Today I want to share my review of the book “The Optimized Woman: Using Your Menstrual Cycle to Achieve Success and Fulfillment*” by Miranda Gray. Unfortunately I do not remember how I stumbled upon it, but I am so glad I did! It doesn’t even matter if you have a cycle yourself or if you live or work with someone having a cycle. This book will give you a new and more positive understanding of how females and their hormones work.
The author and her mission statement
According to the website optimizedwoman.com Miranda Gray is a published author, artist, an alternative therapy practitioner and Company Director of a multimedia production company. “The optimized woman” is not her first book about the power of the menstrual cycle either. The first book “Red Moon*” was published in 1994.
So why this fascination with that time of the month? Well, according to the author we have been (wrongly) casting negative judgements regarding our period far too long. She even goes to far to say that those changes we undergo each month give us “an unrealised powerhouse of tools”. This view is reflected in the books’ tagline “If you want to get ahead, get a cycle!”
Miranda is dissatisfied with personal development literature and coaching for not taking into account that we are changing throughout the month. And we are changing significantly as she details in a few chapters. Different brainwaves, for example. Hormones giving us heightened abilities in some regards and taking away skills in other areas. Reading through this was as baffling as it was enlightening. And to be honest – I felt found out more than a couple of times!
In a nutshell, Mrs. Gray wants to help women become aware of what she calls their “Optimum Times” and associated abilities. This way she wants to help us become more successful and happier in our daily lives.
So how do we become the optimized woman?
Miranda breaks down our cycle into four phases, each about 7 days long. The length of those can be adapted depending on your personal cycle. She also states clearly that everyone is unique and that this is a generalization to help women become aware of general patterns. So don’t worry if you don’t find yourself in every detail, nothing wrong with that!
For each of these phases there is a separate chapter, detailing which skills we will most likely have in that time. And also which areas of our life might be more difficult for us. While it is impossible to give all the details here, I want to roughly summarize the phases for you.
1. The Dynamic Phase
In the book the dynamic phase is regarded as the start of the cycle, even though it refers to cycle days 7 – 13. Pre-Ovulation. Why, you wonder? Well, as the name indicates, it is a phase of new energy after our period. We emerge like phoenix from the ashes and are ready to tackle a new cycle. Accordingly, this phase is the Optimum Time for anything that requires mental or physical energy, focus and structured thinking or simply a lot of confidence.
2. The Expressive phase
Cycle days 14-20, the days around ovulation or the so-called expressive phase. In those days we will be more sociable and empathetic. So Miranda suggests to use those skills for teamwork, meetings, working on our relationships with clients or in our private lives.
3. The Creative phase
This is the phase most of us dread. The pre-menstrual phase or the phase of wildly ranging emotions and trouble with ourselves and others on cycle days 21-28. According to the book though, this can be a perfect time for creative solution-finding and problem solving. If we can manage to give ourselves the understanding of what is going on within us, we can use this phase to our advantage instead of fearing it. Miranda does recommend to get a lot of alone time though.
4. The Reflective Phase
And finally, the menstrual phase. The time for resting and reflecting. Interestingly we are almost naturally meditative in this state, so we can use this time to really think about the big picture. According to the author this is also the best time to take big decisions as we will be most in tune with ourselves. If we take the time, that is.
What I loved about “The optimized woman”
I have been reading self development literature for quite a while now. It motivates me, it teaches me, it helps me grow. And still, sometimes I felt like I am completely lacking consistency with my newly learned techniques. Like I kept discovering them not working for me after all. Imagine my relief when Miranda writes about how many women feel that way, especially when it comes to self development. And when she says that we are not inconsistent. We are cyclical!
Of course I wasn’t as easily convinced. But reading through the different chapters, I kept finding myself in the descriptions. Patterns, worries, also strengths. So even if you do not intend to work through the “Optimized Woman Daily Plan” for a whole cycle, just reading this book will give you valuable insights.
Personally, I did work through the plan for one month now and I intend on keeping doing so. I liked the actionable advice, no matter your situation. Obviously it is easy to avoid meetings if you work from home, for example. But Miranda always keeps in mind that this is not the standard lifestyle and has ideas for everyone.
Weak points of “The optimized woman”
At some point, it does get a little repetitive. Understandable, as this book is about a cyclical subject. Still, at some point I felt as if I had read certain formulations way too many times by now.
At times the choice of language. Miranda Gray writes more like an artist than a scientist – which is perfectly fine, don’t get me wrong. There were a few occasions though when the formulations were too esoteric for me. Obviously this is definitely a matter of personal preference. And I only remark it, because it sometimes made it really hard for me to understand what she was trying to say. Then again, maybe this is just my lack of educations in metaphors.
Do I recommend “The Optimized Woman”?
Absolutely. Especially if you suffer from PMS, PMDD or any other hormonal imbalance. I know how that might make you doubt if nature knew what she was doing. But also if you are “just” female, if you live or work with females. Or if you just want to admire female nature. After reading this book and consciously experiencing my cycle and the various strengths it brings, I am in awe of what the female body and mind can do. So yes, Miranda, I agree. If you want to get ahead, get a cycle!