Better than love

Feb 13, 2018


Love Yourself.


These words are emblazoned across a pyjama shirt I bought recently.

I love it, and I hate it, and I would never wear it in public. 

I’ve been told, insistently, all too many times by friends and by sunbeam-lit Instagram posts, to love myself

(like a piece of clothing or someone else’s urgent command would magically imbue me with glowing self-adoration).

It makes me crazy.


I love the idea of self-love.


But to me, it all feels deeply intangible.  It feels like unicorns surfing rainbows.  It feels like something that’s more easily accessible to individuals whose privilege (be it whiteness, thinness, wealth, ability, or any multitude of other societally-valued circumstances) means that the world more readily loves them.

As you might know, I’ve been writing a book lately (if by lately I mean, over the last two years).  It’s about a path I’ve been taking to find some peace with the meat-self my soul has been loaned to navigate Planet Earth with, this time around.

One of the first experiences I had as I experimented with shifting these complex feelings involved a well-meaning friend urging me to love my body.  Like it was a no-brainer.

It made me feel like a failure.  Why couldn’t I see that my body had grown and nursed babies, climbed mountains, held the hands of the birthing and the dying, and was worthy of my unconditional love?

As my exploration brought me to delve into the body positivity and health at every size literature, I started to understand on a deeper level the concept of self-acceptance.

Not only that, I discovered a whole sub-culture of fat activists who posited that the concept of self-love was, in fact, a bit much to ask.  Absurd, even.  That self-respect and self-acceptance was, in fact, an exquisitely powerful place to land in ones’ relationship with oneself.


Self-acceptance, to me, is a verb.


I know how to do self-acceptance.  

Self-acceptance is that loving, maternal voice in my head – the Goddess of Self-Compassion – who says

“Honey, you yelled at your kids in the grocery store, and that’s okay.  You were feeling mad.  Feeling mad is okay.  Take a deep breath.”

She says

“You are fat.  You don’t feel beautiful today.  It’s hard to live in a body that’s different than what society finds acceptable.  It’s okay to feel sad about it.”


If self-love is unicorns surfing rainbows, self-acceptance is fucking fierce.


Self-acceptance shows up.  She shows up for me when I’m screaming into pillows or haven’t showered in a week just as readily as she shows up when I am wearing clean clothes and making crafts out of toilet paper rolls with my kids.

And in my experience, this whole finding alignment thing – this work that we’re all doing to reclaim our authenticity and live in a way that is true for us – actually starts with self-acceptance.

Because alignment isn’t always pretty, either.  Living in alignment means honouring the way we are, and not trying to shapeshift into someone who fits in, and can more easily navigate a world that doesn’t respect our uniqueness.  In action, choosing what feels aligned – choosing to meet your own needs before pandering to the demands of the overculture – is almost always the more difficult, more courageous…and more rewarding practice.

But it starts

where you are.

With exactly who you are.

In the gritty fierceness of acceptance.


Does this resonate with you?

The Becoming Podcast has been on a short hiatus while I focus on writing my book, but oh what a comeback episode I have for you!

This month, I spoke to Toko-pa Turner, who many of you may know as the unofficial patron saint of many of my circles and gatherings because of the sheer number of times I’ve quoted from the wisdom of her book, Belonging.

Toko-pa is a Canadian author, teacher, and dreamworker. Blending the mystical teachings of Sufism in which she was raised with a Jungian approach to dreams, she founded The Dream School in 2001, from which thousands of students have graduated. She is the author of the award-winning book, Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home, which explores the themes of exile and belonging through the lens of dreams, mythology, and nature. This book has resonated for readers worldwide, and has been translated into 10 different languages so far. Her work focuses on the relationship between psyche and nature, and how to follow our inner wisdom to meet with the social, psychological, and ecological challenges of our time.

Here’s some of what Toko-pa and I talk about in this episode:

> The dream that changed Toko-pa’s life, causing her to question her career and, ultimately, her identity

> How we can court our dreams to support us during times of radical transformation – and the reasons so many of us have a hard time remembering and working with what shows up in our dreamscape

> Toko-pa’s perspective on the message of Belonging after the divisiveness our society has experienced in the years since it was published

> What happened for both Toko-pa and I when we fell out of belonging from the ideologies of the “wellness world”

> How to build community when you’re under-resourced

> “The Big Lie” when it comes to belonging, and how we can reclaim a sense of belonging to the greater family of things, as Mary Oliver so famously wrote

Listen to the episode on iTunes


Show Notes

Toko-pa’s Website

Belonging:  Remembering Ourselves Home, Toko-pa’s book

The David Abram video about animism mentioned in the interview

Toko-pa’s self-guided program, Dream Drops

Companion, the program that accompanies Belonging


Also, while you’re at it, if you enjoy The Becoming Podcast, I would be so grateful if you would rate and review, and even subscribe to it on iTunes.  That goes a long way to helping more and more people find and benefit from hearing these interviews!  Thank you so much!