Unpainted Toenails, and Other Liberations

May 1, 2018


The work that I do with women as a coach (and often as a doula, too) is about supporting them to untangle themselves from the expectations, roles, responsibilities, personas, preferences, and models of success that they have either consciously or unconsciously adopted

to stay safe, loved, accepted, and thriving in a world

that really likes to tell women How To Be.


I support women to

get quiet enough to hear themselves again

and actually heal the internal and external narratives that are keeping them from living in greater alignment and with more authenticity 

(rather than beating them into submission with Accountability Measures, To Do Lists, behaviour modification or Fancy Wordplay).

Sometimes this work is really big.  Sometimes it catalyzes career changes, marriages, divorces, babymaking, or radical body acceptance.

But sometimes…

sometimes the unravelling we have to do is small.


(or at least, we can start there)


Finding alignment is a daily practice

of learning, accepting and vocalizing what’s true for you.


I have found this to be the case in my own life:

I felt a strangely poignant liberation when I realized that I didn’t actually enjoy the pedicures I was getting as “self-care.”  Choosing to replace the thirty seconds of blissful foot massage bookended by scraping, tickling and digging with something I enjoyed more left me lightheaded with a sense of possibility.

Maybe the underwire bras that dug painfully into my armpits would be next.

And the cocktails and glasses of wine that made me break out into hives.

Though I would sometimes have to explain my choices, or not “fit in” to certain social situations or identifications, being a pedicure-renouncing, sports bra-wearing teetotaller has served me well.

It’s not entirely a petulant “I’ll do it my way” kind of thing, rather, it feels like I’ve got my own back, in a sense.

Even in these tiny choices, I can choose, every day, to be a little bit more me.


I wonder what you would choose to do differently, what you would opt out of or into, if you gave yourself full permission?

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!