Self-Care During Transition

Nov 22, 2016

Self-Care During Transition |

I was sitting at coffee the other day with a lovely friend and colleague, collaborating on a workshop.  We were both enthusiastic about our collaboration, and simultaneously a little cautious about taking on another commitment.

We each shared that we were feeling a bit maxed out.  A bit overwhelmed, overburdened, maybe even a little bit burned out.

And she said something to me that I’ve been thinking about ever since:

“I wonder…if we were truly aligned, would we even need ‘self-care’?”

The women I coach with come to me with a whole plethora of life situations that they want support in navigating.

“I want to quit the job I resent.  I want to start a business / find a new job / travel the world.”

“I’ve been mothering non-stop for the last five years and I don’t know who I am or what I want anymore.”

“I feel like I’m living in someone else’s body, by someone else’s rules.  I want to be more authentic in my life.”

“I want something different for my life but I don’t know what it is.  I need clarity on my next steps.”

Inevitably, by the end of our first coaching session, we’ve put all the dreaming and scheming and goal-setting and website-building and plane-ticket-buying on the back burner.

Because usually, about half an hour into the session, it becomes obvious that the dreaming and scheming and goal-setting and website-building and plane-ticket-buying is all quite impossible feeling when you feel like you have no time.  When you can’t clear your head.  When you have no space.  When your cup is empty.

{GEEK OUT:  We know that when we are feeling depleted and stressed out, cortisol, the stress hormone, is surging through our body, trying to regulate us.  Too much cortisol over a long period of time is toxic to your sweet bod, creating an unsustainable situation in which your body is in “fight or flight” mode 24/7.  When that fight or flight mode is activated, all your blood and energy stores are redistributed to the areas of your body that will help you to escape the stressor, which, for our ancestors at least, means that energy is pulled away from, among other places, the frontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for higher-order thinking like…you got it…dreaming and scheming and goal-setting and website-building and plane-ticket-buying}

And so it seems that many of my coaching clients must return to their foundation – their self-care – before they can do anything to shift their life circumstances.

I think my dear friend was right, though.  When I think of my ideal day, one where I feel totally aligned, there is a healthy combination of work, play, industriousness, creativity, cerebral activity and physical activity.  At the end of my day I feel good, I am not choosing between work and sleep, and I generally feel well-cared-for.

You’ll note, this is not the self-care of women’s magazine fame:  this is not bubble baths and pedicures.  It’s simply getting your needs met, every single day.  It’s what I like to call resilient self-care, or, the stuff you really need, that nourishes you the most.


Times of transition – whether you’re birthing a business or birthing a baby, rediscovering your identity and what you want to do with your life or buying a round-the-world plane ticket, are times when women are seeking alignment.  Self-care may eventually become something that they don’t really think about anymore, when they’re not experiencing world-rocking transformation.

But for now, the foundation of transformation is self-care.

Because chances are, you’re seeking transformation because your cup is empty.

And because navigating a shifting life takes an enormous amount of courage, confidence, stamina and the ability to engage in big blue sky-thinking about your life and what you want for it.  It’s the stuff that only a healthy dose of self-care can provide.

It’s probably going to start with a deep breath.  And then another one.

With learning how to say no.

With sleep and movement and hydration.

With sisterhood, community, companionship.

And then – only then – you’ll be ready.


Are you ready?

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!