40 - Tuning in to Cycles, Seasons and Rhythms of Life

Have you ever noticed how nature is replete with little reminders of patterns? Welcome to Episode 40 of Take the Upgrade with Leanne Peterson. Thanks for joining us!

Leanne is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Houston and she works with clients all over the country. She is committed to helping you find peace in the midst of difficult life situations and transitions. Using powerful insights into health and energy alignment, Leanne helps you create the beautiful life you want!

There are seasons of our life that come and go. There are cycles that repeat themselves daily, monthly and annually. Realizing this is powerful because it puts your “present” in perspective. Leanne has so many great insights to share to help us become truly in tune with these natural rhythms.

Have a question for Leanne? Email her at connect@leannepeterson.com

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We’ll be back next week with another dose of soulful guidance! Below is an edited transcript of the show!

Leanne Peterson: Hello everyone, and welcome to the show today! Today we are talking about natural rhythms and syncing our life up with the rhythms of life. Instead of living like I think most of us are living, which is always sunny and 80 in our lives the way we’re flying around and doing things. So I say that because nature has rhythms, we have seasons, we have times for things. If you look at the show Life Below Zero, where people are living in Alaska, you can see how their lives are so synced up to the seasons. There are seasons they hunt, and seasons they can’t really go out as much, and seasons they use the dog sleds, and seasons they use their boats, and there’s just such a rhythm to life when you’re living like that.

But what’s happening I think for a lot of us is because our lives are climate controlled, and things don’t really stop, and we don’t really sync up to anything, we’re kind of always just going, going, going. We’re not really honoring the cycle and the rhythms of our lives. So today I wanted to talk about this idea.

The other thing I want to talk about is when we talk about syncing up, one thing I really love paying attention to, I’m by no means an expert but I like to listen to experts on this, is moon cycles. Astrology, I know —some people love it, some people think it’s not true, but the thing about astrology that’s really interesting is when we look at the full moons, the new moons, the energy they’re bringing in, to me that makes a lot of sense because the ocean tide is controlled by the moon. That’s how the tide comes in and out. We are mainly made of water, so it would stand to reason that we’re also influenced by the energy around us, the moon, the cycles of the moon, all of these things.

Often, because we’re not paying attention and we’re not tuning in, we’re missing our own natural ebbs and flows, and the times we should be pushing really hard, and the times we should be resting. I started this saying that we kind of act like it’s always sunny and 80, and I remember when I moved to Houston from Michigan, this was in grad school, and it is sunny here, and it was the most gorgeous year I lived here. It was nice all year around, so beautiful. I remember one day I had to just stop and lay in bed and watch TV on my couch for a whole day, because it was so nice that I was just going, going, going, and I realized in Michigan, where I’m from, there were a lot of rainy days or cold days that kind of forced you to slow down. In Texas, there weren’t those days that were forcing me to slow down, so I was burning myself out going.

But I think even people who live in colder climates, the expectations don’t stop. The schedules we’ve scheduled ourselves in for don’t stop. So there’s this unrelenting busyness, and there’s not really time to pause, check in, and regroup, or to follow the normal cycle of slower, faster, the seasonal cycle of really productive in one month but less productive in another, or another season. We’re just always going full throttle. So Natalie, I’d love to see your experience of disconnection from this, because I’m guessing you’re like most of us, and you’re not super synced up to all of these cycles.

Natalie Pyles: Wow, that is so interesting. Like you mentioned, so there’s seasons of the year. There’s seasons where we’re going to be outside a lot, doing a lot of maybe more physical activities. Then seasons of the year where we’re just naturally going to be more restful or sleep more. But then there’s also seasons within the month, and seasons within, even, I think, a day, right? Where certain times of the day where we just feel a certain way.

It really doesn’t work for me to say, “I’m going to exercise every single day this month,” because some days I just don’t feel like exercising, and sure, you can push yourself, and set goals, and do it every single day for the rest of your life. Or you could get really good at knowing, “Today’s a day where I want to exercise,” or, “Today’s a day where I just don’t feel it.” So I think for me, it’s been so interesting to recognize, oh my gosh, certain times of the day where I feel different, or like you said, there’s so many different ways to apply it.

I love that, too, because you hear a lot of people talk about goal setting, and all of this stuff, like, “You’ve gotta make these goals, you’ve gotta set your year goal, your five year goal, your ten year goal. If you don’t set your goal, you’re never gonna make it.” But I think we’re not doing a great job of tuning in to, “What am I wanting? What am I needing today? What is my body craving today? What kind of movement is my body craving?” Because sometimes it might be a heavy workout, or sometimes it might be gentle stretching, or sometimes it might be a bath. So I’d love for us, instead of setting aside time, like, “I have to workout an hour every day at this time,” what if we set the intention to, “I’m going to honor my body an hour a day, and I’m going to tune in each day to see what that looks like that day, because it’s going to be different day by day?”

Oh, exactly. I love that. Wording it that way is so much more nurturing. And if you can handle that, like if you can handle that stewardship, and making the right choice, not just decide that every single day this month, you really just needed to eat chocolate, then you can trust yourself.

I love that reminder. We need to be a good steward with this. But it’s through learning, you know, and I think really what this is about in today’s world is learning how to listen. How do we listen to ourselves in a way that’s actually honoring ourselves? Instead of how do we just keep telling ourselves what we need to do.

Instead ask yourself, “What do I feel like doing?” Right?

Right, or not even feel like doing, “What do I need to do?”

“To honor myself. To be a good steward of this body and this life.” So we talked about, you know, when I was sick and I hate missing work, but it was like, in that moment, to honor myself—it would have been a betrayal to myself to push myself at that point. That was not where my body was at. That was not what I was needing. So to force myself to do that would have been betraying myself. Because it wasn’t listening, it wasn’t paying attention, and it wasn’t doing what I needed.

But in our world today, I think that is more rewarded than stopping. It’s more rewarded to say, “Yeah, I never take sick days. I just work sick.” And everyone’s like, “Oh my gosh, you’re so awesome, you’re so driven.” Like, “Eeeh, who are we and what are we kind of celebrating?”


And I think we, you know, one thing I see all the time is we’re not celebrating people who are taking good care of their entire selves. We’re celebrating people who are successful in making a lot of money.

Or who live on the extremes, because that seems so exciting to us.

Yes. We either like the guy in, you know, again, loving the people in Alaska who are off the grid, or loving the people who are gazillionaires, pushing themselves to the limit. An image I get for myself that I’ve been working on, you know, my intention for the year is slowing down. One thing I think of when I think of that is, you know, a field. If you have this field, and you’re always planting the same crop on this field, and you’re always harvesting this crop, and it’s in constant plant/harvest mode, you’re going to drain the soil of its nutrients. You know, there’s the whole thing with farming that we need to be rotating crops, it’s my farm girl self coming out. My Michigan roots.

We have to rotate crops to keep the soil actually being able to grow good crops, and to keep everything diversified. So often in our life, we’re planting the same crop, harvesting the same crop over and over and over again, and what we’re doing is we’re stripping ourselves of the nutrients we need, and of the resources we need, and eventually we’re going to leave ourselves completely depleted.

Right, because we’re trying to be the same person every single day.


And we’re not. Like you said, because—it was hilarious when you talked about climate control, but yeah, we have air conditioners, and we can basically treat every single day of the year like the exact same because we can eat the same food all year long. We’re not restricted to what’s literally growing in season like we used to be. So we’re just the same every day. That’s not natural.

So what if we were to track the days where we feel super creative, or super, for lack of a better word, lazy, or sensitive, or strong, and then do you think we would notice patterns?

We might notice patterns. It might be, “Oh, every day in the beginning of the month, I’m more energized,” but also it’s kind of sitting with the energy of, “Where am I at now?” To me, it’s more, you can track it, but I think there’s a lot more value in noticing it. Because tracking is like, we’re trying to quantify it and figure it out, when really this is more this process of, “Can I just allow it? Can I allow myself to fall into a rhythm that actually serves me?”

And that actually acknowledges all of this. I mean, you said it perfectly. We’re eating the same foods year round, we’re doing the same things year round. We’re holding the same expectations for ourselves year round. Most of us are giving us a pass/fail, like we either do it or we don’t, you’re either good or you’re not, you’re either motivated or you’re lazy. But maybe there’s times, and like I say, too, is it good for any of us to lay around? No. If you look at where we came from, our ancestors, they were always moving. So I think in our life in general, we all need more movement. That is how we’re designed to be.

But my question is how do you honor that and meet yourself with the right movement for the right time? Like you were saying, if you’re feeling strong, how can you take advantage of those moments where you’re feeling strong and give your body that strength, and the opportunity to build strength? And those times when you’re feeling sensitive and maybe down, can you stretch and just honor yourself with slow movement and be really gentle with yourself? When you’re feeling energized, can you go on a brisk walk? When you’re feeling kind of down, can you go on a slow walk?

Can we just keep moving but move in a different way? I think that’s what we haven’t mastered. We’re either all or nothing, the extremes. We’re either go-go-go, or then we come home and we sit in front of the TV and we’re done.

How can we start moving with intention, and moving our bodies and our selves with intention matching where we’re at?

eah, that’s really cool. So I have noticed that I am a totally different person in different times of the day. It’s been really interesting for me to be like, “Oh my gosh, I’m just, this is just how I am in the afternoons, or this is just how I am in the evenings.” And it’s been kind of sad, because in the afternoons, I’m really tired, and that’s the most important time for a mom to not be tired.


So what am I going to do? So I was talking to my husband about it, and he was like, “Take a nap right after lunch, so that when the kids get home, you’re feeling really good,” and I’m like, “Can I do that? Should I do that?” He was like, “Absolutely.” So there are ways we can work around it and try to, I guess, work with ourselves where we are.

I love that. And it’s the perfect example. But isn’t it interesting how you needed permission to take a nap?

I know!

I’m just saying, not for you, but for all of us. We’re all waiting for permission. “Is this okay? Is it okay to take care of myself?”

Yep. It’s okay.

And like you said, is it okay to notice my body, and then honor my body. Yep. That’s okay, too.

It’s always this kind of process of tweaking and adjusting, and when we can allow ourselves, like you might try to take a nap, and you might find like, “Ooh, right after lunch leaves me a little groggy, but if I go for a little walk and then lay down, I feel really good when I wake up,” or whatever it is. Paying attention to that, and noticing that, and seeing what helps, and maybe some days, it’s a longer nap, and some days it’s shorter. Can that be okay?

That’s true. Again, I’m trying to put it in a box of an every single day routine.

Right? Like, that still, and again, it’s just like we’re getting out of one loop only to find yourself back in the same loop. “Uh, I’m just in a different loop.”

You know, I just think, we really, it’s like the weather, we have to check in every day with ourselves, and say, “Okay, what do I need now? What do I need today? What would feel really,” again, the keyword, “what would feel really nurturing today?”

Yeah, and it seems so indulgent in a good way. Like that you’d love yourself that much.

And that you’d take that good of care of yourself. Because I feel like that’s what we’d all do for your mother, that’s what we all do with our kids. We’re checking in. “What do you need? What do you need today?” Oh, they come home from school sad. “Oh, you seem sad. Do you need a snack? Do you need cuddles? What do you need?”

You know, with our friends, we look to them, “What do you need?” Like if they’re seeming down, or if they’re seeming happy, like, “Ooh, what do you want to do?” We’re always checking in with other people, so imagine how good it’d feel to check in with ourselves with that same attention, and desire to help.

That does seem really nice. That’s true self-care, right?

Yes. So I think that’s the danger. When we start scheduling our self-care, again, people have been talking about this, now we’re obsessed with scheduling self-care, scheduling those yoga classes, but every day you’ve gotta go to yoga. Then massages, every day you’ve gotta get a massage. And that’s all okay, but really pay attention to what is truly nurturing and feels good to you, and what feels like another box you’re trying to check off so that you can say that you’re taking care of yourself? And they’re different.

What about with food, where you feel like you really want, or need, certain kinds of food, but not because you are craving the iron? But because you just want to eat cheese or something? How do you work around that? Talk to me about working food into this.

I think when your intention is nurturing, it’s a totally different way of looking at it, because oftentimes with food, we’re filling a void with food, or we’re using that to nurture us. Right now, in our world, we have one way of nurturing ourselves, and that’s eating. When you start doing these other things, I think it just introduces that balance, so you can start, you’re going to start making different choices with food in general, because you’re feeling more nurtured and more cared for. And you’re not going to food to do that for you.

Again, if you’re craving something rich, get something rich, but maybe get a coconut milk something treat that has some fat in it versus fried french fries. You can, again, it’s kind of like I’m saying, there’s things we want to do that aren’t nurturing us, and that’s why this word nurturing is so important. Because me eating a crappy meal doesn’t nurture me. It just pacifies me.

It almost hurts you.


Okay, so this is making me think a lot. I’m really fascinated by this topic, and it’s neat to hear all of your ideas about these natural rhythms and syncing up with them.

I just love this idea of paying attention, paying better attention. And again, we talk about this all the time, it’s like meeting the real need. Sometimes the need is, “Oh my gosh, today I’m feeling really lonely. I need to go hang out with my friends.” Those are needs, too. So that’s a way of nurturing ourselves, if you’re feeling lonely, or you’re feeling—you know, the other thing is that I’m seeing, lonely, but I think too that if you’re single, one thing that often gets missed that we’re not even aware of is physical touch, and how important that is for our whole system to be touched. So that would be a way you could nurture yourself as well. If I’m not getting that touch from a partner, how so I meet that need for myself? Can I schedule regular massages? Can I hug the friends I see? Can I just bring this part into my life, too? Again, so often, we let things in our lives get neglected.

That’s really cool. And there are other ways we can take care of ourselves, and meet those needs. That is really interesting. So if it’s winter, and you feel like you’re one of those people who really suffers from depression in the winter, you could figure out, “What am I really missing?” and then bring that into your life more. Like if it’s sunshine, or if it’s socializing, or if it’s nature, find a way to get that.

Exactly. And you’re going to have to put more energy and intention into it, like you said, in the winter, than you would in the summer. Which is why it’s important to assess it in each season. Like some seasons just lend themselves more to the things you need.

I’m such a summer girl. Like I come alive in the summer, so the summer I don’t have to be as careful because I’m being nurtured by just the summer. And the sunshine, and the warmth. But the rest of the year, I don’t have that built-in nurturing so I have to check in with myself and see what would feel really good.

And it’s not always going to be really easy. Like one thing for me that I really love is being in water, so a hot tub, or a bathtub, or even like a foot bath, I love it. It’s so easy for me. I draw a bath for my son every night with little bubbles, and I don’t do that for myself. It’s just so easy to not do the thing that I need. So that’s like what you said, we have to be a good steward of our bodies and of ourselves, and we need to really make an effort. Because I think if people just say, “Oh, I’m taking care of myself by not doing anything,” that’s actually not taking care of yourself. That’s avoiding taking care of yourself. So it’s that real, kind of discernment of, “Am I doing this because it’s serving me?” Or like you said with food, or with just watching TV a lot, “Am I doing this because I just don’t want to take care of myself for real, so I’m going to put a band-aid on it?”

Nature offers us so many great examples. Water is perfect, the seasons, I mean, just look at trees. Trees go through natural cycles of blooming, and I don’t know, I’m not a science person, but I feel like losing their leaves and hibernating, something like that, right?

Exactly. They’re not always producing fruit.

Yeah, producing fruit.

That’s not how fruit trees work.

That’s the big one.

Yeah, the whole apple tree thing. It doesn’t always produce apples.

And again, right now, we’re trying to live in this perpetual harvest of ourselves, so we’re always expected to give 100% and produce, produce, produce, and again, there’s no, even fish, right? There’s times, like salmon, they have these times when they swim upstream but that’s not all the time. So if you’re living your life stuck in one season, and that’s a good point, if you’re living in life stuck in one season, where if you’re always trying to produce and harvest and all of that, there’s no balance there. But if you’re always in a perpetual winter, where you’re not wanting to move, and you’re not wanting to move forward, there’s no balance there. So there’s finding the balance for yourself, and then finding out within a day, or a week, or a month, how can you allow yourself to go through different phases, and not hold the same expectation of yourself all year long?

That’s so great. So do you think this is more important for women than it is for men?

That’s a good question. I think that men, you know, when we look at ancestry, men were often the hunters, so they work really hard and then they rest. So men need to find that rhythm.


How do you work, and it’s kind of more of a stop-go thing for men, I think. For women, we’re kind of, I feel like our ancestors were always doing things, but each season might require something different, and there’s a lot more, if we look at a long time ago, there was a lot more community support around what we were doing. So I think for women, we need to be careful about trying to do all this in isolation. For women, it was always meant to be a group effort, and it’s turned into this real solo activity, and I think that’s hurting us the most. So as you’re looking at these seasons of your life, and everything, how do you get support from other women? How do you be around other women more?

Okay, so community’s part of it, too. Oh my gosh, well thanks, Leanne.

Yes. Thank you, and good luck, and I invite all of you who are listening to think about how is it working, and journal a little bit about, “Am I honoring different seasons in my life, or am I living in one perpetual season?” Again, notice what that is. What mode are you always in? Is it working for you still, or are there ways you could add in something different? Just like you said, Natalie, it’s not, “That’s it! Quit your life, you’re done!” It’s like one nap in the day might change your entire day. So there can be these little things we can add in that make us feel a lot better!