I am normal I am normal I am normal

Jun 27, 2017

I’ve been feeling a little more free lately.


Why, you wonder?

Because I’ve decided I’m normal.


I, like so many others in our current culture, have pathologized myself all too much.

My inclinations, my quirks, my preferences

all taken a little too seriously, sometimes.

Google will tell me the precise name of the ailment I am suffering when I ask it what’s up when I worry too much, or have a flutter in my chest, or an irrational craving for bagels, or when I have a dream about falling, or am tired, sore, uncertain, afraid, apathetic, hungry, not hungry….the list goes on.


I’ve spent all too long thinking I have adrenal fatigue, or unresolved issues from my childhood, or a yeast imbalance, or vicarious trauma, or *inflammation.*

and it’s not lost on me that I’ve been made to feel this way largely by an industry of people who are ready and willing to have me hire them to help me fix myself.


And then one day, a little while ago, I wondered:

“What if I am normal?”


I know that “normal” is a fraught word in and of itself, but I don’t want to demonize it here, because at its heart it’s the feeling of being validated, and the feeling that comes with the idea that others might be going through something similar.  Normal isn’t one way of being, per se, but a spectrum.  And I think we can all agree that it feels kind of good to believe that our way of being in the world fits on a spectrum of normal.

I see this every day in my work.  When women ask me if it’s normal to grieve the loss of their former selves when making a big life transition, or when they ask me if it’s normal to take some time to adjust to motherhood.  And when I say “yes, my love, it’s normal,” I see their shoulders drop and I hear their sighs of relief.  It’s permission to stop Googling, to stop feeling guilty and broken, and to just get on with living.


I don’t want to deny, of course, that some folks have experiences, conditions or ways of being that may fall under a spectrum of, for lack of a less clinical-sounding way of saying it, pathology.  Things that don’t feel good and that require support to navigate.


But I want to offer that perhaps many of us are actually normal.  Perhaps all of us, to some degree.


And I want to offer permission to just not listen to people who make you feel like you’re not normal.  Who make you feel like you’re broken or less-than or sick.


When I asked myself “Am I normal?” I thought about some of the areas of my life that I had become expert at pathologizing, and rather than listening to the external noise that was telling me I needed to fix these areas of my life, I listened to myself.

I asked myself:

“Does this way of being feel okay to me?  Does it feel good?”

“Does this way of being cause conflict or strife in my life or others?”

Has this way of being felt difficult to shift?  Is it possible that it is just the way I am, and that that’s why it’s been so difficult to change?”

How would it feel to stop trying to fix this aspect of my life?”


Can I give you a hint?

It feels so, so freeing.

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!