Transformation’s Origin Story: what a catalyzing moment is, and what to do if you’re in one

Jul 12, 2022


Almost every rite of passage or radical transformation begins with a catalyzing moment or collection of moments that begin a chain reaction of awareness, awakening, and becoming.


There were two catalyzing moments that I can distinctly remember that set me on the path that brought me here, writing this to you.

The first was the day that I write about here, in the early weeks of my return to work after having my first baby.  She did not take kindly to being cared for by anyone other than me, and our morning drop-offs were fraught with tears – both mine and hers.  I was driving home from another day of soul-sucking meetings-for-the-sake-of-meetings when I heard this song, and it galvanized me to make the decision to leave my job so that I could spend more time with my kid.

That process took a number of years, which brings me to the second catalyzing moment.  I was walking my now-two kids home from a very full day of daycare, shouting over the noise of 6 lanes of traffic to ask them how their day was.  My business was a baby then, too – about a year old – and the thought of replacing my corporate income so that I could quit felt impossible.  In that moment I realized:  we need to move. I don’t want to raise my kids in the city.  My next thought:  if we downsized significantly from our luxe home in the burbs, I might be able to leave my job without having a way to magic up an equivalent salary in my brand new, just-figuring-out-what-it-was business.  I looked down at the dimples smoothing out and slowly disappearing on my childrens’ hands and realized there was no time to wait.


As you’re reading about these moments in my life, it’s important to remember:

catalysts are clearest in the rear view mirror.


In the moment, they feel somewhere on the spectrum between awe-inspiring, baffling and shit-awful.


If you feel like you’re in one of those moments that might draw a line between life-before and life-after, here’s how you can support yourself:


🦋 Stay here.

The temptation to get on the other side of this, to move on – or get back to the way things used to be – will flirt voraciously with you. Find a way to stay in the not-knowing-what’s-next.

Here’s what I find helps most…


🦋 Metabolize.

As the ground rumbles beneath your feet, create some s-p-a-c-e to process and make meaning of what’s happening. Write morning pages, go for long walks, take up contemplative knitting or engage skilled witnesses such as a coach, counsellor or friend.


🦋 Grow your roots.

Your foundation. Your cocoon. The structures that will hold you steady during metamorphosis. Create ritual; learn to tend to your needs; find a way to communicate with your body and the earth, asking both for wisdom and tending each in return; become fluent in the dialect of your own inner knowing; make something with your hands or your heart, and ask for help. 


Also, I really want to say this:  we are going through a collective catalyzing moment right now.  

My guess is that almost all of us will look back on these times and say that they changed us; that they changed something for us.

And so it is that you are not alone.


May you find, in this fiery crucible of transformation, even more of what it takes to be fully you.

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!