The Femme Stories is a blog series celebrating the makers who inspire and empower their community, and continue to gift us with their creativity; these are their stories.

Lauren | Finding Julian

I have known Lauren as the second half of the Cheerfully Made team for years now, but this past year I also discovered she was a cycle coach, building her own brand, a website & a cyclical living course. That brand is Finding Julian and these last couple months I got to follow her journey through the power of social media, and to say I fan-girled out is an understatement. My mom is a nurse, so I was raised to have a strong knowledge of my body, my period and all that comes with being a woman, but as Lauren started talking about her course and how she had built it around being a maker and how to harness your cycle for the power of creativity, well let’s just say I signed up for her Newsletter ASAP to join in on her inaugural course.
We talked for Femme Stories before the launch, but I put the finishing touches on the post after I had completed her six week course. I give my feedback at the end of this post, but I loved talking with her about how little we are taught about our own bodies as women and love that she is taking it on to help educate anyone who has the strong desire to know more about what happens to us each month.
Lauren from Finding Julian
A lot of creators in the Ottawa area will know you as half of the Cheerfully Made team, helping put shows together for us, what has your journey been before coming to be a part of Cheerfully Made. 

I have definitely had a journey! I always loved creative writing, so I went to university for journalism and realized that it is not creative writing. They cut out all of your adjectives and adverbs, which are my favourite words. After not loving my job options, I decided to just take my degree and go. I headed to Toronto and worked retail for a bit and really loved it, but eventually when I moved back home, I got my real estate license. My mom is an agent and I worked with her for five years.

I am a big believer in the universe and how it guides you, and towards the end of being an agent, I felt like I was hitting my head against a wall. I was frustrated with my performance. I was always good at what I did, I just wasn’t enjoying it as much as I should have. This is how I came to start at Cheerfully Made. I had never been in the shop, but I followed Emily on Instagram and she posted that they were hiring and I thought it would be nice to give my brain a bit of space to help figure out what I wanted to do. I had always thought of running my own business and I figured this would be the easiest way to learn, work in that environment, get close to Emily and hopefully she would show me all of her secrets, which I was totally upfront with her about.

 After working in the shop for a bit, I volunteered to help with the Etsy market. Basically, from there on out I kept badgering her to give me more responsibility. I knew she had been burned in the past by new hires so she was hesitant to let go, but as I stayed consistent, she was more open to letting me post on social media and eventually taking over the online portion.

During the pandemic I transitioned to working with her full time and because of that we became close friends! Neither of us stopped working when that hit and I think it saved us. The job I am doing now is the one I asked for after the first fall market I worked, but at the time she couldn’t do that, and now that’s the job I am doing. So, I worked my way in! 

When and how did your journey of becoming a Cycle Coach come about?

A few years ago, I listened to a business podcast with Claire Baker as the guest and she was talking about how you can work creatively within your cycle and how there’s different seasons beyond just menstruation. This was the first time I’d ever heard someone talk about our cycles in this way. 

At the time, I was on hormonal birth control and I’d spoken to my doctor about how whenever I had the sugar pills at the end of my pack I would get such headaches, like migraine level headaches. She told me they were withdrawal headaches and she recommended that I skip my period and only have it every three months, i.e. continue my packs, and I won’t get these headaches. So, I did that for a while because I was of the mindset that our periods were such an inconvenience. The more I thought about it though, it started to concern me. It got me thinking, what is this medication that I am taking that is so potent and strong that I’m getting withdrawal headaches? I really didn’t love that idea. 

Hearing Claire talk, I felt like this was information that I should have known because I am a woman and I bleed once a month. I just felt a little angry, to be honest, that I didn't know any of this and it took me on a journey of self-discovery. I began to educate myself by taking some of Claire’s courses she offered. Last year she announced that she was going to start to train others to be Cycle Coaches, so they can teach other people and help spread the word!

It is work that I felt really called to because it has changed my life in so many ways. That anger that I initially felt about not knowing any of this information has kind of transformed into, ‘Okay, I’m not the person to teach everyone, but I am the person to teach some people.’ I think when people first hear about it, they sometimes think it's a little woo woo, or like spiritual, and while there definitely is a spiritual element to it, it is based in biology. We are not actually taught how our bodies work, we’re taught that if you have sex, you will get pregnant and you're going to die and periods are bad and an inconvenience to everyone. 

Women are so often told to just show up, every day, keep your mood the same, don't let anyone know and you'll be fine, and the feminist in me has always raged at this. I feel like we are taught it is our weakness, but when you actually study your cycle, we're the more consistent sex. Our hormones do the exact same thing every month and if you recognize the patterns, you know exactly how you're going to feel every week. 

I feel like everyone is so scared to talk to young women about sex, but it leaves us all at a disadvantage, and not knowing how our own bodies function.

Yeah, this whole industry, well it's barely an industry, right now it’s more like a popup tent, but the more you learn, the more you realize there is to learn. So now I am kind of diving into the fertility awareness method, which is a method that you can use to avoid pregnancy or eventually to get pregnant. The thing is your body gives you all of the clues of when it's fertile and if we just taught young women: this is when your body's fertile, these are the signs, this is how you track it. If we taught and shared this information, we would be empowering so many to know and understand their bodies! 

You mention on your site your obsession with women, was this instilled by maternal figures in your life? 

My mom is definitely a force to be reckoned with. I think, growing up I've always had girlfriends, mostly because any male friends I ever had usually ended up asking me out, which ok fair enough. I've always been more attracted to the female energy and when I was a kid, I would always like hanging out with my friends’ parents, like their moms and stuff. So, I've always been really inspired by women and their journeys. 

I think back to when I lived in Toronto and worked in retail, there was this one customer who stands out to me, who showed me, this is what I want to do with this work. She came into the shop (it was a clothing store) and she was very quiet and kept to herself. I could tell that she was closed off, energy wise, she was wanting to be alone, but I was having a great day and kept checking in on her, making sure she was finding everything she needed and eventually she started coming out of the change room and I started bringing her more stuff to try on. Little by little she started coming out of her shell and by the end, she was asking for recommendations and asking for jewelry. She ended up leaving with a bunch of clothes and jewelry and her energy had shifted completely. She was feeling good about herself, she was excited, she was happy and she left the store feeling that much better. I definitely wasn't in it for the sales, there was no commission or anything, it was just amazing to watch that instant transformation and it felt good to me to know I can make people feel better. 

I'm definitely a forward thinker, so I always had this thought of how do I scale this for the future? How do I affect more women? That’s where this work comes in, where my motivation to inspire, motivate and encourage women comes in, it just fits perfectly.

The story behind the name of your site is beautiful. For people that are new to you, can you explain the name Finding Julian? 

Finding Julian has been the name of my company for seven or eight years now, even before I knew what that company would look like. It is inspired by my maternal grandmother's companion. Growing up he [Julian] was just always there. There's a picture of me in the hospital when I was born, and the two of them are holding me and getting excited because I was a girl. I have two older brothers and I was the first granddaughter, so they were excited. 

Julian was an artist; his father was also an artist. His dad was actually the artist who designed the shields for the eternal flame on parliament. Julian was such a creative force, which was kind of unique for me. My dad was in sales and my mom eventually was in sales, so to see someone with a creative mind inspired me. He was always drawing and sketching, his cards were usually handmade and he always instilled in me this creative spirit. That it is worthwhile to pursue. 

Having Julian in my life was such a source of comfort, community, unconditional love and creativity. So, for me, Finding Julian is finding all of those things. Finding that sense of belonging, creativity, warmth and comfort.

 I love that you link creativity and our businesses to our cycles. What moment in your life did this really click for you that we needed to be more conscious of this as women?

 I think that aha moment was over this past year doing this cycle coach training, and just recognizing that your cycle is a bigger picture. I think it is hard because the season you start tracking your cycle is your winter phase, and you're supposed to start with rest, but here in North America, that's a really hard concept. Here you earn your rest, you burn out and then you rest and that is seen as success. This course flips that notion on its head, where you start by resting and that's how you get your energy.

 For me, how it all clicked into place is realizing you have to be really patient with yourself, because when you menstruate, your winter phase, you have to rest. Then you move to your spring phase, pre-ovulation, you are still that little rose just starting to bud. When you really think of how long Spring is and how long it takes from bud to bloom, you can’t rush that.

 Even right now, I am day five of my cycle, so I’m coming out of my bleed, I'm feeling that estrogen and I'm feeling that energy surge. Before this course, I would just dive back into work. I would start to hustle hard and be like, yes, my energy is coming back and then by ovulation, I'd be burnt out. So, it's just recognizing the rhythm of your cycle and being like, no, I need to go slow so that by the time ovulation comes around, I will have this unlimited energy, and it'll be unreal and I will get a million things done.

 Then your Autumn, pre-menstruum, that's the time to go inwards, you’re wrapping up your work, you're preparing again for your rest. But if you try to rush any of these steps, you're going to be burnt out, you're going to be exhausted and you're going to be frustrated. Right now, I'm planning my course that I'm going to be launching next week. I would love to hustle and just be done, but I would have no energy by the end of my cycle. So, the big switch for me was fully recognizing that you need to rest, you need to build that energy before you can use it rather than using up your energy and then being burnt out and crashing.

 Your bi-annual course sounds incredible, what can people expect from this course?

 It will be six weeks long, and there is a lot of great content. It will be structured around audio and a workbook for each week, mostly so people can disconnect from their computers. I love the idea of listening to this audio while going for a walk-in nature. It’s a little bit of listening, reading and writing. In the sixth week, we will do a zoom call, like a closing ceremony, where we can all connect and end on that community note.

 What are you currently reading?

 I listen to a lot of audio business books when I walk, but in my everyday life I love fantasy romance novels. So, the book I am reading right now is A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik.

I was eager to do Lauren’s course the more she promoted it, but it exceeded all my expectations. Again, I am saying this as a person who, being raised by a nurse, was taught to know a lot about my body, how it functioned, how my mood and emotional state was impacted week to week by my hormones. What Lauren does though, is take this information and apply it to how we should be living our lives as creatives and business owners. Pushing us to recognize when it is time to rest, when is the time to push, when is the time to create. All in all, we might say yes, I know all this, but how she words these beautiful audio clips, it pushed me to actually do it! So many of us run our own companies but feel guilty taking days off, I know I do. Taking Lauren’s Cyclical Living Course has pushed me to take Friday’s off again, and I have it mapped out for my next period to take off Day 1of my cycle. As Lauren says, this isn’t always possible, sometimes life happens, but when it is why not give yourself that time and comfort you need!

I can’t recommend this course enough, past the incredible information, Lauren’s amazing way of making it informative, fun and easy to get through, I loved every week of it.

The next chance to take the course will be at the end of September, until then I recommend checking out the Finding Julian website. It has lots of great resources and signing up for her Newsletter so you can be a part of the next Cyclical Living course.

Written by Carissa McCaig

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