Mourning Dove

mourning dove painting by Katariina Fagering

“be wise as a snake and gentle as a dove” Matt 10:16

Mourning Dove

After all this time 
She still finds me
No matter where I wander
or land
She wakes me with 
Her melancholic coo
Singing to her lover
Calling him home, 
“This is your home” she sings
“Beside me.”
After all is sung
She builds a nest 
in the cavity of my breast
Calling me home
My home – within me.

Sometimes when I’m in the midst of an intense experience, I can’t really write about it just yet. I usually need to give it some room and space.

I wrote this poem back in April while sitting out in my front yard listening to the mourning doves coo. I have a few more poems and paintings I will be sharing over these next few days leading up to my bilateral mastectomy, June 12th.

I feel so held and safe on this journey. I’ve come to the understanding that this cancer is just another experience I’m having – not much different from Officer Candidate School (twice), childbirth (twice), going to war (twice) – all of these involved pain and suffering but amazing gifts as well.

Since my diagnosis I’ve received an outpouring of love and support. More importantly, I’ve gained a deeper sense of belonging in this life that I struggled with before. My PTSD and my depression got in the way of me seeing all the joy and gifts surrounding me. My belonging in this life and in this world alluded me for so many years. Today, it’s as if the veil has lifted and I see my place, my value and my love (all of my loves).

I will write more about this tomorrow.

Much Love,





Ducts Are for Milk Not Cancer

Saturn Returns by Katariina Fagering

It’s a crazy thing to become one of the 10 percent that actually get breast cancer. The one friend in ten who is diagnosed. When I got the call from the radiology office to come back in for further pictures of my right breast, I didn’t give it a lot of energy or thought.

Whale Story by Katariina Fagering

Today three weeks later after three biopsies all testing positive for cancer, I am pondering what life will be like without my breasts. Of course, there will be new ones where mine once were and it will be my skin but they won’t be mine. They won’t have the feel of natural tissue; there will be scars and my nipples won’t respond to different temperatures or sensations. My nipples will be stuck in whatever permanent position I decide to reconstruct them into. That’s hard for me to wrap my head around.

Creature Within  by Katariina Fagering

Loosing my breasts sounds so extreme but I’m actually getting off pretty easy as far as cancer goes. Mine is noninvasive and I caught it early enough that it’s treatable without chemo or radiation. It’s called Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS). There are these tiny calcifications within my milk ducts that haven’t found their way out. I could hold off and see what the calcifications do; but once the cancer finds its way to my lymph nodes then it’s not so simple as just removing my breasts.

breast cancer by Katariina Fagering

Some days I wake up enlivened with lists of actions I can take to get healthier, stay grounded and find healing. Other days I feel the pull to dive deeper by asking the questions, “What is wanting to be loved? What is wanting to be heard? What is wanting to be seen?” These queries take me below the surface into a place that cracks me open to parts of myself I haven’t visited or explored ever!!

Emerging from the Womb  by Katariina Fagering


My creativity has opened up in a way I can’t explain. I am not sure where these paintings came from, I’m just listening and asking over and over again, “What wants to be heard? What wants to be seen?”

Woman within offering by Katariina FageringThese paintings and who shows up within them comforts me. I truly know that this diagnosis and this journey is an opportunity to widen and awaken my awareness of who I am and to ground my entire being into truly seeing my authentic purpose for showing up for this life.

Discovering I have cancer has proven to be a wild ride and I wonder why it is that it takes death to bring us closer to truly living our life?


Mr. M Responds Eloquently (Part 2)

Mr. M responded to my blog yesterday as I had hoped. Tears of relief and gratitude fell down my cheeks as I read his email. He not only got my message but was able to hear my heart and respond so graciously and eloquently.

Some of you suggested that he was “evil” but I knew better and it was never my intention to lash out at him, I just wanted to get his attention and share my heart. Turns out he is actually a gentlemen. You can see for yourself.

Thank you for your post and I congratulate you on the way you express and write.  I have decided that after all this I don’t intent to unsubscribe and would like for you to post that this “cyber bully” and clone of Kevin Spacey’s character in House of Cards has seen the light.
We republican lobbyists can also make mistakes and let our emotions take the best of us.  I offer my deepest apologies for the unacceptable way I expressed my feelings and frustration and for the way I affected your writing and creative flow.
Finally, this last post from you made me realize how people’s words can impact the soul and essence of others.  I hope you forgive me and share this post.
Let me know your thoughts!
Your “cyber bully”

I am grateful for this opportunity to dispel my fears and reluctance to write from my heart. This past year has been a doozy and continues along that track, I have so much to write about and now the veil has been lifted and there is no need for fear or trepidation on my side.

As I write this a Stellar’s Jay just landed on our hot tub looking all regal with a charcoal head and blue body. Stellar’s Jays are so wise they carry the truth of the heart and clarity of thought. Sometimes because of their wit, intellect and spiritual knowing. They have strong communication abilities but often with a sharp jab. They would do well to exercise judgement, care and diplomacy. In other words not succumb to being a bully. Have you ever seen a Blue Jay squawk at other birds around a bird feeder and watch them all fly away? They ask us to be honest, forthright and take action. I can think of more than a few times I’ve been accused of being a bully; perhaps my Mr. M is merely the outward personification of my own inner bully – rather than the other way around.

Thank you Mr. M for your generous response and heart felt honesty. You totally made my year!

Much Love,


Dear Mr. M (Part 1)

Dear Mr. M,

I have read and responded to every comment you have written to me following every post I’ve posted over the past year. I understand you are frustrated and no longer want to receive my blog posts and since you aren’t receiving my email responses I decided to write to you here.

I’m writing this to ask you to please unsubscribe yourself (scroll to the bottom for instructions). I have attempted to let you know countless times that YOU are the only one who can unsubscribe yourself from my blog. This is WordPress’ policy – not mine. I would gladly do it if I could.

Your comments are aggressive, angry and threatening:

Get me out of this damn blog you sent or I’ll report you to WordPress”  

I’m going to be posting things on the Internet about you and the invasion of privacy by sending your crap to me even though I have repeatedly told you to remove me.”

While these comments may seem innocuous especially considering I am a retired Marine Corps officer and should be able to easily ignore their aggressive tone, I can’t. I recently realized that you are my cyber bully and like cancer your voice has spread into my own inner world. For the past year whenever I sit down to write a blog I hear your snarky, angry words and I stop writing. My inner cyber bully has morphed into Kevin Spacey in House of Cards.

The words that I share are my own inner thoughts and ideas and being able to write them freely is what keeps me healthy and alive. It’s an extremely vulnerable act to share your heart and soul in a public forum. I didn’t invite you to my blog, you subscribed yourself, so please do us both a favor and follow the directions I pasted below to unsubscribe yourself.

I realize that whether you actually read the content of this blog post and follow the simple steps is not in my court. This is merely a last-ditch effort to alleviate the suffering on both sides.

What is in my court, however, is to figure out how I attracted this sticky booger that I can’t seem to flick off. What is wanting to be loved in this situation? What part of me is wanting to be heard? What inside me is angry, rude and frustrated? If I can open to these questions and listen with compassion perhaps the booger will melt away easily and effortlessly.

I want to evict you from my inner world and tell you the threat of your words showing up within a minute (every time) of my posting will no longer keep me from blogging; but now I see that I evicting you will never work. What’s needed is for me to open to the scary, mean, icky parts inside me.

I mean you no harm Mr. M, and I feel your frustration so please unsubscribe yourself. Here are the instructions Wordpress sent me:

To be removed from Gypsy Love Cafe Blog,  follow these instructions —
1/ The next time you receive an email notification from my blog, open it and scroll to the bottom of the post where you will find this message: “Unsubscribe or change your email settings at Manage Subscriptions.”
2/ If your Internet browser is not open, open it.
3/ Click on the hyperlinked words “Manage Subscriptions”. This will open a page in your browser that contains your email settings for my blog.
4/ Find my blog name “Gypsy Love Cafe” on this page and point your mouse cursor at it
5/ The word “unfollow” will appear immediately below the blog name, Click on “unfollow”.
That’s it. You should not receive any more email notices from my blog.


Here is an email from WordPress with more information:

Hi Katariina,

Unfortunately, we don’t remove subscribers from blogs, as it is an opt in process for a user to follow a blog. Subscribers are ultimately responsible for removing themselves. Continue to let this user know that there is a ‘manage subscriptions link’ in the email, and mark comments from the user as spam. If the user becomes inappropriate and you believe he is violating our terms of service, (threats, rude language, etc.) please submit a link to the abusive comment via our Abuse reporting page.

Please let me know if you have any other questions!

Cheers, Erin




i’m teaching in oxford! (Cancelled due to Breast Cancer)

St. Margaret's church photo by Katariina Fagering

I’m thrilled to share that I will be teaching a workshop in Oxford, England next August for Call of the Wild Soul art retreats.

Serendipity or Intention?

It was just last October that I wandered over and around Port Meadow in Oxford pondering the significance of great writers such as Lewis Carroll, JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, all creating brilliant epic novels on this small patch of land.

journal square photo by Katariina Fagering

As I wandered the meadow and meandered up the river Isis towards Godstow Nunnery (ruins filled with mystery and intrigue), I imagined what it would be like to have a gathering of creative women sitting on the very land that inspired so many fantastical worlds.

* What magic would come of it? *

* What worlds would we create? *

* How might we be transformed? *

tree tents by Katariina Fagering

Some say this land is a portal to higher creative energies. I’m not sure about this but I do know there is an exorbitant amount of prolific writers to come out of one tiny city and I am curious to discovery if it has anything to do with the land.

I believe that when women gather, listen and share their stories it creates medicine for the soul.  What would happen if a group of creative women gathered in a place where the energy appears to be in the favor of literary creativity? What sort of stories would be conceived out of this concoction of earth and women? What creative collaborations could be forged?

godstow love photo by Erin Faith Allen

Although I had flirted with the idea of teaching a workshop in Oxford, I had no serious plans. Then Erin called to announce she was putting together a retreat in Oxford and asked if I would like to teach one of the workshops. I was nearly knocked over but knew this is how the Universe works.

Sacred Stories is what I’m calling my workshop.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou

This workshop is designed as part creative writing, and part creative photography; but those mediums are merely tools to discover the real juiciness that is waiting dormant within.

Laura altar4 photo by Katariina Fagering

I will share more of the juicy details as they unfold, but I hope in the meantime you will pop on over to the retreat site and read what it’s about. From there you can check out the other luscious women teaching different sorts of creative workshops at the retreat. If I wasn’t teaching I would have a hard time choosing which workshop – they are all pretty amazing!

Come join us for the magic, I guarantee your life will never be the same!

St Margaret's treacle well photo by Katariina Fagering

Lewis Carroll’s Treacle Well


feathers5 by Katariina Fagering

What is it that makes me always gather feathers? 

Perhaps they serve as a testament of a life lived closer to the edge,

where it is raw and real

and there is no feeling sorry for one’s self.

Her heart may have stopped beating

but a story of a graceful, tenacious way of existing

lives on in her feathers.

What remains is

imperfection & impermanence

~ a rich and aromatic life.

three feathers by Katariina Fagering

orange feather2 by Katariina Fagering

three feathers 3 by Katariina Fagering

wispy feather by Katariina Fagering

three feathers blurred by Katariina Fagering

clump of feathers by Katariina Fagering

feather haze by Katariina Fagering

orange feathers 1 by Katariina Fagering

three feathers 4 by Katariina Fagering

on being a mom

Raine peachy_web photo by Katariina Fagering

After a long winter break my daughter, Raine, returned to her school on Monday. She attends boarding school in St. Louis and since her departure, I have been weepy without her near. She graduates in the spring and our time together will only dwindle as she steps into the fullness of her life as an adult.

raine Wu photo by Katariina Fagering

The gravity of this monumental right of passage is hitting me with full force. I know I will always be her mother but my role in many ways will change drastically after she graduates. I will have finished my purpose as the mother of Raine as a child and move into being the mother of an adult. Although there are tangible changes when a child graduates, the real shift for me is on the subtle level.raine in snow by Katariina Fagering

Raine was my only child for 13 years when her little brother Finnegan arrived the day before her 13th birthday. We have been through so much together over these 17 years and we share a special bond. I feel a strong connection to her that extends beyond this lifetime.

raine as baby by Katariina Fagering

When she was a baby, it was clear to me, that my job as her parent, was too build her confidence, develop her independence, and most importantly to guide her to listen to her own internal compass. I had a vision of her leaving home as an empowered young woman who knew who she was and what she wanted to achieve in life. If that thing she initially chose changed a dozen times in her life, it wouldn’t matter to me; having a sense of direction of what to do next was important.

Raine and mom by Katariina Fagering

You can probably guess that this desire for her was created out of my own experience which looked very different. I had no direction and no real options, so when the Marine Corps recruiter called I didn’t hesitate to say yes! I know my parents did the best they knew how and I have no regrets about the choices I had, nor the decisions I made.

Raine however, is having a very different experience. She knows what college she is attending next year and her passion is musical theater, so she plans to study theater, dance and voice for four years and then head to New York City to test her talents.

Raine and Momma

As we move into the last months of her childhood, I am reflecting on our time together – both the low points and the high points. I made a lot of mistakes along the way but as is true for every mom, I did the best I knew how, or I would have done better. Life has dealt Raine some challenges to overcome but I know these challenges also have made her into the woman she has become.

rain Wu photo by Katariina Fagering

She is one of the funniest people I know; she is tenacious, kind and ever so talented. She sings, dances, plays the ukulele, ice skates, snow boards, rides horseback, kayaks, and brings joy to many. I couldn’t be prouder of all she has accomplished thus far and am so excited to witness her from my new position as the mother of the adult Raine.

raine as pocahontis by Katariina Fagering

raine in buns by Katariina FAgering

Raine in red by Katariina FAgering