I turned thirty-five this year, and it felt bigger and more potent than any other birthday. Eighteen has nothing on thirty-five!

It’s the seven-year cycle thing. I was ending a cycle and coming up on my next seven. You know what I’m talking about, right? Cycles of seven have been noted by cultures the world over. And you know how we’re told that the body’s cells replace themselves every seven years? Well, it’s not a load of crap, as it turned out for me.

With my fifth cycle coming to a close, I knew something was happening in my body- I was changing. Or rather, I had changed, and my body was now letting my mind know! Actually, it’s this two-way communication between mind and body that blossomed during my 28th-35th year cycle. At age 30, I gave birth to my daughter, and I realized just how wise my body is. It was my body teaching my mind, and not the other way around. I was capable of something that my mind couldn’t fathom!

My mind has always wanted to categorize and box everything in pretty little packages. By age 28, I thought I had everything well figured out. Then suddenly, with my daughter’s arrival, the packaging began to unravel. Nothing fit into a box anymore. I was, at once, the most capable woman on earth, and the most vulnerable. Childbirth and life with an infant demanded that I accept a hard truth: I cannot control what’s happening! When you’ve lived your life according to the masculine code of setting and achieving goals and controlling outcomes, this truth hits hard. It also brings the kind of gifts that don’t arrive in boxes. For me, it was the gift of trusting life more deeply, of letting go of how I think it ought to be. From that open-hearted space, my capabilities are no longer limited by my meager mind.

These shifts in perspective were huge and did not happen overnight. The past three years, life has invited me time and again to trust. Opportunities to choose differently, to live in alignment with my true, feminine nature have presented themselves over and over. And so as I approached my 35th birthday and the end of a cycle, I had the urge to acknowledge the portal to which I’d arrived and mark it with ritual and intention. In the US, women have the tendency to think of our wedding day as our “one day.” One day, when really there are so many ways to recognize and honor all of life’s rite of passages. The old me had died! And I felt more alive and more authentically me than I ever had! A celebration was in order.

So a group of seven of us gathered in my mom’s backyard for a fire and water ceremony, ending under the full moon on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Sitting in a circle, we each lit a candle as we spoke to releasing conditioned ways, and I set Carrie the Good Girl to rest with a palpable finality. Carrie the Good Girl has been dying a slow death the past few years, as I awoke to her ways of controlling and confining life, her need for an outward stamp of approval, through society or religion or her own preconceived ideas. Then we each took a turn pouring water into a large bowl symbolizing a birth of something new. With the Good Girl gone, I am free to step into the unknown, to step into a flow with life, just like nature- wild and organic.

We walked to the beach then with candles and water bowl and offered it all to the ocean- our candles were set afloat little paper boats and our bowl of water poured into the bigger flow. Right on cue, the moon emerged from the clouds. It was a magical night- it’s what happens when you allow the invisible to work with the visible.

I’m 35. It’s huge. I’ve hit the marker for a woman’s fertility decline. My eggs aren’t getting any better…apparently. But I’ve never felt more fertile in my whole life! Though I’m not birthing babies, I am birthing an authentic and creative expression of self.