s amazing. I think that is another part of the teaching women need to know. You can engage with your cycle - it’s here for you to access and ride the waves with, not only to have children.
It’s helpful to come together to talk about the story of your first menstruation, just having that embodied experience with other women, and hearing their stories.
Another issue for busy women is that spending time alone can create a lot of anxiety, or it can give that feeling of fear of missing out. For these women, maybe the first step is to become more comfortable going inwards, but together with others. So you could go to a Yin yoga class. While being in a Yin yoga pose, you go inwards, you soften, you stay with it, but there’s still other people around you.
Other than this, just bringing it back to the body, touching the body with a soft touch, being kind, saying thank you, I love you. Starting to bring more reverence back to that body that cares for you 24-hours a day. Becoming conscious of the womb space, the breasts, these womanly parts of our body, what else are they for besides giving birth to, nursing a child or making love? Be curious.