The Power of Beauty

Feb 23, 2016

 The Power of Beauty |


My coworker meticulously arranges vegetables on a platter in a mandala of crudites before whipping over to where I am setting tables, wordlessly readjusting the position of the forks I’ve just laid, and tsk-tsking about the slightly wrinkly tablecloth I’ve deemed perfectly acceptable to spread on the tabletop.

I find her attention to detail – to the appearance of things – as we prepare to feed a large group of low-income patrons of the community resource centre where we work – annoying. The pragmatist in me can’t see the point of tablecloths that will just get dirty, or why the raw carrots and celery couldn’t just be heaped in a bowl.

I’ve never been overly concerned about the outward appearances of things that are perfectly functional without the additional je ne sais quoi, I suppose. When I started out as a food blogger, it took me an inordinately long time to come around to the idea that I needed to “style” the food in my photos to make it look more appealing – that a sloppy hunk of brownie actually didn’t look as delicious as its more neatly squared-off counterpart.

I was equally skeptical when taking my Sacred Pregnancy Retreat Instructor training, during which I was introduced to a fundamental edict of the Sacred Pregnancy movement, called the “beauty way.” The idea of the “beauty way” was to try to find the beauty in all things, and celebrate it; magnify it. To make every aspect of our lives beautiful.

I was really challenged by this idea: to me, the notion of making something beautiful was frivolous if it were already functional. It’s not to say that I didn’t deeply relish the blaze of a hot orange sunset, a bloom in my garden, or an exquisitely glazed ceramic mug for my tea. But I found it unnecessary to expend extra effort and worry to add beauty to things that worked just fine the way they were.

But something struck me along the way – something that I had overlooked while sighing heavily as my co-worker polished the cutlery.

Beauty makes the ordinary extraordinary.


When serving dinner to folks whose lives are defined by struggle, a carefully laid out platter of vegetables has the mysterious power of making them feel special, and cared for – like they were worth the time it took to make the broccoli look “just so.”

Society has defined beauty as something that’s for special occasions, and for special people.


And it was upon understanding this that I realized that adding the extra flourish that it takes to make aspects of others’ lives beautiful – extraordinary – is actually a form of service to those we love. It makes them feel special, revered, and valued. Perhaps, by overcoming my skepticism about beauty, I discovered an incredibly powerful way to show others that I care.

Your turn:


How can you make your life, or someone else’s, more beautiful today?


How do you feel about beauty?

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!