Bethany Toews is a Wonder Woman.
Writer, photographer, hair dresser and heart healer, Bethany Toews is one of those rare women who traverse the world heart in hand, words on paper; strength and beauty emanating from every interaction.
Guiding her clients through heart ache and heart break, Bethany is also a wordsmith, photo taker and adventure maker. In this photo series, Bethany wears our Green Metallic Blessed ballet flat, Dharma Lucky Seven Tassel and Dharma Elevated in Gold as she makes magic in her transient LA home.
Words by Alex Birch, Images by Bethany Toews
Bethany wears our Dharma Red Lucky Seven Tassel
Can you tell us about The Empathetic Heart? What drew you to the idea of healing and hearing hearts?
I wouldn’t say it was something I was drawn to, I’d say it is simply something I’ve always done. Like seeing or breathing, simply another sense. But it’s taken me a long time to claim that sense, to trust it and to offer it up in some official form. How many times do you have to hear something until you actually listen? My whole life I have felt certain things about myself which were confirmed over and over again. I could see into people, help them see into themselves. Some mystical form of X-ray vision in the form of a very alive sensitivity. Sure, it has also gotten me into trouble enough times. My observations have been met with plenty of resistance, resentment even. My delivery hasn’t always been as graceful as I would have liked. I have been learning over time how to inspire such diving rather than forcing someone into depths they aren’t ready to explore. I may see something that isn’t my place to reflect, not to mention that I’m still just a human with my fair share of flaws, my own need of healing. I make many mistakes. I am still learning. I will always be learning. But wow, working with clients who are wanting that type of support, who want to look inside—it has been such a beautiful and powerful experience. And the best part of healing work is that it works both ways. Your healing is my healing is your healing.
Bethany wears our Dharma Elevated in Gold
Your blog is full of heart and humanity. You write personal yet extraordinarily relatable stories of love and insecurity and the journey to find oneself. What draws you to these themes? What compels you to write?
Thank you, that’s lovely to hear. What compels me to write is exactly that, that journey to find oneself. My words reveal things to me. I can be lying awake at night, head spinning, unable to find a resting place in my mind. And then if I get up and start writing, I find my way there. To my center. To my own knowing. We all have such a deep knowing, but plenty gets in the way. Lots and lots of opinions and feelings and outside influences that we have to clear away to find what is our own. Writing is my way of sitting down to listen for my own voice. I have been writing most of my life and am still constantly amazed at the things that come out when I sit down with the page. A loving excavation. A ritual of truth. It’s hard being a human and yet we have all these amazing tools to make it possible not only to find some sort of peace in ourselves, but to share that revelation with others and hopefully offer some peace in the process. A big reason I write is because I read and in doing so have found just the words I’ve needed to return me to myself. Someone else’s words that helped me feel less alone in my struggles. Someone else’s experience articulated in a way which helped me connect to this gorgeous shared experience we are all having. I think ultimately, I write to feel less alone. And I share in the hopes of helping others feel the same.
You recently took a trip to Cape Town. Can you tell us about the experience?
I’m still processing it. It was such an epic journey. Getting there alone. Nearly 40 hours spent in 4 airports on 2 separate continents in 2 different hemispheres. Moving through several different time zones. The body confused, the mind following suit. I love the surrealism that accompanies this type of travel. This sort of sustained hypnogogic state. Everything takes on a dreamlike quality and you move through your waking life with a fluidity that is often stamped out by the routine of normal daily life. I find myself more open, more flexible, more curious. Despite the extreme exhaustion from jet lag, I’m somehow more aware. Whenever I travel I mostly just walk all around whatever new place I find myself in. Seeing the world by foot it one of my passions. The pacing of it. The self-sufficiency of it. I often wander somewhat aimlessly without much of an agenda at all. Just the goal of a good cup of coffee, a new view, a friendly encounter or two. I look for all the unique aspects of the place while cataloguing all the undeniable similarities that turn the world further explored into one big picture of the same basic needs. Humans are humans no matter where you go and I take such comfort in that. While in Cape Town I found myself thinking often of my childhood growing up in rural Middle America. Such contrast. Such distance separating these places. And yet, things remembered I had forgotten from my own shore, re-discovered on this foreign shore. Cape Town is a complex and beautiful place, I don’t feel ready yet to speak specifically to it. I’ll just say I had a really lovely time getting to know her and myself more in the process.
You recently shot our Blessed slip-on, Dharma Elevated and Dharma Lucky Seven styles. Could you talk us through the creative concept behind the images?
I am currently in a weird place. No weirder I suppose than any other place, but by the typical Western standards of “having your shit together”, I am in a less than established/looks good on paper sort of place. I am currently sleeping on a borrowed air mattress in someone else’s half-empty apartment. During the day, random strangers come in to buy pieces of the furniture. Slowly the place is emptying of the previous tenants belongings. It’s a client of mine’s apartment. She recently got married and moved in with her husband, but the lease isn’t up for another 2 months, so she very generously offered it to me as I am in-between places. Los Angeles has gotten incredibly expensive over the past couple of years and my free-flowing lifestyle has become harder to manage here. But I love this place, so I stay, and keep making it work.
Bethany wears our Dharma Red Lucky Seven Tassel
At first when this woman offered, I hesitated—the fear of being at the mercy of someone else’s altruism. I am still learning how to graciously receive. Just beginning to really understand that giving requires a recipient and because giving is good, it is good to receive. I kind of feel like that’s what these past couple of years have really been about for me, learning to accept help and support. I gave up a beautiful home 2 years ago when I left a 6-year relationship and headed out on what has continued to be an adventure. I have slept on a lot of air mattresses and couches and hotel beds. I have been searching for a home to settle in, it just hasn’t shown up yet. I am using this time to learn a lot about uncertainty. I am practicing grace in undefined space.
I have been in this apartment for a couple of weeks now, creating my own little rituals and routines. Knowing I will leave soon but wanting to honor the present nonetheless. I plug in my pink Himalayan salt lamp because I love its glow. I place my magical stones all around the place because I believe in their magic. I put the quilt my grandmother made on the air mattress to wrap up in at night. It has swatches from my mother’s wedding dress, and father’s suit, and baby clothes my grandmother made for us. I have pretty much everything else I own tucked away in one closet.
Featuring our Blessed ballet flat in Green Metallic
I woke up this morning and caught a glimpse of myself. Puffy face still waking up. Holey white linen t-shirt. Soft cotton panties hugging my bum. And I thought, “This. Document this. This moment. This place. You in it.” So I just started shooting. My tripod is in a box in someone’s garage at the moment (it really would have come in handy, haha), so I was balancing the camera on all manner of things. I was having a great time with it, laughing at myself, loving myself. This is me, where I am now, and I think it’s great. Life is great. Moving through it in the endless myriad of ways one can. Showing up. Accepting and giving thanks.
What are three things you always say ‘yes’ to?