The darkness found us here

Mar 20, 2018


The sun was streaming through the windows, and the playlist was earthy but upbeat.


I was ready.

So, so ready.


The past few months have felt…sticky.


When I look at the moments that have made up this winter season, they have been filled with the soft embraces of my children, stolen moments spent stitching and working with yarn, and the careful tending to seeds and bulbs with cups of water and diligently applied measuring tapes to chart daily progress.

But also, a great deal of frustration and inertia.

I have had ideas that I can’t quite articulate, and a waning desire to rise early in the morning to put words to paper.  Failed efforts to roll out my yoga mat or walk the trail by my house have left my body feeling untended and stiff.  And I’ve been hard-pressed to seek stillness and curiosity in this space. I wish I could find stillness and curiosity, but mostly, I want out.  I’m ready for new energy.  Ready for Spring.

And so, when I greeted the women who attended my Spring Equinox circle this past weekend, it was with optimism for the bright season ahead, and a readiness for what comes next.

My opening question, I thought, was simple:  “thinking back on the past season, what are you grateful for, and what, as I used to say when I worked in the corporate realm, were your ‘areas for growth’?”

Though I think we all came to the circle for a jolt of bright-shininess

what arrived in the rush of still-cool air through the door




That is to say, the darkness found us here, too.


It reminded me of the first-ever women’s circle I held, two years ago – the one where I thought we were going to eat chocolate-covered strawberries and make vision boards.

Cute, right?

During that circle, I inadvertently sought the darkness.  A spur-of-the-moment decision to ask the attendees what they’d like to release from the year previous before making their vision boards brought in a fiery intensity of emotion that swept me well into what felt, at the time, to be uncharted territory in my ability to hold space.


I shouldn’t have been surprised, as the sun lit all of our tear-streaked faces on Sunday, that we showed up as whole humans, together.


We talked about how even though the shadowy parts of ourselves feel uncomfortable, the inauthenticity of not allowing the shadow to come with the light felt worse.

But.  We live in a digital world curated to show only the good bits.  We even try to make our ugly bits look pretty with nice images or a nugget of wisdom tied up in a bow and offered blithely to the masses (guilty, as charged).  And we receive praise for it.

Though we have, as a species, adapted a negativity bias, we also live in a world where positive psychology is preached and practiced without nuance and space for complexity, where putting on a brave face or not being a bother or not being a downer is more socially acceptable than just…I don’t know….showing up.  As we are.


And so we reached for the box of Kleenex and passed it around, and for a few minutes, there were apologies.  For not being shiny.


But what I saw was courage.


Because showing up gritty and imperfect

and showing up without asking for pity or seeking validation

but just showing up


asking only for the space to be held for that authenticity

takes tremendous bravery.


But I do forget, sometimes,

that we cannot only and always be light

and that even though the darkness follows us

it is there for us

and it is a part of what it means to be a whole human.

And I think my practice is to keep remembering that, both for myself, and for others.

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!