Into the Woods I Go, To Find Myself + Lose My Soul

Apr 16, 2019


The year I was sixteen,


on a hot summer’s day


I was initiated


into my body

into possibility

into courage

anointed by a raging wall of white water, kissed ever-so-lightly by my own mortality.


I was changed.


The person I thought I was – a quiet, bookish, girl who loved listening to feminist folk music – was left swirling in the eddies of the Ottawa River, where I went whitewater rafting for the first time.  She was still with me, in some way, but she was also more.  She was capable.  Capable of surviving the most ferocious elements; arms paddling hard, eyes wide and knees tucked as I was tossed down the river.

She was brave.

She was fierce.

She could do just about fucking anything.


That day on the river was a rite of passage for me and my relationship with my body and with the earth, although I didn’t know it at the time.

But the knowledge that I had the courage to face that powerful white water,

that my body had the wisdom to wind its way down the river,

alchemized into a belief that I could do something like that

– something brave, something challenging, something I thought I couldn’t do –

again and again and again.


And so,

on that river

my confidence was birthed


as was a woman who sought evidence of that confidence

over and over again

on mountains and across oceans


until it ran through her veins.



But little did I know,

my initiation

– by earth and water, sky and tree –

– into the woman I was and would come to be –

had already begun, in a quieter, softer way.


It was born, if I remember right, on the banks of the river that edged the town where I grew up

on a rock where I perched and noticed, for the first time, that my eyes were the same colour as the water rushing past,

and I saw my own beauty.


It flourished on the long walks I took

in a giant park in the coastal town to which I fled as soon as I was old enough to be able

the place where I went looking for home again – and found it in the way the sunlight sparkled off of navyblue waters – when I felt unsteady and unsure in my newfound independence.


The trees and the ocean were my home again

when I traversed that other rite of passage many women do

and it was with my baby’s breath condensing on my chest, my lips brushing her gossamer hair and my hands reverently touching her small toes, peeking out of the carrier

that I began to make sense of who I was

as woman

and mother.


Though I have had many homes


it is here

in on under with between betwixt

the earth


that I know I am always home.




it is here

in relationship with 

– sand, snow, sparkle, heron, branch, wind –

that I have found myself

over and over again.


And in a world that seems hell-bent on pulling me – all of us, really – away


seeking beauty and success and fulfillment and answers


everywhere else


Showing us, over and over again

that we are not good enough not pretty enough not thin enough not rich enough not popular enough not enough not enough not enough not enough


there is always abundance.  Death always becomes life again, and life is sure to be recycled too, and there are no mirrors, out here, but just the way rushing water feels on tired feet and the way sunshine changes everything.


And that, to me


feels like a revolution:  a place where me and All The Women can find our bodies and our hearts and our bare feet again


the Mother


the Earth.


How have you found yourself, your strength and your confidence in relationship with the Earth?  I would love to tuck stories into my back pocket of the myriad ways women have found power and peace and confidence and courage in the wild.

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!