cancel1Like most people, I have my pet peeves.

For instance, I hate hate hate whenever anyone calls me “Gabi”. It’s Gabrielle, Gabs, Gab, G, even “Hey, you!”, but never, ever Gabi. I may not say it to someone’s face, but whenever I’m called Gabi, I instantly wish that a piano comes out of nowhere and falls on the person’s head who said it. That’s how much I hate that nickname.

I also get red-faced livid whenever anyone stops me to talk about something meaningless and stupid when I’m in the middle of working (because it almost always means I’m on a pressing deadline) or walking my dog (because it means I’m trying to spend quality time with my beloved pooch and grab a little fresh air in between all my many pressing deadlines).

So, you could imagine my irritation this weekend when I was trying to squeeze in a walk with my dog in the middle of catching up with work that’s way past due when a neighbor stops me and says, “Hey, Gaaaabiiii! Where can I find ripe strawberries around here? Not ones at the supermarket–ones sold by, you know, a farmer?” Then, without even waiting for an answer, she goes on and on and on and ON about nothing in particular all while I’m trying politely to extricate myself and escape with my not-so-patiently-waiting barking, pulling, yanking, wants-to-go-pee-and-sniff dog.

Okay, so now you know my pet peeves. You should also know this annoying neighbor encounter happened on a premenstrual day. After a night of truly horrible sleep–a factor proven to exacerbate premenstrual irritation. Which means the anger and frustration boiling inside me reached levels a Greek god might find terrifying.

At some point, I finally got out of that stultifying conversation and on with my walk. However, by the time I returned home, I was still very much in irritation mode.

That’s when I decided to change my to-do list for my day.

I acknowledged that my premenstrual plunging estrogen was going to make my irritation linger because when this hormone dips, it drags down levels of feel-good brain chemicals that help you bounce back quickly from problems and annoyances.

And because I know myself fairly well, I knew that if I did activities that had the potential to increase this irritation, my anger would reach smashing-expensive-stuff levels. I know, I know, as the “hormone lady” I should be able to rein my hormonal reactions. But, I’m just human–and have a pile of shattered glassware, electronics and dishes–to prove it.

So, looking at my to-do list, I first crossed off blowing leaves from the front lawn and garden, which requires using a heavy, awkward, smelly, dirty, loud leaf-blower/mulcher machine that needs five extension cords leading from the porch outlet to work. That certainly had the potential to piss me off.

I crossed off practicing driving my stick shift on the highway because it’s spring break down here in Florida, which means the throngs of visiting drivers who are drunk / stoned / texting / making last-minute maneuvers across three lanes of traffic because they didn’t realize their exit was coming up clearly had the potential to inspire a stream of colorful invectives that shouldn’t be screamed from a convertible with the top down.

And I crossed off filming the three Hormonology videos I’d planned to shoot because I knew I’d have far less patience with my premenstrual verbal flubs–of which I was sure there would be aplenty. And the ensuing self-flagellation would just make those flubs even more frequent, resulting in even more premenstrual ire.

Then, I rescheduled all those activities for Week 1 of my cycle. Because I know that’s when rising estrogen will have me laughing at all the stuff that got me so ticked off in my premenstrual Week 4 thanks to this hormone’s ability to make me upbeat, energetic and resilient in the face of all that the world–and chatty neighbors who insist on calling me “Gabi”–can throw at me.

I share all this with you because I want you to know that it’s okay if you don’t feel like doing a certain task on a premenstrual day–or another certain challenging day in your cycle–because you feel your hormones could possibly be a hindrance. If you can, try to reschedule the task for a better cycle day. 

Doing so is not a sign of weakness. It’s not anti-feminist or silly or weird. It’s just good planning.

After all, you would probably try to reschedule a movie date with a friend if you got a migraine. Or, you’d put off an arduous task that requires tons of energy, like repainting a room or landscaping the yard, if you got seriously lousy sleep the night before, right?

In the same way, you’re simply accounting for a physical change (in this case, your hormones and brain chemicals) and working around it. It’s just practical.

I hope that my sharing my premenstrual experience helps you feel better about replanning your to-do list around your cycle when you need to. As my Week 1 just started (hallelujah!), I’ve got tons of stuff to do–and I can’t wait get started!

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[Photo: Tom Magliery]