Tending the home fires

Mar 6, 2018

I’ve been spending a lot of time tending the fire, lately.


(both literally and figuratively)


On a good day, my two-year-old will occupy himself with a puzzle or some play-dough, and I pad softly down into our dark basement, feeling the heat of the smouldering coals prickle my skin as I descend.  I take a quick mental note as I make my way across the room:  the floor needs sweeping; the next daffodil bulbs are ready to be brought into sunlight.  Opening the heavy wood stove latch, a rush of heat stings my eyes momentarily, and I push the embers around with a wrought-iron tool.  I choose a few logs from our wood pile and push them into the fire, and, if my son is still happy upstairs, I sit cross-legged in front of the open stove, feeling the heat on my belly, waiting for the new logs to light.

I water the houseplants and check on the one that the kids and I have recently treated with a homemade pest-control after finding a colony of mealyworms.

I set out bread dough to rise, and help the kids make play dough.

I make cups of tea, break up squabbles, do school pick-up, flip through seed catalogues, and contemplate the merits of backyard chickens.

I still feel anxious, more often than I’d like, that my paid work – my coaching calls and breastfeeding support visits and writing and social media posts – feels neglected or pushed to the edges of the day as I tend to my family’s needs.


But my conditioning is deep.  And so I have patience.



If I had told my twenty-five-year-old self that this is how I would spend my days at thirty-six

(and also that I wouldn’t feel like a total failure for doing so

and in fact that I would feel deeply in alignment as a result)

she wouldn’t have believed me.


Maybe the idea of spending your days like this – and being okay with it – is making you edgy too.


We’re deeply conditioned to believe that we do not have value unless we are doing.

That our place in in the world is contingent on our productivity.

We are conditioned to believe that the most valuable members of society are the ones that can do.

Many of us have deeply-held values the centre on “making a difference” or “changing the world.”

(more on that later, I promise…so much more)

We as women have had the way paved for us by our foremothers, who learned to navigate this world of doing over being by fighting for equality in the workforce.  We have come to identify ourselves by our careers, first and foremost.

(I’m gulping now, as I prepare to write something that I know will not go down easy…)

But by fighting for equality, we’ve been fighting for the right to be treated like men.


We’ve been fighting to become complicit in the male hegemonic doctrine that got us here


Here:  hovered over our inboxes on Saturday morning, investing categorically fewer dollars in female-led caregiving professions, anxiety-ridden, not enough time, not enough money, not enough.

We’ve been fighting for the denial of our own authentic ways of being.


(pause here for much-needed clarity:  I talk about men and women, here, as a mashup of the archetypical and the actual, with the knowledge that not all women identify with feminine ways of being, and also with the knowledge that this identification may be authentic to them, or a result of bone-deep social conditioning.  I know what this means for me, but not for you, and I implore you to explore it for yourself if you’re finding this concept prickly)


What I would like to tell my twenty-five-year-old self is this:


Each log I put on the fire

Each word I teach my children

Each mother I support in the art of nurturance

Each woman I coach to find her voice and claim her power and connect with her wild feminine

Each loaf of bread

Each newly-germinated seed

Is a radical act.


My tending is a vote for the kind of world I want to live in

and a stand against a world that would deny the value of my work, my gender, my childbearing, my intuition, my wildness.

My tending is my power.


And I am claiming it.

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!