About the episode
"This is going beyond just knowing our cycles and loving our bodies, but loving who we are as persons and recognizing the person in front of us." When Bridget Busacker got engaged, she and her now-husband started looking for a natural family planning method to start them off. But the research process showed that this wasn't as simple as they thought. Wanting to take action in the fertility awareness space, she co-founded Managing Your Fertility, a one-stop shop for women to learn more about and compare different NFP methods. Her hope is to build out the space and make an impact in women's health, not only for herself, but for her daughters and future generations.
In this episode, Bridget and I talk about how she became interested in charting and fertility awareness, how she started Managing Your Fertility, and how becoming a mother empowered her to jump head first into this work full-time.
Listen to the episode
Meet Bridget Busacker
Bridget Busacker is founder of Managing Your Fertility, an online, one-stop shop of fertility awareness resources for women and couples. She has her master’s degree in Health Communication from the University of Minnesota, is a Certified Professional Project Manager (CPPM) through the University of St. Thomas, and graduate of the Archbishop Flynn Catechetical Institute of The Seminaries of St. Paul. Bridget is on a mission to fuse the science of Fertility Awareness Based Methods (FABMs) and Theology of the Body (TOB) into the everyday practice of NFP. She is passionate about women’s health and sex education that promotes the dignity of the human person by integrating a holistic approach to self-knowledge of the body. Bridget's favorite work of all is being wife to David and mama to one little girl and another on the way!
00:10 RACHEL WONG: This is The Feminine Genius Podcast, a podcast that celebrates all women of God and their unique genius. I'm your host, Rachel Wong.
00:30 RACHEL: When Bridget Busacker got engaged, she and her now-husband started looking for a natural family planning method to start them off. But the research process showed that this wasn't as simple as they thought. Wanting to take action in the fertility awareness space, she co-founded Managing Your Fertility, a one-stop shop for women to learn more about and compare different NFP methods. Her hope is to build out the space and make an impact in women's health, not only for herself, but for her daughters and future generations.
In this episode, Bridget and I talk about how she became interested in charting and fertility awareness, how she started Managing Your Fertility, and how becoming a mother empowered her to jump head first into this work full-time.
01:28 RACHEL: Hi Bridget!
01:29 BRIDGET BUSACKER: Hi, Rachel. Good to be with you.
01:31 RACHEL: Good to be with you as well! Thanks for joining me on The Feminine Genius Podcast. I'm so excited to chat with you. I know that we chatted, not too long ago, from the time that we're recording this, so it's just great to be with you today. Maybe for those listeners who are tuning in who may not know you, I was wondering for you to introduce yourself and share a little bit about what you do right now.
01:51 BRIDGET: Absolutely. My name is Bridget Busacker. I'm founder of Managing Your Fertility. It's an online one-stop shop with fertility awareness resources for women and couples. So I actually left my other part-time job to focus solely on Managing Your Fertility, and it's been a real joy just in walking with women and helping them understand how their bodies work, encouraging them to chart, and just being able to expand the conversations around fertility awareness and natural family planning. And then my favourite and most important job is wife to David and mama to Felicity, and we actually have another little girl on the way, which we're really excited about! So that's just been a joy to be in a space of work from home and stay-at-home mom. It's a, it's a juggle, there are days that are challenging but it's a serious gift to be able to do both!
02:35 RACHEL: Absolutely, and I can imagine that, you know, the work that you do right now with charting and NFP and Manage Your Fertility, which... Managing Your Fertility, excuse me! I know that probably those really go hand in hand, just because it takes a lot to get to that place where you can start your family, it's a journey that starts probably right at the moment that you get engaged, and maybe even before then, so I can't wait to dive into that with you, and I am so excited to hear about your growing family! That's so beautiful!
03:05 BRIDGET: Thank you, thank you!
03:07 RACHEL: Awesome, okay. So, Bridget, I'd love to hear your personal faith journey, and thinking about how you've come to know Christ in the way that you do now, just because I'm noting that, you know, you do this business, and obviously you're a wife, you're a mother, but you also have this Catholic side to you, of course. So yeah, anything that you'd like to share about that. 03:30 BRIDGET: I love this question because it really helps me to reflect and see, okay, where has God been living in my life, and He's moved quite a bit. I think, if I had to summarize the journey, and it's not done! [laughs] But it's a journey to wholeness. I think that's something that I've desired for a long time.
I was raised Catholic, cradle Catholic, oldest of four kids. My parents were very involved in our church, we actually lived across the street from our church growing up. And one of the highlights when we had moved when I was nine was that I could see the priests' dining room and they waved to me when we first moved in and they were eating dinner and I couldn't believe it! And so I think they were, my parents are so good about just involving us in community life, church life. But high school was a really hard time for me, and just that transition of really trying to figure out if my faith is my own or not. And I know that story is something that many have struggled with. I had two really great friends who were, and are, very strong Baptist-Protestants, and their faith was really what, I think, helped me hold on to mine because I was really struggling with, is this my own? Is this my family's? What does it really mean to give my life to God or not? And I think I just had a lot of fear around it at that time, and I really didn't know if it would mean I would lose friends, if I would be popular or not, I think that was always kind of on my heart, is I want to be popular. And I didn't really vocalize that until, I think you know, in the past couple of years realizing, wow, I had this sense of wanting to belong, so deeply. And I really wanted it to fit in with my face and have friends when we were all striving towards the same goal of sanctity, of sainthood, and challenging each other.
So in college, I found out that my housing had fallen through, my high school boyfriend have broken up with me. Some of my friends we just create a distance just in choices they were making, they weren't choices that I wanted to make. And I remember just this intense feeling of loneliness, but also a sense of rebuilding. That this was an opportunity that I could give it one more shot, or I could walk away. And I had a really intense experience and confession and I went and I was like, "I feel like a mess. And I really need help in this space, Lord, and so I'm going to give you one last shot and I need you to do something, otherwise like this is it. I'm not going to do this anymore." And thank God I didn't realize the power of that prayer because it was such a bold prayer and I'm so grateful that, for whatever reason, that was the prayer that just like brought me to my knees, because He moved, and it was really a space where I think I was finally in a position of receptivity.
And so, I ended up starting a young adults group at my church, because I was living at home, I still lived across the street from my church. I was a 10 minute ride from campus, I was actually really close. I ended up building really good relationships with my siblings and joined St Paul's Outreach, which is a ministry in college, and ended up living with women my senior year. And it was such a gift all across the board, I mean it was just like friendships are growing, I was in small groups. It was still hard, I mean there were moments of like, "What the heck am I doing, and where is this going?" and just the challenges of what does it look like to really choose God. But I think in that space, I started dating my now husband. We were friends in high school and we started dating in college. He was Protestant, and so I was like, "Okay, Lord, I just said I was going to give you a shot at the Catholic Church again. I don't know if this really makes sense!" So we broke up, and for whatever reason I really felt like the Lord saying, you know, "It's okay to like date, it's okay to be together." And so we decided we were going to give it a shot and I was like, this doesn't make any sense, because I thought I was just going to be doing like Catholic only, what's going on? [laughs]
And in that process, I learned so much from David. I learned so much in his journey of questions and and discovery and he was on a journey of really trying to find truth, of really trying to find religion and God in a way that it harmonize in his life. And in that space, he started going to adoration, he started going to Mass, I didn't really know it, and that I think now I look back, I'm like, "That's so weird we're dating. How did I not know?" But it was a blessing, because it really became his own, and it challenged me to think, "Wow, what am I doing? Like, am I growing? What am I choosing? And he ended up joining the Catholic Church, we got engaged a couple months later, and in that process we joined a lay movement in the Twin Cities, we're from Minnesota, and joined a phenomenal Parish and really just jumped both feet in and said, "Okay, we got to keep running because otherwise I think we could really become complacent." We knew this is important to us, and so it's really just been amazing to see God work when I've had to go through hard places where I just didn't know the answer, you know? It's like I was looking at the map, but I didn't have all the answers and it's like, "I can try to drive, or I can try to give this to God."
And so I think in the space of marriage and just how much it's really challenged me to grow in my faith and grow in my feminine genius and growing in what it looks like to really be a woman, in receptivity and generosity. So it's just been incredible and now being a mom, I mean, it's just been like this continual unearthing and seeing where God is leading and calling me out and calling me out of my selfishness, and calling me out of my fears of wanting to control. And if I'm not controlling, will He be there? And it takes me to just look back at my story and be like, He's been there! He's been there the entire time like, can I take that gratitude forward and say, "Thank you, God!" because I know You'll be there today and I know You're gonna be there tomorrow. So it's just, I love this question, because it really helps me get centered again when I'm starting to feel scattered and it's like, He's here. He's here.
09:01 RACHEL: Oh, Bridget that's so beautiful, and the line that you led off with, like this journey to wholeness and to bookend that with what you ended off with this, you know, continual unearthing. But just being able to look back and see those little moments like—I was listening to Father Mike Schmitz this morning actually, and he was just talking about little fingerprints that God leaves on our lives. I was like, "That is such a beautiful image!" And so, you know, hearing you share your story of how He has been with you all throughout. And, you know, you become more and more yourself and it's not even like there's a max limit to who you become. But as you journey with Him, you as a individual but also with your husband and your family, it continues to overflow. And I find that to be so powerful, with how God moves in our lives, and it just goes to show that He is like infinite. And we might think it's like, "Wow like life can't get any better than this!" And God's like, "Uh, uh, uh! I've got so much more for you." So, I'm just so grateful that you shared all that and just what a beautiful story, so thank you.
10:07 BRIDGET: Oh thank you, it's a gift. I love what you said just the fingerprints of God all over our lives. I think it's just so true, when we take that breath, and we just look around, it's like He is everywhere, you know? It's... I think it's for me, it's working on like it's not luck, it's not coincidence, it's an even if I find a parking space that's close and it's like, Lord, that's what I really wanted!
10:25 RACHEL: Yes!
10:25 BRIDGET: And I know it's a stupid and simple sounding, but it's like He cares about the parking space, and He'll find the parking space for me, like, why would I think He's gonna find me the time that I need for my business or the help that I need or, you know, the right therapist or the better doctor, you know? Just like even bigger, like the house that we'd love to have or in the big family we desire. It's like He's in at all it just, I have to be open to the creative ways He responds to the dreams.
10:52 RACHEL: Absolutely. Even that parking space example, absolutely! I love that so, so much because He cares even in the most like minute details. So, of course, like if He will care about that, why wouldn't He care about our biggest dreams and desires?
So, speaking of which, speaking of biggest desires, biggest dreams. As I was preparing for this interview I was reading through your website, reading through your bio. And I know that just before we hit record I was sharing with you how I saw that you've got a wide breadth of education behind you and one of the things that I was very curious to hear more about was that you mentioned in your bio that you became an advocate of charting in college. Now, I'm going to be honest, I am horrible when it comes to keeping track of literally anything. But for something as important as you know our bodies, our cycles, I feel like that should be the number one thing that I should be focusing on and yet, I can't even keep up with that. So I was curious to hear more about, you know, your own relationship to charting and how you got into that, and what, I guess, was the pivot or the turning point for you to become not just interested but an advocate for it.
12:03 BRIDGET: That's a great question. So my mom is a huge advocate of charting, and I think, you know, that word sometimes thrown around a lot but I seriously mean 'advocate' because she was so outspoken in a way that we were always having conversations. And so, when my period came and I had questions, she was always open to having those conversations and I think it really stemmed from her own comfort with her own body and using natural family planning in her own life. She used the Creighton model, and so my mom was really good about creating space for the conversations that my body wasn't icky, that my fertility wasn't gross and that, if I have questions about cervical mucus or wondering if something was normal, she was always willing to chat about it and answer those questions. And I think that really set me up, in a sense, for success in charting but also it was a good wiring for, I think, my brain and thinking, okay this is a good thing. My body is good and it's good to learn, it's good to love my body and respect my body, and this is a way I can respect my body.
So when I started college, FemTech was really booming. Kindara and Clue were probably the two biggest apps that were being talked about, and my mom thought it was like so cool, and so did I. So we were both nerding out, like, "This is so great, like it's on your phone!" And she's like, "Oh my gosh, you don't have to use paper charts! That's so neat, you should try it" So just, I think, to have that person in my life saying, "This is so cool! You should try it like, that's awesome! You get to know how your body's working!"
And I had a few other friends, one was graphic design, one was going for nursing, another was going for theater and performance. So it was like, it wasn't that we were all in like the healthcare world or interest but really just, I encouraged my friends to join me because I didn't want to do it alone! And we started talking about it, and I think through those conversations it really created a sense of vulnerability for us and a space that we could talk about what was going on with our bodies that went beyond our periods. It was like, "Wow I get really emotional before my period." And, "Actually, I realized like I'm really having a hard time in this area of my life" or "I'm really struggling because I'm dating these people but I don't really like," you know? It just started to open up these doors for really vulnerable, beautiful conversations together and I think in that I was like, this is so powerful. This is like going beyond just knowing our cycles and loving our bodies, but like loving who we are as a persons and recognizing the person in front of us and saying, "Wow, like, all of my emotions and my hormones are a part of my cycle, and my cycle's a part of the rest of me, and this isn't something so separate." And I think it was really a lightbulb moment for me.
I've always been passionate about the pro-life movement, but I really didn't necessarily see myself outside the clinics or working as an advocate or nurse or super hands-on, I guess you could say. I was much more interested in marketing, public relations, so I thought I was going to do a degree in more like arts management. Like I thought, "Okay I'm doing public relations, minor in public health, maybe I'll do like arts management." I loved theater, I did a lot of theater [in] high school and college, and then I got working with the Guiding Star Project, and I started doing some marketing work for them, and was like, "This is awesome. This is all about building holistic care for women." And it was so rooted in, obviously the pro-life movement, but then there's women's health and preventative care and just seeing... I didn't realize how many avenues there were and how many needs there were in the spaces for education. And that really, just a light bulb went on. It was like "Okay, I actually think I'm going to go for this new master's program for health communication at the University of Minnesota." And it was just an incredible experience. There were four of us in our cohort, and I went right after my undergrad, and it was really... it was all God. It seriously was, because I never thought I would be someone to get a master's. I'm not like A student, loving tests and all those... tests are always really hard! [laughs] When are they not? But really I just, I hated test taking. I liked learning, it was fun, I loved being around people more! [laughs] But I think, you know, God really equipped me and putting me in this position, and so I tailored a lot of my coursework to women's health.
So I really got to see, you know, what is the current conversation going on in a lot of these courses? Like, what are women talking about? What are women concerned about? Where are we seeing health care focusing or not focusing? And there was little to no discussion around fertility awareness, and just the understanding of integration with reproductive health, which was just so fascinating to me. And so, in that process, I really started to think about, "Okay, where do I fit into this space? Like how can I solve these needs where I'm seeing these gaps where we could have more integration?" And I think, again, it comes back to that wholeness and like my own journey of desiring wholeness. I also desired wholeness of body, mind, soul for others. And seeing those gaps in women's health was really making me re-think, you know, what could I do? How can I serve? And so I really focused on more of the communications and strategy, while also having some background in understanding how to read research and what would that look like to build out research if I wanted to do something like that. And so, just having that experience was just such a gift to be able to do that.
17:03 RACHEL: Yeah, there's just so many things that I want to dig into there, but it just goes to show the power of being open with these kinds of things and how the environment that you're in can really set yourself up for success, or on the other end, it can also set you up for failure. So the fact that you and your mom had built this connection —first off, I found that to be really cute! I find it's like it's so cute and so beautiful that mother-daughter relationship. But also just how she was able to, you know, share and open up her own comfortability, as well as like her own knowledge and education, and just like set you up for success. And, you know, I don't know if she would have thought that all those years ago as you were starting to talk about it that here you would be out doing this for, not just yourself and maybe not just your friends, but also other women all over the place, because one of the things that I've really come to reflect upon, like as I talk to more women like yourself who are in this area of fertility awareness and education around that, is that there seems to be like two sides it. On the one hand there are no women or groups that are very, very keen and ready to kind of spread that gospel about, you know, like our bodies are good—and they are!—like our bodies are good, we were made good. And every part of it, no matter how foreign or strange it might be, is still good and it's still part of who we are and our reproductive process and cycle.
But on the other hand, there are a lot of people who may be, understandably so, are uncomfortable, and they don't want to talk about these things or they find it weird or taboo and they don't want to speak out. And I guess that's not really a question but it was just a reflection that I was having as I was hearing you just share your experiences with that and how that's led you to pursue more schooling and just more knowledge, and then being this advocate for other women so that they too can really enter into these conversations.
19:02 BRIDGET: I think you're so right about the discomfort and not knowing what to do with it, and I think that is something that the more conversations I have with women, it takes it's that first initial conversation, it's like, "Oh, girl, what are we talking about?" You know? And a lot of times when I have women coming to me they're already at that place of like "Okay, I want to know more. I may be uncomfortable with my body or uncomfortable with my period, but I want to know more." But I think, in the general sense, if someone asked me, "So what do you do?" or, you know, just even with my mother-in-law or my husband's cousins and they're like, "So what do you do?" You know? There's this sense of, "Oh no, what is she gonna talk about at dinner?"
And I think, you know, there's obviously, you know, place and time, the reverence that we need for our bodies. But I think just scratching the surface, starting those conversations, just getting someone to think about their health in a different way, in a more integrative way. In the same sense that I think, you know, when I initially was starting charting in college, some of my friends were like, "What? You're going to track your period?" And then in the process of journeying together it was like, "Wait, this is actually so awesome!" But it takes time! And I think sometimes, it can be easy for me to forget as well, like, it's a process. It's a journey. And, you know, if you're struggling with thinking that 'my period's gross' or 'my fertility feels like a burden,' it's okay to start there. That's not shameful, you don't have to be ashamed of it, because it's just, it's where you are! And I think sometimes we can forget that and we think that we just have to be in a space of like, "I'm totally comfortable with my body. There's no problem, I can wear whatever, I can do whatever." It's like... and even that in some ways is a perversion of that understanding of the rest of our bodies because it's like these extremes, "I hate it" or "I love it so much, it doesn't matter what I do." And it does! And so how do we find that that middle, that space where we're meeting both and saying, "Okay, yes. I am comfortable my body, but I also reference my body."
20:51 RACHEL: Yeah, very Theology of the Body. I love that so much, just because for obvious reasons, John Paul II is our guy around here with this podcast! At some point, you had all this knowledge and this ambition and desire, really, to help women with this, and at some point you had started Managing Your Fertility. And I know that you also were our participants as part of the GIVEN Forum, so I'd love to hear what that journey was like, just because I think many times, especially as women, like we have dreams we have ambitions, and we can be very wary— like I know that I was with this podcast—we can be so wary to take that next step or, you know, use the analogy of looking at the roadmap earlier and just being like, "Where to go?" or "What to do next? What is the next turn that I have to take?" So taking that first step is really hard, but I would love to hear how you came to have this wonderful ambition, and then how that ended up as Managing Your Fertility.
21:49 BRIDGET: So I, with all my charting in college, I wasn't specific with a particular method, I hadn't worked with a practitioner, so I was really just charting data for myself just to have better awareness. And so, when David and I became engaged, I was in my first year of grad school, and we were taking...well, before we even started taking NFP classes, we started looking. And we're like, "Okay well, there's just got to be one site we go to and it'll have all the list of things, and it should be pretty easy!" And I thought, okay, how hard can it be? You know, I have some data, this will be great. And we ended up [laughs] scheduling in our calendars like a 45-minute time block, we'll pick a method that, you know, that sounds good to us and then we'll sign up for classes, so we make sure we're doing that, because our archdiocese requires that as part of marriage prep.
So we sat down—I remember being at David's family's house on their deck—and we started looking and we're like, "Oh my gosh, there isn't one place to get... like, there's some websites that list it, some archdioceses list different methods." And we're like, "Well, are some not okay and some okay?" So we're going into USCCB website, we started finding blogs. And it was about three hours later, and we were both had tons of tabs open, trying to figure out... we just wanted to be able to compare and contrast, and that was the biggest thing. I just want to be able to shop for a method, compare and contrast and say, "You know what? This gives me a good overview, I think we want hormonal-only." Or like, "Yeah, I think mucus-only, like, that sounds like a good fit for both of us and for me if we're tracking everything."
And so, in that space I remember feeling this frustration like, what the heck? Where is there one place I could go to? And I kept digging, I had reached out to different individuals who I knew were much more in the space of Theology the Body, women's health, because it was like, "You know what? We probably missed it. There was probably something really obvious, we just weren't paying attention." And through the conversations I had, I wasn't really coming up with anything, and I had no one was really saying, "Oh yes, this one website has a good database, or this is intended for, really, for laypeople," because there was—there is the FACTS website and that's really targeted towards medical professionals. So while it was helpful, it was too overwhelming for me being someone entering into the space of fertility awareness methods.
So, I was really just like, "Okay Lord, I really feel like you're calling me to do this. This seems crazy, but, you know, this ties in with women's health, but I, like, I don't know if I do anything out of it without, you know, outside of a ministry, you know? Or just something I do pro bono or it just maybe I just have pay for a website have it live there and I'll just update it!" I had no plans beyond that, but I knew somehow it was tying in with everything. I just had that feeling, but I had no vision for what that might even entail, but I saw the GIVEN Project pop up because it was shared by Jenna Guizar Blessed is She Facebook group. And it was like, the deadline was the next night and I was like, "Okay, I think this could be it. I think we should do it." So—and by we, I texted my best friend—and I said, "Hey, you've been charting with me. Why don't we just apply together and see what happens and we could do this, we could build out the site?" And she was like, "Well, um, sure! Okay, let's do it!" So we applied, we got our applications in like the night it was due, like, 11:59 PM! And we waited and we thought like, "Oh my gosh, I don't even know, like this... we'll see what happens, we'll see what happens." And we were accepted and we were just like, I remember like calling each other, being like, "We got in! Like, oh my gosh!"
And from there, it was really just an amazing opportunity! GIVEN really helped, really, I mean make this happen, really helped me to take practical steps because they really provided so many great speakers, resources, work groups. And then, you know, they wanted you to build out a plan. So you build out a plan and you have a launch date. And so, my friend Julia and I did a launch date, a soft launch, the next year but realized that a lot more work needed to be done. And at that point, she was accepted into a program at NYU for performance arts, teaching and pedagogy for music and vocal performance. So, she was like, "You know, I think I need to step back from this, but I'm so excited for you I'm happy to help however I can." And so it really—no hard feelings whatsoever, we're best friends! And so it was like "Okay, this is like where God's calling us next! You need to do this path, and I guess I'm doing this path."
And so I launched in July of 2018, and I really kept it as a very, very side project and really just kept the website updated. I worked with the Minnesota Department of Health, I worked in newborn screening. Which again, I find just God being like "Hey, I'm gonna put you around the babies again, because I know you love them and I love the pro-life movement and helping women." And so it just felt like I was always kind of being in these spaces that was always tied to the pro-life movement because of newborn screening is all around 'let's keep babies healthy.' They're born, how do we get them healthy if they're sick? That, I learned so much in that role, I was with them for three years. And it was in this past year, after having my daughter, that I was really feeling this tug and seeing, you know, the opportunities that maybe could come about if I invested in this project more, if I invest in this business more and really see it grow and helping women more actively in the space and in growing out opportunities I could provide for them to really expand the conversation.
So, I have NFP Week of 2020, I just, I put myself out there on social media a lot more. I started connecting with individuals. God placed some amazing women in my path. I joined a Mastermind group of Anna Saucier and some incredible women. And He just came through! I mean really, truly, there's no other way to describe it. And I was realizing just the benefit of working from home that I could do it. I was doing it my job and it hit a point where I said, "David, I think I need to step back from this other job and invest fully in Managing Your Fertility. And I know financially this is crazy. This doesn't really make sense on paper, but I think this is where God's calling me next and we need to see what happens." I turned in my notice, things kind of came to a head that it makes sense for me to do that, just in other things that were going on in my job, and I jumped in! I literally, in the last week of my job, I had a radio interview for Managing Your Fertility, I was doing another podcast interview and I had meetings set up and things were just taking off and I couldn't believe it. I was like, "Oh my gosh, Lord! Like this is for real. I could maybe do this!" And I mean it's been one of the best adventures I think we've done yet. My husband is starting a new job himself. God just like came in and was just like, "Okay, I know that you're worried about finances, but I need you to trust me." And He made it so clear, like, usually I'm like, "Okay Lord, You don't have to put it in writing." And He put it, like, stuff in writing right David was reading a book for his small group and just pointing it out, 'you can't have attachment to money.' Like, wealth is good but like we can't be so attached that we're not willing to like say "yes" to God. And he was like, "Bridget, you need to turn in that two-week notice." Like, these are too many things coming about, conversations we're having, things that are working out, like, we have to trust that God's gonna provide for us financially, and He can do this.
And so, we did it and it felt like crazy and freeing all at the same time, and he's starting a new job in which God is coming through financially! And so I'm able to invest more in the business. I have family that helps watch my daughter Felicity, and it is totally the best! So that's just kind of that expanse of where everything's gone and where it's going, so I'm really excited to have this time to grow this business and really seeing what women need to be able to provide for them, through emails, through courses, through conversations, through podcasting and so many different avenues.
28:53 RACHEL: And you mentioned 2020! So, as all of us know, 2020 was kind of a year and that's putting it very lightly! But I am consistently blown away by, you know, women like yourself and I've talked to a number of women now who have started their ministries or podcast, their businesses, in the midst of the pandemic. So I think if nothing else, as you're highlighting with your work situation and then your husband's work situation, obviously the pandemic has been difficult, and I don't want to overlook that. But at the same time, there's been this explosion of inspiration and people really taking the plunge and trusting that the Lord is going to provide in whatever capacity, in whatever way makes sense for the individual. And I just find that to be so remarkable! And, you know, like you said, the moment that you put in that two-weeks notice, you had like different opportunities in place already to speak more about it, and I know that it's still quite new and quite fresh, but what have been some of the biggest, I guess, like wins so far? Or just moments where you're like, "God, I didn't know you could do that! Like, that's so cool!"
30:04 BRIDGET: That is such a good question, and... oh man. I think it's just, it's been the freedom to create, and just the energy that I have in saying, "Okay, these are the different ideas I have how to make them happen?" Just showing up more, you know, as basic as it sounds, showing up more on social media and having more honest conversations around sex and human sexuality has been a huge one that I see so many women engaging in and that explosion of conversations that's really got me thinking and re-thinking, "Okay why don't we do talking about? What's missing in our conversations in the church?"
I'm launching a podcast in April, as we've chatted about! And that is something that really came from women saying, "I would love it if this could be in a podcast format, because right now Instagram Live is kind of hard if I'm going off social media or trying to listen and I'm in the car and working out." And I thought, "Okay, I have time to do this." And to be honest, it was terrifying to think about starting because I was like, "What the heck am I doing? This is crazy!" But it was really just like, okay, one foot in front of the other. One thing at a time, one step at a time. And I'm going to be launching in early April, like it's already at this point to say like, I can do this!
I'm also going to be building out courses for women. I'm specifically focusing on college-aged women, and really wanting to just lay a really good foundation for why charting matters, how to start mindset work, integrated living and what that looks like and just different questions to ask yourself. So just those topics to really help encourage women so that you're not in that time and that space of engagement and going, "Okay I need to learn NFP now and I have six months before the wedding and I'm stressed out, my cycle's probably irregular and I want to do this well!" You know? Just... not that that's bad to be in that space. It happens, I mean that's what I did! But I think just to be able to help women start that conversation sooner because I benefited so much and having some knowledge going into learning about NFP specific to marriage.
But I think it's just how opportunities have come up to be able to, you know, chat with you and your listeners, and to be meeting women in the space of NFP and fertility awareness, different leaders and influencers and having these conversations, connecting with my archdiocese and working with them to help them grow out their NFP ministries and just connecting in with marriage groups. It's just been incredible to me to see the explosion of doors that have opened through my willingness to say, "Okay that I'm getting this other job when I feel like it's more secure. It has, obviously you know, like I have a secure paycheck like right now I'm building out a business and that's a lot of work and it's working its own way." But to see the doors that He's opened in just two months and the people that I met in two months has been unreal to me, just to see that come through. And I just I'm thinking about it and kind of pausing like, "Oh my gosh like it's, what a crazy awesome two months to see how He's just introduced some of the different ways to do this!" And as a mom as a stay-at-home mom, you know, trying to figure out, okay, where can I put in this time? Is it during nap time? Is it during play time, you know? Getting creative with when I'm having conversations or am I foldding laundry as I'm on some calls? And it's okay to do that and just I love the flexibility and the freedom that has really come from this place to just so much more peace that I realized was missing in the past months leading up to this, where I was really struggling with, like, should I or shouldn't I? Should I or shouldn't I? And just getting too caught up in the shoulds, to be honest.
33:18 RACHEL: And I have major respect for entrepreneurs, period! But particularly like this kind of emerging brand, or—I don't think you all are emerging—but mom entrepreneurs, or mom...Mom-trepreneurs? Trademark? I don't know! [laughs] But, like, that's beautiful because being a mom, in and of itself, is a full time job! Like, we know that! And I have huge respect for, you know, my mom and moms everywhere. So just to be able to pursue your dreams and go forth and do something that is so pivotal for other people, for other women out there, to really give of yourself in the same way that you give so wholly to your husband and your family, your daughter to be, like what a gift. So, that is just so exciting.
34:03 BRIDGET: I will add on, too, I think really that has helped me is seeing women come forward and share their stories, especially moms who are in that space of working and being moms and seeing like, what does that look like? I love Leah Darrow's posts... well, I know she has multiple now with the hashtag #BabiesAndDreams, and just seeing that both can work together. And I can attest from my own experience like my... Managing Your Fertility and my work really didn't become clear to me of the value that I could give and the time that I could give it until I had my daughter. I was just sort of like one of many things that I was doing and when I had her it was like, priorities started to become clear for me and my story because I think I was someone [who was] always busy, always doing things and was quick to burnout! And I had to realize like, "Wow, I can't choose that! As a mom, I don't want to always be burned out. I want to be a little more proactive."
And when it hit the point where she's like six months and I decided like I'm just gonna like, put myself out there with Managing Your Fertility. Let's just see what happens. And to see the response and to see that it was something that I love doing and that I could do both. And it doesn't mean that I'm doing it all, you know? I have help to watch her and there's nothing wrong in that, you know? And that I have to like say, "Okay, what are certain things going to get done?" My husband and I have a chore chart just so we can keep the house running, you know? We trade off dinner and meal planning and so we've had to get very creative in practical ways. So I by no means I'm saying, you know, you can do it all! Because I think that idea that we're supposed to do it all on our own isn't as silly because we need each other, you know? We need each other if it's through affirmation, if it's through helping watching kids, if it's, you know, nanny-sharing, if it's helping each other with laundry, if it's phone calls and coffee chats and dreaming together! But I think it's so possible to be creative, and when you allow God into your life to say like, "I can say yes to life, I can say yes to new life, and I can say yes to dreaming, and these ideas that are blooming and growing." That they don't have to live in different spaces. And that's something I've become so much more passionate about, especially in the realm of fertility awareness because so often women are hearing your fertility is bad, your children get in the way if you want to have a career and move up, this is the only way to do it.
Now to an extent, yes, there are issues in work culture that, yes, they need to be addressed and there are some barriers to that. But we are the generation to lead the charge. We may not see the fruits of the work that we're doing and the hard work that we're putting in to be able to show women you can do both. To be able to live this out and remind women that you can do both, reminding our friends and our family, ourselves. But if this means that my daughters can have a space and a place where they can work and do both and feel free in that decision, and see that as a cultural shift and narrative that is totally worth it.
I think it's so easy in the space of Amazon Prime and things coming so quickly, like in instant gratification, we forget that some of the most beautiful things take so much time to build and you may not see it yourself. I mean, I think about Sagrada Familia when we went to Spain a couple of years ago. And [Spanish architect Antoni] Gaudi, he never saw it! The man was hit by a car, and they thought he was a homeless man! And they took him to the hospital and they were like, "We don't know who this guy is." And Sagrada Familia has been... this church is magnificent and it's been years, I mean like, I think 100 plus years at this point, 125 years, in the making. But the amount of people that go through it and are impacted and write about it and paint about it and the beauty that he left on the world, and changing it and probably impacting conversions, you know? It's like that is such a beautiful testament to the simple, beautiful life he led as an artist and building this church. And how much can we do that in our own lives, not only with our own children, but with the dreams that we create?
And so that's really my hope is that yes, would I love to see women's health change in the next 20 years so I can participate in it? Yeah! [laughs] That'd be great. I'd love to like have multiple doctors options to say like "Hey, they all understand NFP, this is awesome! I'm not in like, scarcity mode in my state." But that might not happen, but I'm willing to do the work so that maybe for my daughter, it could. Maybe for my granddaughters it could. And that reality is so beautiful, and that's where I think we can't see the full map, right, with God. Like we were talking about. But God sees where we're going, God sees what can happen and that's the piece that keeps me going, it keeps me motivated.
38:09 RACHEL: Amen to all of that! And I think that you know with a woman like yourself leading the charge, or who are so passionate about doing this kind of work. I'm bought into it and I'm just so excited to see where this all is gonna go! So again I just, I want to thank you for that. And I think that this ties into a question that's kind of been ping-pongingin my own head around this. And it's funny because I think it was a couple of weeks ago now, I was having a conversation with my own mom about NFP.
Now as a full disclaimer like I'm nowhere... you know, I'm not engaged, I'm not being ready to be married but, you know, to your point that you made earlier, many times there are young couples that kind of, you know, they get engaged and then all of a sudden they find themselves in marriage prep and they're like, "Wait, we had to think about this?" And then they're kind of left scrambling to pick up the pieces and I don't want to say that that's everybody, but just based off of some conversations that I've had with friends who are engaged, they're just like, "No one taught us this!" Or, "We didn't know that we were supposed to prepare this way!" And my mom was even saying that when her and my dad were engaged and they were in marriage prep, they had, I think, it was maybe a two or three hour course, at the most. And that's already almost thirty years ago now.
So, fast forward, here in my archdiocese, it seems like maybe things have kind of progressed and of course that we have people like yourself all over the continent, I would hope, that are really spreading this awareness and this education. And I know that you touched on this a little bit earlier on in our conversation, but just around what it is that the church can do a little bit more of when it comes to opening up this conversation around, whether it's natural family planning, fertility awareness... because I think we talk a fair bit about Theology of the Body and we have many beautiful speakers who talk about that but yeah just around like the whole like body aspect of it. The physical, physiological aspects of it. What can we, as the church, or what can the church do more to open up the playing field, so to speak, so that we can have more of these active conversations?
40:12 BRIDGET: I think a lot of it stems from an approach that we need to maybe transition to, to be more creative in the solutions that we're finding and the conversations that we're having. Because, you know, I think in the conversations I've had with different individuals leading marriage and family life offices or in the NFP ambassador role, or something like that. You know, archdioceses are strapped with time, money, resources, of how many people they can hire, you know? I think if an archdiocese could have a huge team of like, ten people taking on NFP, to be able to really develop programs and information sessions and marketing and flyers and website updates. All of it, you know, that would be amazing! But I think for many, it's one to two people, and they are doing the best they can. I mean, these are people who are... oh my gosh, burning the candle both ends trying to do as much as they can, and then they might have another role thrown at them that they're like, "Okay, now I have to do this too and navigate a couple different things." And I don't think we realize, maybe we do, that approach is such a disservice to long-term, the impact that we can make in the space of fertility awareness and natural family planning.
But at the same time, maybe it's an opportunity to really welcome in more laypeople and be more collaborative. Not to say that our archdioceses aren't, but I think for us as lay individuals, and for anyone who's listening who may be saying, "I really have a passion on my heart to help with NFP in my parish or in my archdiocese," do it! Go after it! We need so many more people! Like you said, you hope there are more, and I do too! Because it's not up to just me. You know? As much as I say, "Okay, I'm a one-stop shop." Sure, I'm a one-stop shop for some women. But for some women, I'm not their flavour! I'm not the type of person that they wanna be working with. They really like someone else. And that's great! Honestly, we need options. I mean, I think that's the biggest thing is to know that there are options available. Who can you go to? Who can you work with where you can say with, "I really connect with this organization or this person, and I'm gonna work with them and they really help me set up for success in understanding my body and embracing the church's teaching."
So I think, from that standpoint, I think it is important. You know, the USCCB is very good about having standards and procedures for NFP and for what can be shared and how to talk about it. And that's good, because we do need a framework, because we need to make sure everybody's in alignment, we're all in the same page, we're fighting towards the same goal. But I think just opening that space for more laypeople to connect, to collaborate, to be offering their services to the archdiocese. Maybe, you know, you're stepping in as a consultant. Maybe that's something that you can do, and you say, "I'm a web designer, I'm really passionate about helping this area, I can offer my services this way." And I'm not saying pro-bono, by the way. I think that's something that we often hear in the space of Christian-Catholic ministry world, you know? It has to be free? And it doesn't! And I don't think archdioceses are interested in that. Unless they're really strapped, sure, think about it! You know, if that's something you can offer, great. But also, if they are opportunities for people to grow out business, grow out these opportunities to have that sustainability for their own family life but then also serving their parish and the needs of the world, like how beautiful is that we can be working in unison?
And so, I think that's something that's really shifted my perspective in the past couple of years, being in this space, that... I think I started out thinking, "Oh, it's the archdiocese and why aren't they more put together? Why don't they have more staff?" And the more I've seen from the inside just how hard these individuals are working, and they're trying to get up to speed but then something else comes up, or they have other projects that they're trying to work on. It's really been a call to action for me to say, "Okay, I feel call to serve in this space, and I'm not doing it out of frustration or bitterness, because it's like ugh, I was jipped by my archdiocese!" No! It's that there's so much more that we can do, and I need to ask myself the question, like, "Okay God, where do you need me? Where do you need me in the vineyard? Because You're calling me, You placed threse desires on my heart. I love talking about cervical mucus and periods and working with women. So like, where do you need me?" And I think that's a question we, much more often, need to ask, because we are the church. And I think it's really easy—myself very much included in this—to say, "The Church needs to fix this. The pope needs to do something different around NFP. He needs to change it." And now I'm much more like, you know what? I want to be at the tables with a lot of other people and saying, "Yeah, once a year we're gonna fly to Rome, we're gonna talk, we're gonna meet with people." I don't know what that would look like, but that's one of my dreams! And just saying like, how can we expand the conversation? How can we proliferate the message of Theology of the Body, proliferate the message of fertility awareness and natural family planning and really helping create these ties and connections and engagements so that someone can think of five people off the top of their head when they're hearing about natural family planning and a friend says, "I wanna learn more!" And you're like, "Oh, well there's this person, there's this person, there's this person, there's this... oh, and then there's this person too!" So you get to go explore and figure out which option you like the best.
I think that's where I'd really love this space go, and I think that really is starting to happen, which is really fun just in the connections that I've made and seeing different organizations pop up. I think when I was first growing, I definitely thought like, "Oh... they're starting to do what I'm doing. Why am I doing what I'm doing?" And my husband really had to remind me like, "Well, what you offer is gonna be different from somebody else because you are unique and unrepeatable. And what you offer and what someone connects with is... like, they may connect with you and be like, 'Bridget's my girl. She's my NFP lady!' And someone else might say, 'You know what? It's actually Emily over there. Emily, I like the way she talks about it!'" And that's good! And I really had to let that seep in and say, "Okay, I'm not just wanting to be hype-y and say community over competition." I genuinely mean that! Because I can't do all the work, and I have to respect and respond out of the space of my own skills, too. Yes, I can always learn, but where is God calling me? Where is that market need in the NFP space? You know, what are my skills, and what do I love doing? Because then I can really be in the space where I'm on fire. Yes, I'm learning and I'm growing, but I'm also serving out of a space where I'm passionate. If I'm passionate about college-aged women, okay! Or if I'm passionate about moms with, you know, six plus kids. You can get so niche in this space, or you could be a little bit broader, but just to say like, that's okay! Because I got really stuck in thinking that I have to serve everybody. I have to serve every woman. And I've just learned in this space like no, I can be a little bit more particular in saying, "Yes! Any woman can go to this site. I'm happy that they do. But, I'm really going to focus, for example, my courses on college-aged women because I really feel passionate from my own experience and what I've seen in the conversations I have." Like, I want to start more conversations on college campuses, and how can I do that? And how can I engage?
So, that's kind of a long-winded answer for you, Rachel! [laughs] But I think, you know, we are the church! And so, we have to respond and we have to be bold in saying, "Okay Lord, where are you sending me?" Because He will provide. I have learned that in the past two months especially, like, oh my gosh, He will provide!
46:33 RACHEL: Yeah, and that ties in so nicely with the whole theme of this podcast, but also I want to just further echo your point about—you know again, not to be hype, but yeah community over competition. But it's so true! And you mentioned the word flavour, and I always chuckle a bit when I hear that just because I remember being at World Youth Day, hearing Pope Francis use that in a homily, and I was like, "What the heck? Flavours? What are you talking... what flavour am I?" But you're right in a sense that all of us, being unique and unrepeatable human beings, we will naturally have people grativate towards us, and you know, there will be also a fair chunk of the population who may not. And that's okay, that's why we need one another, that's why we lift each other up instead of tear each other down. And maybe the last thing I'll mention is, the fact that we need women, especially women, at this table around NFP but also fertility awareness and thinking about physiologically. Because these are very much women's issues. So not to say that the church—the pope, the bishops, whoever—not to say that they can't be involved, but really, it's like we know, you know, based on science, based on what our bodies look like, they are so different. So who better to talk about these than having lay women or even religious women, but having women at those conversations, at those tables, to speak to the importance of these conversations and then, you know, opening up more dialogues about this. So that's super cool and I'm really glad that you're doing that!
48:07 BRIDGET: Thank you. Yeah, it's really exciting. And I love what you're doing on this podcast, and just, sharing so many different women's stories and in different spaces. I know that you'd said that you've had these conversations around fertility awareness with different individuals in the space, and it's like, this is so good for women to have this experience, you know? And just seeing how many different people are at the table, how many different people are serving. And I just really wanna encourage any woman listening who thinks, "Could I be at that table?" Yes! There's already a seat for you, I think your name card's on it! So if you're thinking that, you know, you really have a passion for NFP and you're thinking I don't know where to start, I literally just had someone join a monthly call that I started this past month with different leaders and influencers. And she said, "Look, I'm really new to this. I'm a convert, but I have a passion for this. I have no idea what it'll look like." I said, "Great! You should join us." She's now starting an ambassador program at her church, she's going in the spaces of like podcasting, she's just going for it. And I'm like, "Yes! This is what we need!" You don't have to have a really thorough business plan. It will come, and I know like, I'm someone who really thought you have to have a perfect business plan, but as—well, I'm in recovery mode of perfectionism. I'm working on it really hard! [laughs] Because I realize that yes, planning is good. Building your skills, very good. Especially in the space of NFP, we need people who understand marketing, who can make beautiful content, who can help share the beauty of the female body.
So yes, are those skills good? Absolutely. But we need all kinds. We need women who can speak well to this, who have a gift of building relationship with women, who are willing to be bold in speaking to this in groups, who are awesome at speaking to hundreds of people, who are willing to work with their pastor in building out programming. Like, there are so many areas in this space! I probably couldn't list them all off in an hour because there are just so many different ideas that people come up with for how they could expand the conversation and help women actively chart their bodies, but also enter into the space of loving their bodies and respecting the bodies that God has given them. So, I just think, if that is on your heart, one, you can contact me and say "Hey, I want in on that call!" or "I have questions!" Great! But also just step out! Start that Instagram account, you might have ten followers. It will grow! Because this is a message that women are hungry for. Women are so hungry for this!
50:23 RACHEL: Yeah, that's incredible and absolutely. Every person, no matter who you are, what you do, you know, you have something unique and irrepeatable to bring. And I think that this whole conversation, I love how it's journeyed to bring us to this point around the feminine genius, because it was so clear to me that, over the course of this conversation, you've shared so much of your own heart and your feminine identity and what it is that draws you to that. So, you know for yourself Bridget, I would love to hear your reflection of your personal feminine genius and how you've seen that grow and flourish throughout your life.
50:58 BRIDGET: I think my feminine genius has really flourished... you know, I think it has to be in my receptivity. Because I think I'm someone that, having being wounded by friendships and by guys in relationships in my life that weren't very healthy or just... they weren't, you know, they could have been better, right? We could have been helping each other, growing in holiness or being more thoughtful. And I think in that space, it reallly closed me off to the willingness of vulnerability. It was something that I wanted, but I was terrified.
And I was thinking about this when you had first emailed me to just ponder this. Because it was like, "Wow, Lord, how has my feminine genius flourished?" Not just in the space of my work, but I really went to the heart of who I am and what I desired, and I think that sense that I talked a little bit about at the beginning of that belonging. How much I wanted that, but how much I was scared of rejection. Vulnerability is so needed in the space of belonging. And something that has been so healing for me has been my marriage, and something that I learned very quickly in dating David is that I wasn't willing to be vulnerable. I wasn't allowing to receive his love and the ways in which he was really trying to live out his masculine genius in our relationship, because I was always like, "Oh, I can do it. I'm a strong woman. I can handle it." It was like, "You can open the door for me, but don't open the door for me, because I can do it. It's okay, I got it." You know? And I think in that space, in that realm of thinking, it really blocked me from saying, "You know what? Yeah, I can open the door, but I'd just like to receive. I would just like to receive the love that you're offering and to say I accept this, and this is beautiful."
And in the process of our marriage, you know, it started off with David saying, "Hey I think we should probably, you know... it's getting kinda late, maybe we should go to bed." And I'd be like, "How dare you. How dare you tell me when to go to bed and what to do. I'm being repressed, you are repressing me!" [laughs] And I really thought, you know like, kind of seriously, not... you know? I really had a hard time saying, "Okay, you're wanting the best for me." I've really had to ask God to open my heart to that and saying, "Okay, I wanna belong. I have this desire of belonging—in female friendships, in my marriage too!" And just seeing, you know, Lord, can you help me be more vulnerable? Be willing to receive? Be willing to give, but also to receive, because I was really good at giving, but I didn't want to accept things. And I think that's something that has manifested into my job as well, when people offer help. You know? Where they say, "Hey, would you like to collaborate?" It's like, "Yeah, I wanna receive you." You know, or when women ask me questions or want to have more conversation, it's like, I wanna receive you. I want to be able to create this space of vulnerability where we can have a conversation about something that's really personal. And then I'm willing to walking with you, and if I cry with you, I cry with you!
Just in these past few years especially, how God has really been working on my heart and challenging me in very active ways, because it's one thing to say like, "Lord, I wanna grow in this space and really own my feminine genius. So can you just snap your fingers and then it'll happen, right?" And then when you realize when that's, when you pray that prayer and they're are gonna be the opportunities for it to happen, where you have to choose it. And you're like, "Oh. Oh! Okay, now I have to choose or I can reject it." And so, I think that's really been the space to see at the deepest parts of my heart, the vulnerability and the belonging and just seeing how God has given me so many opportunities in there, and I'm so grateful for my husband, first and foremost, to really help me to live out my feminine genius. I've never felt more strong or alive, I think, in who I am as a woman as I do today. And I'm just like, "Wow Lord. You know, God-willing, I'll have more years to come, and just like, how You're gonna help show me and what this means to really be a woman." Because I know this isn't it. I know I still have a lot of work to do. But I think in this space of just the power and vulnerability, the power in showing up, receiving the person, and receiving people in my heart and in my life, and that it's okay, and it's good.