As a former salon and spa owner, Suzanne Mathis McQueen made a living by understanding women. But she has gone beyond physical pampering with a self-published book called "4 Seasons in 4 Weeks" ($24.95 on Amazon or $9.99 on Kindle).
It spells out how women can identify and track their progression through four monthly states of consciousness that McQueen says are roughly similar to our fall, winter, spring and summer.
According to McQueen, each of a woman's four monthly "seasons" comes with characteristics women easily can learn to identify. For instance:
Week 1: Fall. This is your darker period, a time for resting, when hormones have done their work, and you will do best to go with the flow and lie low, planting seeds for the coming cycle. It's about letting go, self-indulgence, inner peace and relaxation. It's menstrual time. Energies are low. Maybe you feel tired of being a woman.
Week 2: Winter. This is the time of beauty, of light on glistening, snowy mountains, says McQueen. Projects happen. Keywords are "building," "relationships," "sexuality," "love" and "confidence." Hormones go from zero to their highest point. It's time for cozy, heart-to-heart, fireside talks with a partner or lover or for attracting one. You believe in your brilliance. Your mind and heart are construction zones. You're nest-building.
Week 3: Spring. This is the highest expression of self, the first day of ovulation (even if menopausal, you still have these rhythms). This is the "big party." Keywords are "fearless," "experienced" and "enlightened." Put your love out for all to benefit, and expect projects to come to fruition. You uncover your authentic self and connect in primal ways with your partner, down and dirty, the highest sexuality. You are closest to "the God sense of creation." After this first day, the rest of the week is wise-woman mode. You are the leader. You look at the world as if from a throne.
Week 4: Summer. This is the time of deconstruction, when you lose progesterone and estrogen. It's the time before menstrual flow. Keywords are "hot," "irritable" and "vulnerable." You take down the nest and begin a recycling process. It's an emotional time of purging what no longer serves you. Thoughts break down and come out as tears. Now, you need people to take care of you, not the other way around. Often, you will be mad at your excessive caretaking of others in the second week. You're in the survival mode of protecting yourself.
"This book is written for adult women, though a man can read it and be comfortable. The woman can learn the cycles first and customize her life to them, then teach the man what's going on and when," McQueen says, so a partner can understand and flow with her natural energies.
"Work in tandem with the guy. Work the system together," says McQueen, adding that without such knowledge, most men don't know what to do in the days before menstrual flow. (She won't use the term "PMS" anymore, feeling it belittles the cycle as a "syndrome.")
For instance, during Week 4 — which she calls the "fire walk" — "a man needs to allow her to do her own thing while he stays at home and does tasks with the house, like clean the gutters and garage ... but don't take off. If you leave, it brings up more challenges. Sexuality will be sweet and sometimes furious. She will want to sleep together."
The book contains a primer for each week, noting a woman's energy level, immune response, mental states, body feeling, best foods, sex drive, outlook, "mind-mood persona," positive and negative mood states, exercise, beauty and clothing tips — and some must-do's and no-nos for the man.
In the premenstrual week, for example: "You may feel too wired to sleep; wear solids, not prints; set boundaries with no arguing; exercise a lot; eat simple foods."
"It's about mastery and understanding our rhythms," says McQueen.
"When men learn the 4s4w approach, it takes the mystery and the guesswork out when initiating sex or other forms of communication," says McQueen, a spa owner, hula dancer, ex-president of Women Entrepreneurs of Oregon and former mentor with Southern Oregon Women's Access to Credit, who was educated at Cal State Fullerton. Her website is www.4s4w.com.