The Power of Struggle

Sep 15, 2015

The Power of Struggle |

Halfway up the scree field, I paused to take yet another break. My chest heaved in and out, my lungs sucking air. My mind drifts to the usual dialogue that sustains my ability to believe that I can do this, but that space in my mind has gone quiet: I am not entirely sure if I can go on. It’s an unusual feeling for me, and my hands automatically snap down to cradle the roundness of my stomach, below my navel, where, ever since I gave birth to my daughter and went back to work and carried on with life as a mother, I had been carrying thirty pounds of extra weight.

Somehow, being in the outdoors, challenging myself to pedal up hills, traverse mountain terrain, and surf pounding swell, had been replaced by the quieter, more child-friendly activities of darting out to yoga practice whenever I could catch a break, or wearing my baby on a walk around the neighbourhood; enough to break a sweat every so often, but not enough to maintain peak performance. And somewhere, in my struggle to find anything totally selfish, totally pleasurable, and completely my own as I parented my young one, I convinced myself that charging down a trail, testing my legs’ ability to carry me over roots and rocks, was not enjoyable, or necessary, or even possible given my commitment to mothering. And I guess, if I’m being honest, none of that stuff was as important to me anymore as it used to be.

As I resume climbing once more, stepping a little more slowly and deliberately this time, suppressing my pride and competitive spirit as a group of flip flop-clad hikers passes me, I realize that I am, indeed, hauling my overweight body up the face of this mountain. I am doing it. The process certainly does not look like I imagined it would, somewhere at the bottom of the hill with the sense that my body could perform the way it did pre-baby, but I am doing it. My inhalations and exhalations snap me into awareness, and I try to push away the thought processes that are attempting to galvanize me into a healthier way of living – once I get down this mountain – and just focus on how connected I feel to my body and my mind when I push both to do something that doesn’t come easily. I re-familiarize myself with what it means to listen to my body’s urging to step this way, to grab onto the rocks with my hands and scramble up, to take breaks. I get comfortable with acknowledging the defeatist thoughts that flit through my consciousness, allowing them to come and go and then digging into my self-compassion to find thoughts that encourage, strengthen and empower.

I made it up that mountain, and back down again. There were a few tears, and my legs were more ragged at the end of it all than they would have been five years ago. I had the opportunity to practice great patience and empathy with myself, because I had to. At the end of the day, even my softened, rounder body felt strong and capable, despite my struggles. And in that, I realized why I used to spend so much time charging up hills, hiking mountains and slicing through heavy surf. It wasn’t for the thrill of it, or the cardiovascular workout, the leg muscles, or the glory. It was for the power of being able to say “if I can do that, I can do…..”



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!