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Zoë Higgins

The Proposition

I was eighteen when my mother entered a convent. She sold the house I’d grown up in, and almost all her possessions, and started the slog toward spiritual peace. She picked the time well – I was just about to move away for university – but for the last three weeks of that tumultuous summer I went west to live with my father.

His house was in a remote part of the country, tucked between two farms. There were parched paddocks to either side, and no trees apart from a few stray eucalypts. One of these had fallen in a storm a month or so before I arrived.

My father is a quiet man, and at this time he was often away on business. I spent my time reading, studying mathematics and going for walks.

One afternoon I was reading outside the house. It was a sunny day, and I had taken a chair out to the lawn so that I could enjoy the weather. I heard the sound of stock moving and saw that a mob of about two dozen sheep were being shifted into the paddock right next to the house. An unshaven man in his thirties was shepherding them.

The man noticed me looking at the sheep and raised his hand.

‘Good morning,’ I called. He shut the gate on the sheep and walked over to the fence.

‘Morning,’ he said. ‘What are you up to?’

‘Reading.’ I noticed that he was staring at my bare legs and felt self-conscious. To hide it, I asked him polite questions about the sheep. He asked what I was doing here.

‘Just spending some time with my dad. Mostly reading.’

‘Reading, eh? More like hanging out touching yourself.’

I thought I must have misheard him, so I nodded politely. He looked like he’d had a thought.

‘That big eucalyptus that fell over – does it need chopping up?’

I said that I supposed so. I thought Dad was going to do it sometime soon, but he was out for the day.

‘I’ll chop it up for you.’

‘If you like,’ I said. I couldn’t think of any reason to refuse.

The man went to get his chainsaw. I took my chair back inside the house.

About an hour later there was a knock at the side door. This door led directly into the kitchen, and was next to a large window. The man was standing there. His t-shirt had large damp patches under the arms and on the stomach, and his face was beaded with sweat.

‘Hot work chopping up that tree,’ he said.

‘I can bring a glass of water out for you,’ I said. He looked disappointed, but nodded. I went into the kitchen, poured a glass of water from the tap, and brought it outside.

‘Thank you for doing that,’ I said. ‘It’s nice to have friendly neighbours.’

He nodded again. I could feel the pressure in his waiting. I didn’t say anything. I was aware that he was bigger than me. He finished his water.

‘Is that all?’ he said.

‘Do you want another glass of water?’ I asked.

‘Nah,’ he said.

‘Well, thanks for doing that chainsawing.’ He didn’t move. ‘Nice to meet you.’ I went back inside and shut the door. I tried to read. I felt stupid for saying I was alone this afternoon.

There was another knock at the door. Not the side door this time – the front door. I went to answer it.

It was the man again. He cleared his throat.

‘Just checking,’ he said, ‘is there any chance of us, you know, having some fun?’

‘No,’ I said.

‘All right,’ he said. ‘Just checking.’

That evening my father asked about the eucalyptus.

‘The neighbour came and sawed it up,’ I said.

‘Oh. Why?’

‘No idea,’ I said.

Increasing personal productivity: A Month-by-Month Guide

The advent of menstrual cups has changed thousands of menstruating people’s relationships to their period. A hygienic, re-usable cup slashes the lifetime cost of a period and is more convenient than tampons or pads.

But there’s another benefit to menstrual cups. The measuring lines on a cup mean that, for the first time, a person who menstruates can accurately measure their daily flow.

Previously, people who were producing blood each day had no way of tracking their progress. You had no idea if you were producing more or less blood than your competitors.

Now that just isn’t efficient.

Now that menstrual cups are making it easy to track your personal productivity to the millilitre, we’ve developed this handy guide to making the most of your period. You’ll learn how to accurately track how much you’re making, set SMART goals, and take your period to the next level to become a menstruation master.

1. Set Intentions

The reason that some people succeed and others don’t has nothing to do with structural inequality, centuries of uneven accumulation, or societal bias. The reason is that some people try harder and are more intentional. If you want to break through and make something of yourself each month, start by setting intentions.

Find somewhere that you can sit quietly for a few minutes.

When you’re sitting quietly, breathe. Notice your breath, and allow yourself to focus on it. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Visualise your goals. Picture a menstrual cup slowly filling with dark red liquid. Allow yourself to want the goal. Focus on how it feels. Imagine how happy you will be to achieve your goal. Imagine how miserable you will feel to be unproductive. Imagine how hated you will be if you do not participate in self-improvement. Dwell on that hatred and let it settle in your bones.

Setting intentions doesn’t take long! It’s easy to do in the morning before your regular run or cross-fit session.

2. It’s All About The Numbers

Ramping up your personal productivity is all about the ‘3 Ds’: data, data, and data. By knowing exactly how much you’re producing each month, you’ll be able to set projections for the year, plan quarterly yields, and track how your business (your body, that is!) is returning on investment.

Make sure you know your KPIs (Key Period Indicators) so you can keep on track:

  • Net Daily Flow

  • Gross Period Margin

  • Funnel Drop-off Rate

  • Relative Menstrual Share

Numbers express everything important about you – so know them!

3. Track Your Goals

Make a point of achieving something every day. The purpose of life is to achieve.

How do you know if you’re achieving? The answer is Goals.

Once you’ve tracked your Net Daily Flow for 2-3 cycles using your menstrual cup, you’ll be able to set realistic goals for increasing flow rate, GPM, and overall productivity.

The key to success is being SMART with your goals:

  • Specific

  • Measurable

  • Achievable

  • Realistic

  • Time-bound

A SMART goal: ‘I want to increase my flow rate by one mL per day within three months.

A non-SMART goal: ‘I want to be happy.

A SMART goal is specific, measurable, and happens in a real time frame. That means that you can know whether you’ve achieved your goals or not – and what you need to do to start achieving them!

There you have it: three easy steps to improve your monthly productivity, track your progress, and achieve more on your journey to becoming your best self.

Zoë Higgins’ work has been published in Starling, Sport, Mayhem and Aotearotica. She lives in Pōneke.