Celebration Day for Girls (CDG) is a Chalice Foundation positive period preparation programme, founded in 2000, for girls 10-12 and their mums or female carer. Kath Callinan-Moore is a CDG facilitator and trainer and here talks about her evolving experience offering this programme.
My contemplation began as I charged myself with the task of re-vamping my Bio for the CDG Facilitators’ page on the CDG website. I hadn’t really looked at it for six years since first becoming licensed in 2015, and needless to say things had changed.
Since then I’d had the joy of running seventeen workshops for over 120 girls and their mothers. I’d also had the privilege of assisting with the training of many new facilitators in the past few years and this, more than anything, prompted me to reflect on the wonderful process of growth and deepening wisdom that has occurred alongside these rich experiences and the honing of one’s craft.
My earlier Bio had been much more focused on what I was bringing to the realm and perhaps reflected the professional vulnerability and critical self-awareness that I had when first stepping up to the plate. Am I good enough?… do I know enough?… am I able to hold this space well and deliver what girls and mothers need on all levels?… how can I best present myself as suitable for this work?…
With my initial Bio published I then took a big breath and facilitated my first CDG workshop, experiencing the almost indescribable joy and heady euphoria of the day, then I “got it” … I really got it! The alchemy of an intimate and beautifully presented group setting, being completely present for those I had warmly gathered together and the inspired blend of discussion and activities all cohered to create the magic. It’s the sharing and the connections and the story and the laughter that offer both generations* a unique and very special, very precious and very memorable experience.
I realised quickly as I ran both the mothers’ evenings and the workshop days that nobody was going to quiz me on the finer physiologic points of the menstrual cycle, nor will it matter how many or how few workshops I have facilitated. We all have to start somewhere! I truly didn’t need to ‘know’ everything, if indeed that’s even possible.
I can see now that as facilitators if we bring our hearts, our positive intentions for this work, our energy and creativity, along with the essential informational components and activities then it is enough, in fact much more than enough. For both girls and their mothers/carers, our facilitation enables them to feel heard … supported … confident … excited … and is far more valuable and ultimately more powerful than how much detailed information we give them or that they could even remember. Information can always be sought and gathered if the container is ready for it. Positive body literacy, diminished menstrual shame, elevated “awe and wonder” – these are what we seek to achieve. And in this I have always seen the shift by day’s end in the confident chatter, the heads held high, the mother/daughter hugs and the easy laughter.
The gift runs both ways. Almost immediately and then deepening over time, we as facilitators become aware of the nourishment and the enrichment on so many levels that sitting together in a circle, sharing and being present emotionally for each other gives back to us personally as well as to all present. And while those pearls may generally remain unspoken we know they are real and live and grow within us.
In our current world where evidence-based practice and proof of efficacy/outcome is the demanded norm in most realms (and even essential for funding for instance), it is easy to allow our focus to remain on the ‘hard data’ and the ‘measurable outcomes’. And certainly monitoring and evaluation should always be a part of what we do.
Equally though we need to deeply value the less easily quantifiable outcomes of the work – the heartfelt comments and joy-filled hugs from both mothers and daughters at the workshop conclusion and the myriad phone calls, thank you cards and emails expressing deep gratitude for the intangible gifts of the day along with the detailed information received. These elements are priceless and gratifying beyond measure; uplifting and affirming; soul food for the journey and hard work of CDG facilitators. And so, as we gain confidence and experience, our habitual inner critic can soften, step back a little and relax.
And so my refreshed Bio became less about who I was and more about what I felt privileged to present and be present for.
We are undertaking amazing and even life-changing work for the two generations of women* who join us, and indeed for ourselves. How rich and how extraordinarily fulfilling! And indeed, for all my planning and care on the day, I feel as if, once the preparation is complete, a mysterious process occurs where what is needed becomes available to us all.
“This year I had the most beautiful experience with my daughter. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the day and initially wasn’t too keen to attend, however once I attended the mother information session prior I was convinced this was an important step in our relationship as she enters womanhood. Kath’s gentle approach, her humour and ability to engage the girls was exceptional. My daughter and I had an opportunity to share each other’s strengths in a moving and emotional event in which I believe has made us closer than ever. Since the workshop my girl has entered Womanhood and embraces the changes in her body and understands the physical, psychological and emotional impact it has on her as a whole. I would encourage every mother and daughter to take the time to participate and share the day.” – Jo
Many sincere thanks for the great gift of the celebration day. We will remember and benefit from it forever. Thank you for running it so beautifully, with compassion, gentleness and humour, and for drawing us together to pause and reflect on this powerful and lovely rite of passage, and our relationship as daughter and mother. What a privilege it has been to take part with both my girls. Mia was so touched by your gift of your eye pack and has worn it to bed every night. Thanks again Kath, wishing you well as you continue with this precious work. – Jacqui
I am a mother of 4 now adult children and a childbirth educator and pelvic health physiotherapist these past 30 years. I have always sought to integrate the bio/psycho/spiritual aspects of the female experience in all that I do.
In my work, as in life generally, I recognise the important connection between a positive outlook and a positive outcome. Instilling in our pubescent girls a sense of normalcy and acceptance of their changing bodies helps create just such positivity.
How wonderful to awaken the innate curiosity girls have about that which takes place within and to affirm their special uniqueness alongside their shared experience as menstrually cycling young women. The safe and intimate space of a women’s circle is a joy to facilitate and the fun activities permit easy discussion and enhanced comfort around topics that can be tricky for some parents to explore. Being “the period lady” and modelling comfort with the whole topic is one important key to breaking the menstrual taboo and a role I feel privileged to hold.
This beautiful workshop helps open wide the doors for enhanced conversation and connection between mothers and daughters and between peers.
Building body literacy, providing opportunity to ask questions and to express feelings and enjoying the highly interactive activities all contribute to this memory-making event.
My certainty is that a girl’s positive experience of her menarche will pay forward to a more positive experience of future life transitions such as pregnancy, birthing and mothering and then beyond to menopause. Research increasingly supports this.
It is so important to truly honour the transition from girlhood to womanhood and experiencing A Celebration Day For Girls will help her shine with confident anticipation of this pivotal threshold.