Stuffed and mangled manila envelopes packed with all manner of research studies etc. would only get us so far back in the ‘80s. Ultimately, the founding members of the secular Fertility Awareness Network realized that in order to learn all we could from each other, we’d have to meet in person. But because we didn’t have the benefit of financial backing as did religious natural family planning organizations that held annual conferences, we found ourselves flying each year to members’ homes for week-long stays instead.

One summer I treated my houseguests in Seattle to a stifling tiny attic space packed to the gills, but they were clearly so excited to be amongst like-minded instructors that they somehow failed to notice that the temp often reached into the 90s as they tried to sleep at night in that oppressive space.

Another year we slept in a beautiful round yurt deep in the trees of a co-housing community in Alabama, and used the lake as our private bathtub. Still another year, we all slept on the floor of a small New York apartment that was so dark that we never knew what the weather was like until we walked down the long and narrow hall to glimpse outside.

With each year that passed, our excitement about the field of Fertility Awareness grew as we realized that we were creating an entirely new way for women of reproductive age to finally understand both their cycles and the inner workings of their amazing bodies.