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  • Writer's pictureNeža Krek



Neža Krek: Carola von Szemerey is our guest today. She has been diving deep into self-discovery, personal development, and inner growth. For the past 10 years, she has worked as an osho rebalancer, bodyworker, active meditation, and emotional release guide in a holistic retreat center hosting and CO-hosting retreats. While living in a Brazilian eco-village, she trained as a raw food detox guide, opened her own hostel, and ran her own business.

Since 2016 she focuses on women's work guiding ceremonies for women to reconnect with their sacred femininity. In 2020, she published a book: the sound of sisterhood, which is accompanied by an online course for women to integrate their cyclic awareness into their daily life.

Yes, we'll talk about women's periods today. And what reconnecting to women's cycles can bring to us as people, not only women, and to us as educators. What you also need to know is that Carola von Szemerey and I go way back. We always have fun when we speak up to each other.

Ten years ago we met at Knowmads business school that today doesn't exist anymore, which is a fun fact. But the spirit is still there, especially in the community of people who have gone through this program. I'm so happy that we stayed in touch throughout all these years and that we share our passion for the facilitation of really immersive personal journeys. However, yours is gone on a very different path than mine. I'm so happy to see that you're using similar or the same tools, reaching really beautiful and important results with your clients and going about it completely differently. I hope that this conversation will give our listeners a glimpse of what's possible when you apply facilitation and when you really dive into what you want to do as a person. When you follow your gut.


Carola von Szemerey: 10 years ago when we met was really a crossroad for me. I went through the program for a year and for the first time, I could not adapt to a crowd. Because there was no crowd. Everyone who was there was very individual. Before I always had the feeling that I was different. But I never saw it as a positive thing. Rather as something bad. I was still myself but tried to be more like them. When I was at Knowmads, there was no one I could adapt to. So why not be me? That was a very important insight for me back then.

The whole program really opened my horizon. For the first time, I saw that I could actually do what I like and can transform my being into my doing. I wanted to figure out who I am, or at least get closer to it. I did so many different things in the last 10 years. It's not that I find out one thing and then it's gonna stay like this forever. But at the moment that I find out what my soul or what my purpose is right now. Then I can actually transform it into action.

Knowmads gave me some tools and inspiration on how I can actually turn this being into my doing. I tried many different things when I was there. I felt that the way of teaching and learning in university didn't really correspond with my being and what I felt. That's why I joined Knowmads. At first, I didn't even know that these alternatives exist.

After I did this program, throughout the year, with the tribe, with having lots of sharing in sessions that were facilitated very well, I could really be myself, express, evolve, and grow. No one was teaching me what to do. They showed that this space, “this is what I offer” and you can now freely flow in this space. Since then I found out that I can really do what I like and want to do. Since then I have been an entrepreneur, sometimes more and sometimes less successful. But I would not be able to go back to a different system because I know I can create anything that I want. I found this power within which evolved over the years. Facilitating was like the art of hosting and I fell completely in love.

Neža Krek: I think it would be useful for us to explain very shortly what Knowmads was and how we experienced it. The way that it was advertised and how I understood it was that it's a creative entrepreneurship one-year intensive. It was very technically organized. Each person that came in was part of a so-called tribe, a group of people that went through this program together and at the same time. You were getting workshops on a weekly basis and encouraged to create your own project.

What we got as students was something very different. We were not misled, but it was very different from what I got. Normally in business schools, they will teach you how to create your business, how to a marketing strategy, etc. It starts with the how. At Knowmads they start with the why. Not only what you learn but also how you learn is turned upside down. I was 30, so we were 10 years apart and I already came with my university finished and work experience. I had to unlearn so much. I am so happy you came there without the conditioning of a university. Here you are 10 years later, without a freaking university degree and you are totally fine. Without following the prescribed career or education steps.


Carola von Szemerey: We were very much encouraged to think about the why. Why do I do things? We were also encouraged to call in teachers that would help us on our path. I would figure out that I needed to learn this now in order to move on. We did not just learn random stuff that we might use at some point. I was starting a project and had no idea about a certain topic so we would get someone to teach us that.

There were pre-planned workshops but you had the freedom to add whatever was needed at that moment. It was a good balance between having structure and freedom. We also had a very transparent view of the budget. The money we paid was completely gone into teachers and workshops. This way we knew how much our budget was to get other teachers. Of course, our tribe leaders were there all along and helped to find creative ways to make things happen.

Everything was possible. We would find a way to make it happen. The support of the tribe was also incredible. We would have lots of sharing circles. The youngest person was just a bit younger than me and the oldest in the group was 16 years older than me. It was a broad spectrum and of course, we were not all on the same path. Some actually already had their business and some were just starting. Everyone would support each other. It was really nice to have different generations and viewpoints. Everyone came from different areas and we were interested in different topics. The diversity and different backgrounds made it very exciting.

Same with you and me, when we come together it's like family. We were not in the same tribe but it created this family. If I need any of the Knowmads, I know we speak the same language. There is no small talk. It's all so natural and that's precious.

Neža Krek: This experience is becoming more and more the way that I think education should move towards in the future. You mentioned diversity. It was really celebrated. We got tools to make collective decisions, which were the most frustrating ones. Like which coffee we buy as a collective. But that struggle and being supported in that struggle really connected us as a community.

Another thing that I try to translate into my work as much as possible is being together even though some are on different learning levels. What I'm hearing from you is that you were accepted for who you were at that very moment. You also had the chance to accept yourself. For me, that is so essential to create in education settings because the reality right now is much different.

Carola von Szemerey: I never went to university. So I can't really speak from my experience in university. But I can compare it to school and I knew I never want to have this again in my life.

Neža Krek: You are this typical entrepreneur who says, this is what the world needs. This is what I'm going to create.


Carola von Szemerey: Knowmads of course helped the women's work afterward. One thing about facilitation is that my teachers were doing education with the bodywork. At home, people asked me what I did observe in the group. I was just telling them and they looked at me: “how do you know this”. That was because I was sitting in circles a lot. I could see how I could really use this facilitation tool and group setting in any situation. Then I transitioned into women's work.

I just came out of a bit abusive and toxic relationship. Then a friend asked me if I wanted to join this women's circle. That was my first experience with women's circles, so I just fell into the next experience. I had also been studying my cycle and doing lots of ceremonies, diving into the wisdom of the cycle, rhythm, and nature. We as women have our own rhythm, just naturally because we are women. People would ask me to initiate the ceremony and I just went with it.


Carola von Szemerey: It's becoming more present that women step into their power, that women share and connect with their intuition, and get more in contact with themselves. Women's work is a deep self-study. It's not just doing a retreat on a weekend. It's about creating the awareness that we are cyclic beings in our day-to-day life. To really see that 'we' and bring it into our daily routine. It's about how to integrate this knowledge into our daily life, families, and work. As you can imagine it's actually pretty simple, nothing complex.

Lots of deep teachings are very simple. Everyone is supposed to understand them.

Women have cycles, we are on paths through different phases. Women can have different issues with their health. Nowadays many have pain or irregular cycles. They maybe take the pill or have lots of issues that are usually being resolved to something that doesn't go to the core.

That's because we have gone far away from our nature. But how can we fix the problem? We can't fix a problem that has been created more than 2030 years ago. Sometimes we can't fix it with the pill. How can I become aware of what's happening about my own emotions, habits, how I live, and how I am in my own environment? How can my cycle be my guidance?

I see the cycle as something that we go deeper and deeper every cycle. Every cycle we have the opportunity. When women start bleeding, they open a new cycle and go through a cycle. Then they start bleeding again at some point. They close one cycle and start over.

As women, we have this amazing tool already integrated into our bodies. We can start over every month. It's never too late.

If we did something that we didn't like in the last cycle, next cycle you will get a new chance. The deeper we go, the closer we get to our core, the closer we can connect with our inner voice, and the more we can connect with our inner power and our purpose. I really see it as a journey throughout the whole woman's life it's not just something that you fix. It's really something that needs change in the mind and awareness about how we see our lives and how we see our existence in this world.

From the first bleeding until menopause, we cycle deeper and deeper. We reach a certain wisdom because we know ourselves. We have gone through certain processes, and we can then fully embrace this wise woman when we become older and have a smooth transition into menopause. Because we are not going to be confronted with 1000 of things we didn't look at during our life.

Neža Krek: I would like to pause here and explain why I was so excited to have you here. I was working for a university and I had a follow-up conversation with the person handling the communication. He was of our age and we started chatting. And he asked me: “You also do something with productivity right?”. Because then I was also helping women through a career change, and designing really purposefully designing their careers. So I answered that I do but that I myself have trouble with productivity books and teachings because everything is done according to a 24-hour cycle and that's not a women's cycle.

He was blown away. All the big, celebrated productivity books were written by predominantly white men. But how can a man understand when I am most productive? Then, because I have a cycle, I'm being called moody, unpredictable, and all this stuff. I said: “look Julian, we are so predictable. We are just on a different scale. Like we are predictable on a 24-day, 28-day cycle. Not every day.”

If you organize your work around your cycle, then you will understand your girlfriend better and she will understand you better. He said, “wow now that you are telling me these things I have more empathy for my girlfriend, and I don't see her periods as a nuisance anymore.” Every man should know this. So that we can stop thinking about differences. We are all cyclical beings. Women just a bit more. We all have a cycle of life. Childhood, teenager, etc. Everything is a cycle. Every year we go through four seasons of a cycle.

That's why I was so happy you wanted to come and talk about this, especially with your wisdom. I believe that in education, this can also be embraced.

Carola von Szemerey: That would be amazing. I organize my whole business around my cycle. I know when I have time to create when I'm more outgoing, and when I need time to rest which is very important for women. Women mostly are always at full speed and at some point break down because it's too much. They try to be on the same rhythm as men, which just doesn't work or just to a certain extent. Or it only works with loads of painkillers or other external influences.

If women would actually start to get in tune with their own cycle they can, in seven days, be as productive as in a month. They can make the same things happen in a few days. If you put a woman in the wrong moment in front of an Excel sheet, she could be spaced out. Because it's not her energy at that moment.

We live in a world where our personal needs are sometimes put behind. We women put our needs behind because, like that, everyone else will be happy and in harmony.

I have done this as well sometimes because I was afraid to make men angry. It's also deeply rooted in our history.

The first step is to understand what your needs and capacities are. What do you actually feel like? This starts with observing. That's why I wrote the book “the sound of sisterhood” because I felt we needed a tool that would accompany women throughout their daily lives and create daily awareness. You just journal for five minutes, it doesn't have to e an hour because that's unrealistic. It had to be practical and that helps you to direct yourself to become your own inner compass. Without being guided by external factors.

It's about what you want to create. What you want to bring to the world. That's a process and not doesn't happen overnight. It also benefits men if women know what they need, feel, and know how to express it. It's tricky but doable. They will be able to tune in to the cycles and know much better how to deal with different situations. We also give space to them to actually access different parts of themselves. The moment we do this for ourselves, we do not only do it for ourselves but for lots of women that come after us and surround us. For our partners and family. Women around me started to tell me that they were so much more patient with their kids. Much more loving with their husband and in general much happier in their lives. It's just small shifts, nothing big. You only need commitment, dedication, and a little bit of discipline.

Neža Krek: Regardless of the fact that you didn't go to university you've seen so many different approaches in education. You've tried so many things.


Carola von Szemerey: The best-case scenario would be that in the last 3 years of high school, the students would already get some training to figure out what they want and who they are. Because right now I see a lot of young people going out of school not knowing who they are and what they want. These things should be thought about at least a year before you actually have to decide what if and what you are going to study.

Or for example, we leave the normal schools as they are. But afterward, you get the opportunity to continue something like Knowmads. Or something where they get the possibility to actually get in contact with their own power and dreams. What it is to give space and to hold space. For them to connect with their dreams regardless if they have a lot of money or reputation.

Many choose their path because of an external factor. Mostly because of money. Or if they get a good job, they will get a good reputation. A bigger shift is needed. I haven't been to university, but I think that if we would know better what we learned things for, that would be a key factor. To not just reproduce the content that was already written somewhere and write papers. We need to incorporate creativity that is within everybody. Let students create what they actually want to create.

We live in a system where you need to earn money. You have to pay rent, you have to pay that. Maybe you want to do something, but you don't know how to make money with that. Then you go in a different way because there is no career path. But if there would be support, to walk the way nobody walked before. That would encourage young people. I feel like, that if people really want to create something different, there is no support system for that.

So many times I was struggling with where I was going to live next month. I had to make many compromises with others because at first, they wouldn't be able to make money and sometimes it was hard to get funds. It's a lot of complicated and big papers and I felt so overwhelmed. I didn't know how to answer all this and also the process takes a lot of time. I went for the crowdfunding campaign and excelled.

Neža Krek: I remember you rocking that campaign, and people buying your unpublished book. That's a very different mindset, of course. I hope that educational systems will foster that more. I see that happening. However, entrepreneurship is also not the answer to everything.


Carola von Szemerey: I think innovation would be that we create spaces where young people trust themselves again. Where they are not in fear that they can’t do this or that.

Education is fear-based and not love-based. It's like: “if I don't do this master I won't get this job”.

Neža Krek: You would invite the shift from fear-based education towards a system that allows making choices out of love and curiosity,

Carola von Szemerey: Yes, joy, excitement, or passion.

Neža Krek: This is what you also encourage women to do. To really reach deep down, connect to their inner wisdom, and dare to go for that. Throughout knowing your own cycle, knowing your body.


Carola von Szemerey: For example, in schools, I would already start with girls aged 14/15, when they start to become a woman. Because we don't have any ritual like this. So we're gonna have rituals and sacred spaces already in school and at home. And also ceremonies for the boys. Or open for men, women, families, and everyone. It's really nice to open the space for everyone.

And then, of course, have spaces only for women and only for men. You have these evident circles or spaces.

It's really important to start young and to have someone to accompany them in their process. To show how beautiful it is to have menstruation and have someone who encourages them to get to know themselves. To know their value.

I see that with so many women. They think they do not have enough value. Self-esteem is often very low because of different reasons. So you start in the last years of school, and you already know yourself. You grow up being accompanied and by the time they get out of school, they will have lots of solutions on how to tackle the system and the things that need to be tackled at that moment.

Teachers holding space and creating rituals, facilitation. Have it integrated as a subject. Let it become a normal subject like biology. There are different forms of intelligence. I always felt dumb in school. I was not good at math, physics, or chemistry. And if you are not good at this, then you are not intelligent. But what about emotional intelligence? There is just a certain focus on what's important when a student is intelligent. The whole emotional part is invisible.

Women often don't get acknowledged, seen, and valued. So we feel like it is not important and try to be like others. Because we do want to be acknowledged and seen. We want to belong to a group. If we the teachers get trained well, they don't even have to teach. They just have to hold space. It's not about teaching anything. More about giving the space to remember that we carry wisdom inside. Often we know the answers. When we are looking outside, we are just looking for approval. But we already know what we need and what. But we seek approval because there is not enough self-trust. Changing this would have a big impact.

In universities, if women would be allowed to use their creative potential at the right moments they would be able to structure a bit more of their own rhythm in the learning system and see that there's not one way that works for everyone.

They set a goal to reach, but everyone can find their own way. How they learn, work, and how it's good for them.

To not just tell them that this is how we do it and if they can't do this, then it's your problem.


Carola von Szemerey: I work with different women and topics but I can give a short input. I had women that had lots of pain and struggles. After three months they stopped having pain. One woman told me she had menstrual pain for the last 10 years. Then it left. She figured out where it came from. I also supported women in finding a partner that actually fits them. It's something so important that a man is really aligned with a woman. You are not just together because of a need, but because you want to grow together and inspire each other.

I had women that were single for several years, I can't believe it, but I just found their man. It's small things. Same with the cycle or job situations, where they are just not happy. Then they have the courage to actually step out to something different. To go into a job that fits them much better. Or they get the courage to actually say something, which turns out not to be that bad.

It's a lot about the courage and transformation process. And to make the process rather smooth than dragging. They become aware of things and their needs. That's the key. That's actually something very simple. But it is difficult. Having the sisterhood, and women on the same path are really supportive. When you are in a group of friends, and you are the only one feeling something, then you feel like you are wrong. That makes it harder to change. Also because they know you in a certain way and you are expected to be somebody else, instead of being you. By connecting with other women that don't know you, you can just be who you are. Yourself. That's powerful.

Being in the sisterhood you can learn from each other. You see that there are lots of other women in the same situation, having the same issues. You can support each other on this path. Every woman is different, depending on her life situation and her challenges.


Carola von Szemerey: All women have cycles and connect all of us. It also connects us with nature. We are nature. I had a friend who called me mother nature. We are all women and mother nature. Everyone also has their own story, but we also go through similar stories. If we have a supportive community, that is aligned and not just to have concurrence. Sometimes women feel the need to be better and make it a competition. I don't know at what point in history that happened. I don't want to go too deep into this but it happened in history that women were taken away from circles and their communities. They were doing more of their own thing.

Back in the day, it was so obvious and natural. We were washing clothes together, doing art together, and we were living in communities birthing together. We were sharing and having these spaces where we could share what was happening. Nowadays you have your family, work, and home. You do meet people in certain situations, but you don't have sacred spaces to actually share what's happening in you. In a busy bar with loud music, you will not share how unhappy you are with your sex life. It needs to be a certain setting to allow these vulnerable topics. If we are able to share that, to fully share ourselves it creates a connection in a second.

Sometimes women that don't know each other, after chatting for two hours, feel like they have known each other forever. Life becomes easier when we know that women next to us also have this whole thing.

If we know our own uniqueness, we don't have to be in competition. I am unique, you are unique. We are just unique beings, we don't have to compete.

This is where I would like to make a parallel to learning environments. The traditional education system is not providing the importance of community. It's forgotten.

Neža Krek: It calls to create a learning community out of a group of complete strangers. That's when you can tap into the group wisdom and collective knowledge that is already there. That shifts from being a teacher teacher who needs to tell the truth to educate, towards having the humility of saying “I don't know everything and I'm okay with that. We will figure that out.”.

Carola von Szemerey: If I create these spaces people ask me what they should do. I always answer that I can't tell them. The teacher should be more of a guide. We can get all the knowledge we need on the internet. We don't necessarily need someone to teach.

Neža Krek: No, but I do believe that the teachers who have all of this knowledge that they accumulated through years, can contribute to the conversation with critical thinking. The critical questions that need to be asked in the field itself. That way students can see other ways to look at things. Because they don't have the life experience the teacher has. I think it's so important to really tap into wisdom instead of knowledge transfer. There are moments when you need to do the knowledge transfer. Totally fine and needed. However, it should be the predominant way of educating.


Carola von Szemerey: Yes there is a lot of fear. I had the fear of dying when I started to step more into this power. I thought I was crazy. In history, especially in Europe, they did a lot of witch-burning. Women that had superpowers or were considered witches were burned by the church. The church was mainly guided by men. That conditioning is everywhere. In order for men to be more powerful, they had to suppress women in different ways. There are many ways women were suppressed. They were taken away from communities, being a housewife, not able to give birth whenever they want, and not being able to be educated. There were many ways where the power of women was just taken away.

It's also a process for us women to understand these patterns. I could really see this in a relationship I had in Brazil. I was not fitting in, I was not doing what he wanted me to do. That got him so upset. Breaking out of this pattern is really hard. Of course the men are very happy in this situation because it's very comfortable for them how things are right now. If you step into your own power, you take responsibility for your life and who you are. You get out of a victim position.

You can always say that it's just the system or your husband or your family, your job whatever. You can give away your power easily. That stops you from taking responsibility for your own actions. If you fully embrace your power, you make yourself responsible for your misery, decisions, and actions. Doing that is challenging for many, especially if you did not grow up like that. I think that's why many are afraid of it.

It's also a process. Sometimes I still ask myself why am I doing this. It needs a lot of self-reflection and work to be able to cope with this. We didn't learn that. If you don't know how to handle this, it can be completely overwhelming. Men see women changing. They have been in this position for so long. They need to define their role again, and that's also scary. Because if we know our roles, it's easy, it's a comfort zone. The moment it changes, it's like a threat.

Neža Krek: Imagine a world where the education systems that you and I are co-creating and contributing to learning and wisdom that we are helping bring out in women and men that we are working with. Imagine this world becoming a reality. That women fully step into their powers.


Carola von Szemerey: I see a world where we take much more care of nature. We are not here to destroy our living base or just because of money. Or power or acknowledgments. The feminine energy both men and women have is nature. Since we have been neglecting this energy, we have been neglecting nature. Nobody is taking care of it. Men also have it, but we women have to do the first steps. That's a big responsibility. The moment we women go back to nature, if we connect, give back our menstrual blood to the earth. Which is another step. If we really connect our cycles, the men will follow.

Then we can make a big contribution to taking care of nature. We will have harmony in families because the two energies will be more balanced. Nowadays many women have strong masculine energy, and it's not really working out if you have two masculine energies. It doesn't matter if you are queer, trans, mixed genders, homosexual, etc. There will be balance again between the energies. Let's not call it men and women, but feminine and masculine energy. If women connect more with their feminine energy, it will open up space where men can actually show parts of themselves they cannot show now. They can become more vulnerable, and show emotions.

It will be like a cycle. It will be much more regenerative like in agriculture or economics. If we spread this energy into all of the different areas of life, it will not be destroyed anymore. Before we get our period, there is this moment of reflection. This energy comes in. Like when we think about what we're actually doing. We have this moment of questioning. It's a natural break that nature gives us.

Men don't have that, that's why they move faster. And women go a bit slower because they always have a natural break where they reset. We will also give much more value to things that are driven from the inside. Menstrual work is really a big contribution to world peace as well. If there's a space where people can actually take care of their emotions, and they are not being pushed down and pushed away. But having space for anger, sadness, etc. they're not going to be directed into areas that are not in the right direction.

If we really work with emotions, and we women have that naturally. If we evolve that in ourselves, we can also give space for men to do the same. And I have experienced that with men, and they started crying. They were in shock. Men have also been put in specific boxes. Men also have specific struggles.

Neža Krek: There's no more sexy thing than seeing your partner, and caring for your children the way you would love everybody. It's so it's sexy, it's attractive. It's beautiful. It's connecting, and it's something that I would like to see more of in the world.

Your book is about encouraging women to get to know their own inner nature, connecting to their intuition, and learning how to flow with their feminine and masculine energies, not only feminine. And how to create and manifest their lives from a purpose-connected space.

It's available in German, currently. And English and Portuguese are available on demand if people want to print them. But there's more isn't there?

Carola von Szemerey: I'm currently organizing all the different languages. I published a book two years ago in English, German, and Portuguese because I was very ambitious. Last year, I felt I needed to go slower and that I can't do it all by myself. I focused on the first book. There is also an online course that compromises the whole process and how to integrate it. It's not something you just read and it's done. You read it and are asked for action.

Most of my online work is in German. If someone is fluent in German you can go to my website:

I have the ook and materials in English as well, I just don't have the whole marketing and course it accompanies ready. I also do weekend workshops. So if someone has a group that would really like to dive into this work, you can just contact me. We print the number of books that are needed and I pass on all the knowledge in a weekend. Afterward, we will have an integration call to check how the process goes. I also do workshops for schools. That's what I can do in English.

In German, I decided to do it in an online format as well because I can reach more people. They can do it at their own speed at home. Ut workshops and retreats are a very beautiful thing to do because you can really be together and e a part of the sisterhood.

Neža Krek: Thank you so much for being here, I will make sure that our listeners have all the details to reach out and dive into this work. As we said, it's super important that this is incorporated into our daily lives and education. Hopefully, we can also learn from this conversation how to create trust, connection, communities, inner wisdom, and all of that beautiful stuff for the future.

Carola von Szemerey: It's also important that even though the world is sometimes very dark, with war and stuff, that we keep connecting with the positive vision. We have to keep going for it and believe that it is possible.

Neža Krek: I'm doing this podcast to enrich the experience teachers can have with their students. It's about inspiration. It's about enticing the ones that don't dare to do things differently to dare do things.

Because then the magic happens.

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