Breathing Into My Authentic Story

trees in chula vista by Katariina Fagering

I’m typing tonight as the sun descends into the ocean, filled with gratitude for my gorgeous husband who took the kids to play somewhere far away so I could be alone for the first time in I can’t remember when. The lack of quiet, reflective, creative solitude is just one of the downsides to living in such a small space and leaving our nanny behind in Houston (I miss you Ana).

Beyond the RV park we are living in, I hear laughter and shouts from a boisterous game of volleyball in the harbor park. Willow, my dog snores under the day bed while Crow caws as she flies overhead, perhaps to say goodnight and remind me to stay the course.

crow with buzz on the wall at dancing crow yoga (love that name!)

Whether the myth about Crow being the keeper of Sacred Law holds water or not, I hardly care. Crow has kept me true and everyday truer to my course of living the fullest, healthiest expression of myself. She reminds me that I am an active, radiant being inside and out, full of life, love and wisdom to share. My authentic story is better told when I am living congruently with my highest expression, instead of succumbing to those more base desires, like drinking, gorging, consuming, and overindulging and a tendency to want to lay down as often as is possible (that’s a Kapha for you).

Living these three months on the shore of the pacific ocean has softened me into a new devotion for the wellness of my body, mind and spirit. I feel like a toddler in many ways, learning to trust my new legs on this path towards inward devotion.

larry yoga photo by Katariina Fagering

As I wrote in my previous post, Birthing a New Lifestyle, our life took a left turn in February. We sold our house, one of our two vehicles, and rid ourselves of a lot of excess stuff that no longer served us.  We slowed down the over-consumption and paid down nearly all our debt (just a little bit to go!). Those steps were just the beginning.

Laura and Bhava photo by Katariina Fagering

We came to San Diego to take an intensive yoga course called, Mastery of Life Training, a yoga course taught with the vedic wisdom of the Eight Limbs of Yoga (our teacher, Bhava, wrote a book about this). Mastery of Life Training is a 10 week course that meets every other weekend for about 20 hours of yoga, breathing, meditation, movement and mantra. This course is both gentle and challenging, loving and stirring; it taught me to embrace my discomfort while pushing my comfort levels.

The learning curve for us has been steep, but we are committed to living more healthy and active.  This practice takes a lot of devotion.

Larry can Dance by Katariina Fagering

Larry and I view this experience as an opportunity for a total system reset; a chance to shift our lifestyle. Living in Houston wasn’t kind to us in many ways. When a buffalo burger and a pint of delicious craft beer is within arms reach, we found ourselves out of balance and  drinking every night to survive the humidity, heat and concrete (please don’t get me wrong Houston is an awesome city in many ways, I’m just not a city girl – it doesn’t work with my dosha).

laura plumb photo by Katariina Fagering

A few weeks after arriving in San Diego, Laura Plumb, one of our yoga instructors offered an Ayurvedic 21 Day Spring Cleanse which included eliminating meat, alcohol, gluten, sugar (the hardest for me), dairy and caffeine. Instead, we learned how to eat amazingly delicious dishes of rice or quinoa, beans and greens with ayurvedic spices like turmeric, fenugreek, cloves, fennel and ginger. We drank a lot of teas and yummy smoothies.

We are long past the 21 days – moving into ten weeks of no alcohol and pure healthy eating. Our bodies are slimming down.  I’m feeling stronger, Larry’s back is forgetting the constant pain he once accepted. Most importantly, we are softening into an unconditional love and devotion for ourselves.

dinner photo by Katariina Fagering

It feels like a natural progression to first clean up our home and outer lifestyle, before turning inward to that healthy physical stasis we knew at one point in our lives. We decided to adopt this way of eating for six months, give our livers a rest and then see how we feel. I don’t want to be militant or absolute about anything.  This isn’t a path of fundamentalism; it is a path of grace and devotion. If my mom makes us a wonderful cheesecake when we visit her, I’ll savor each bite with gratitude for the love she put into creating it for us.

Bhava photo by Katariina Fagering

Bhava Ram – check out his amazing journey by clicking the photo

We began our cleaning up and clearing out with our home and possessions, before moving onto our bodies. Now I am beginning to experience the subtle (emotional) body in a new and poetic way. To allow every breath to be a conversation towards a more congruent expression of my highest version of my self.

With every breath I am audaciously learning to tell my story with my whole heart.

om home photo by Katariina Fagering

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Birthing a New Lifestyle

chula vista marina

This morning, as the sun rose I practiced my yoga asanas out on the lawn next to Chula Vista Marina in southern California. The cool breeze carried the taste of salt as the sun warmed my face. I felt cradled in the beauty of Mother Earth. My heart filled with gratitude for the freedom to make new life choices and know that Mother Earth will always catch and embrace me when I fall.

crow

Crow (keeper of the Sacred Law) keeps showing up to remind me to step deeper into my own integrity and live in congruence with the woman I know I am. Crow wants me to stay present in this timeless moment where past, present and future exist as one. Where I am standing in my full expression of self, creating audaciously connecting to the deep wisdom held by my ancestors. I’ve missed crow’s gentle reminder because in Houston there are very few crows, seldom heard or seen. Can you imagine going a day without conversing with a crow? I can’t and yet I did for 3 years.

In February our lives took a left turn and suddenly we were packing up our house to be sold, buying a travel trailer (I like to call it our Caravan) and making plans to head west to study yogic living for a few months. It felt like such a quick birthing of a new lifestyle but as I thought further I realized this idea was first conceived nine months ago at our wedding.

Larry at wedding

The weekend of Big Luscious Matrimony in Dripping Springs, Texas was really more of a coming out party for Larry and I. It was the first time we had experienced our imperfectly, authentic dream of cultivating our creativity, connecting with our community and exploring sustainability. We planned the minute details of the wedding for over a year so that it would be a direct reflection of ourselves. We had local ice cream, local beer, local pies, local dinner. We collected mason jars for the year to use as reusable water glasses for the guests. We got he flowers from a flower farm down the street.

wedding flowers

Then we allowed for mystery to show up and help us complete our dream. The ceremony was planned that morning before the wedding and it was perfect. We had a circle gathering of all our guests just before the rehearsal dinner and I wasn’t sure what would happen but we wanted to create an opportunity to share our intention for the weekend and for people to meet each other. What happened actually blew me away. Deep sharing, tears, laughter, and bonding. We only planned to hold the space for coming together. kat and larry wedding day

On our last morning at the venue, sipping our coffee on the front porch, Larry and I decided that we needed to live this way. So we figured naturally that meant to buy a ranch and create our structures and call in our tribe. We dreamed of swimming in our natural pond pool, hosting gatherings of all sorts while we raised our feral children to run wild and free.

the land that heals

Nine moths later when we are getting ready to put some money down on 50 acres in Hill Country, Texas, Larry asks if we might want to postpone the buying of land and instead travel a bit in that “caravan” we were buying to live in while we built our first structure. With only a few seconds of thought I shouted, “YES” and we were off to pack up, haul out, donate, toss out and give away our collection of stuff so we could easily live in our tiny caravan.

As it turns out the baby we birthed didn’t look anything like we expected. Instead of us living stationary calling in our tribe, it looks like we will be riding with the wind at our backs with our hearts full of honey gathering new members of the tribe and visiting and “talking story” with our antiquated tribal peeps.

Goodbye Happy Home!

Goodbye Happy Home!

This labor was arduous, both physically and mentally taxing as all of my labors are. Then there was the painful limbo period between contractions where I wasn’t able to express my creativity and our dream didn’t quite look like we had planned. Yet the further we traveled across the Sonoran Desert away from Houston the clearer the path became. It’s as if the fog of living in the humid urban hub of concrete and strip malls had lifted and I could breath again and the scent of the pacific ocean was calling us home.

Sonoran Desert

Our passage to California is just the first stop in our new mobile life. We are attending an intensive yoga course called, Mastery of Life Course by Laura and Bhava. I will write more about this experience now that the wild, salty winds from the sea are cleaning out all the sluggishness and waking up my feral, creative soul.  The sea and crow will bring me back to my balanced stasis of audacious-ness.

Where will we go next? We’re not quite sure yet, perhaps north, perhaps east, we’ll have to see what plan we conceive and hatch during the next few months in glorious San Diego.

the ancient radiance of others . . .

ariana's guardian angel by Katariina Fagering

It is such a rare occasion to stand in the presence of another and be truly seen; it is what we all so deeply long for and when it happens, healing takes place. The illusion of separation dissolves and we begin to experience true connection. Perhaps this is the experience we could move towards in this world. Instead of arming our schools with guards carrying weapons to keep violence in check, can we begin to truly see one another and live from a place of embracing compassion so that no one slips into a space of feeling unseen?

I’m discovering that this is an ancient truth that bridges across cultures and time.

 

The South Africans use the word ubuntu which means: I am because you are. I love this notion that until I know the fullness of you, I can never completely know myself. It’s a way of showing up in the world celebrating everyone, where ever they may be.  Rather than judging others, ubuntu is about embracing them for just existing; for showing you a new aspect of yourself.

ubuntu front postcard by Katariina Fagering

The Celts have an old Gaelic term that means “soul friend.”I learned about this in the book Anam Cara by John  O’Donahue. In the presence of an anam cara you could share your innermost self, your thoughts and your heart’s longings. Since you can never be fully visually present to your self; your anam cara is the truest mirror to reflect your soul. When you gaze at someone with soft eyes and an open heart, and the gaze is returned, there is a merging and deepening of both souls.

shells in Anam Cara by Katariina Fagering

The Buddhist tradition has a term called Kalyana-mitra or “noble friend.” One must depend on the Kalyana-mitra to see what you cannot see for yourself.  So once again, I can’t know myself without another to show me. The Kalyana-mitra compliments the scope of your own vision of self – like a mirror.

Violette reflection by Katariina Fagering

These terms point to the same notion that we are not whole without the vision and expression of everyone. Often I hear people say, “Yes, we are all one!”, but this feels like a cliché despite its truth.  Maybe this is because its’ deeper significance resides in a world most of us don’t experience, especially not with strangers. Can you imagine what it must feel like to look so deeply at someone who they become part of you?

peony by Katariina FAgering

This past fall I had two occasions to speak publicly about truly seeing one another as ourself. One was Call of the Wild Soul Art Workshop in England and the other at the Sophia Circle in Coronado, California. During each presentation I shared an exercise I learned from two of my teachers, Claire Zammit and Katherine Woodward Thomas of Evolving Wisdom.

sophia altar Katariina Fagering

I call it my Ubuntu Exercise because it allows one’s eyes to soften and heart to open enough to experience the woman they are listening to, sitting across from them, not separate but an actual part of them. Taking attention off of self and letting go of concerns of being seen in a particular way is a powerful exercise. I invite them to see their partner (the speaker) subjectively instead of objectively.  I offer visual snippets from experiences in the speaker’s life, universal to us all. For example, “there was a time when she went to school for the first time and was scared. Her parents cried because their little girl was growing up. Then there was the time she bought her first bra, and a time she had her first kiss. She has a story about the time she betrayed a friend and felt horrible about it and another time when she was betrayed.” These are just a few examples of the experiences I bring to their attention as they are looking in the eyes of their partner.

After this, I ask the speaker to speak from the edge of her own knowing about what her soul is calling her to create next. The listener is asked to listen as if what she is about to say is the most important message ever spoken and that the future of the world depended upon it. Can you imagine what it would feel like to be listened to with that level of attention? What would you say?

sophia conference

Not everyone is able to fully engage into this exercise but if they do what happens is magical! Women begin to swell with pride for the woman across from them as if she is their own child, tears then slowly fall down their cheeks as they fall in love with this stranger sitting across from them. An energy swells between the two and there is no more separation because each one is seen deeper than their own sense of vision. Their souls are embracing outside of their bodies and they are enshrined in a circle of belonging.

The Gathering by Katariina Fagering

The true contour of their spirit is illuminated in this soulful space and each woman is able to witness the ancient radiance of the other as themselves. No longer on the outside of their skin this sacred blending begins to heal the wounded self.

contoured over time by Katariina Fagering

This is the world I want to continue to dance in through art workshops or wherever I am called. I am urgently interested in revealing the infinite, ancient connectedness of one another that melts the hardened shell protecting our hearts and allows us to be free of our fear of judgement, vulnerability and being truly seen.

Perhaps because it is what I need the most!

With Deep Love,

Katariina

surrender by Katariina Fagering

i saw Venus in me . . .

A few months before my wedding I realized that my weight wasn’t going away and I had only one choice; I needed to accept my body just as it is and find a fabulous dress. Luckily finding the dress was easy. Learning to love my body continues to come along in stages.

My Feminine Power practices taught me how to check in with that uncomfortable feeling, ask how old it is and then ask what she is feeling and what she needs. Well as I went through this process, I learned that she was about 6 years old, felt un-lovable, awkward, ugly, not pretty enough, wrong and different.  She told me she needed to just be loved unconditionally and to be told she was loved no matter how she looked. I kept working with this process whenever any uncomfortable feelings arose. It’s the instant soother.

When the wedding day arrived, I felt radiant and so much love for Larry and everyone present. As my lovely maidens cinched up my dress, I asked them to make sure it wasn’t too tight as all the flesh had to go somewhere and although more flesh in the front gives me more boobage, extra flesh in the back just looks like back fat seeping over my beautiful dress. They made no promises but assured me I would look radiant. I took another gulp of wine and clung to the bed post as they tightened even more, taking the breath out of me.

As I told you in previous posts, it was the most exquisite celebration and I felt absolutely lovely all through the evening. But then . . . the photos from friends starting rolling in and I quickly discovered just how much back fat was oozing over my dress.

I was literally stricken in the gut but a familiar self-loathing feeling. I have since named that part of me, Sergeant Zero-Tolerance; and she is pretty serious about what is okay and what is not okay for me. I actually think she means well; she’s trying to keep us safe and within proper regulations. The problem is her methods are destructive and debilitating to the whole-ness of me. My heart races, my blood runs thickly, I start to panic, walls come up within me, I get angry and I try to figure out who is in on this conspiracy to destroy me. I guess that would be paranoia. It took days to come down away from the edge and realize nothing had changed, I was still that lovely, gorgeous bride, Larry loves me, and my family and friends adore me unconditionally, just as I am.

The last stage was when I got the professional shots from our incredible photographers Joy and Donny Prouty of Wildflowers Photography. I truly embraced the beauty of the day, the joy and love that was expressed.

The the mourning doves showed up on my back patio. I know that when an animal shows itself often or suddenly that there is usually a lesson to be learned or a message being presented. So Dove Medicine indicates a peaceful, calm, gentle and giving person. They are monogamous and most importantly they are the sacred animal of Venus, the goddess of love and pleasure.

Laura, our celebrant at our wedding had read my Jyotish (Indian Astrology) and among a ton of things, she told me I had a lot of Venus in my chart. I didn’t really know what to make of that, other than Laura told me to do some daily Sun Salutations in her honor.

But then as I learned more about Venus being the Goddess of Love and Pleasure and I looked at paintings and statues of her created throughout the ages by artists. She was voluptuous, beautiful, oozing with love and sexuality, inviting people to enjoy life, connection and beauty. As I looked again through the wedding photos, I saw Venus in me. It wasn’t just in my physical form but in the gathering that I created which was full of pleasure, good food, plenty of drinks, and the joy of connecting.  When I shared this with Laura this is what she wrote;

“Yes, I so see Venus in your wedding photos. Definitely. In her material self she is comfort and color and sexuality: all velvet and lace, like your wedding. In her higher self, she is attractive, luring us to the divine reality that all is beauty, love, harmony and oneness.”
So this is where I am on my journey to falling madly in love with myself – just as I am!

Big Luscious Matrimony

It’s been so long since I’ve visited with you all here on these pages. So much has happened and I’ve travelled great distances; from Spain to France to California. But more significantly is the distance I’ve travelled in my own personal evolution.

Over the past few months I dug my toes deeply into the warm, earthy dirt that my relationship with Larry grew from. In a beautiful ceremony in Dripping Springs, Texas we deepened our roots by marrying each other amongst the ancient oaks and our loved ones.

It was a kooky, sweet, touching, tearful, sacred, perfectly imperfect ceremony led by our sweet Goddess, soul-sister, Laura Plumb. My maidens danced down the aisle to “You Can Count on Me by Bruno Mars. I walked down with my dear friend, Brian Wright to “Ong Namo” by Snatum Kaur. 

Oh my Beloved
Kindness of the Heart
Breath of Life
I bow to You

And I’m coming home
And I’m coming home
And I’m coming home
And I’m coming home

These are the words I walked down to, it felt as if I were coming home to my soul mates, heart. It was very touching for both of us. Before I could step out the door, Finnegan took my bouquet in exchange for this ring bearer pillow, which was indicative of the entire ceremony.

After we kissed sealing our vows forever, we danced back down the aisle with everyone in tow to Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes’, “Home.”  Are you seeing a theme here?

Despite all the crazy disruptions of dogs, toddlers and sobbing tears it was the most moving, original, reflective ceremony I had ever witnessed and being a former wedding photographer, I’ve been to my fair share of weddings  (I wonder if all brides feel this way :o).

I wanted to share our first 8mm wedding highlight clip with you all.

 

For another peak into the bodacious weekend celebration click on this flickr page right HERE!

Big Luscious Love to you all,

The newly coupled, wedded, amalgamated, hitched, espoused, blissfully rooted in love, Katariina!

Allow Freedom!

Allow Freedom

And the day came when I needed them.

When the battle was too big for me,

And the lawyer by my side.

I summoned them from the far reaches of time;

Legions of Mothers, Grandmothers, and all the Greats!

We shared this thing in common.

We knew the struggle to keep a child safe.

I called them forth for my little girl;

The baby I birthed,

The Little girl within me,

And every little girl throughout all time,

Who ever needed to be loved, protected and heard;

Every girl who ever needed the freedom to choose.

I gathered them into that courtroom,

To stand with me,

Arms linked,

Hearts connected,

Known, felt, embraced.

They came gracefully, elegantly,

Holding me with calm certainty.

I scrawled our intention in large letters and underlined, “Allow Freedom!

We didn’t come to destroy, conquer or ravage.

We came to defend and allow with love,

With Sofia Wisdom, empathy and grace.

We washed everything over with fierce

“Mama Bear” love of protection.

For one purpose, with one intention, “Allow Freedom.”

In our united front,

Madame Justice held up her scales,

The child was heard,

Her desire granted.

The judge proclaimed,

“I have never done this before,

I’m not sure why I am doing this now,

But I am going to allow the child to decide

Who she will live with and if and when

She wants to visit her father.”

{Silence}

Tears washed over the Legions.

They rejoiced in gratitude.

She was their child and this was

A victory for grace,

A victory for all they stood for.

A victory for all they ever desired;

For every girl to be heard,

Trusted and allowed the freedom to choose!

Freedom was granted on this day

For my little girl and therefore

For all little girls.

I wrote poem very quickly after sitting with such radiantly beautiful, soul-full women at the Sophia Conference in November of last year. The conference is hard to put into words but it touched, moved, shifted & changed me in so many subtle & not-so-subtle ways.

The court hearing was one of those magical, divine moments that today still seems difficult to believe. My daughter had been tormented and abused by her father for years and when I took her for the summer and stood up to him, he took me to court and this is what the court had to say about that.

Articulating this even in poetry is just one of the gifts that emerged from the Sophia experience.

If you are interested in attending next year’s conference in San Diego please get in touch with Laura Plumb at Deep Yoga!

living coconut cream pie. . . oh my!

living coconut cream pie

So this was the coolest pie to make. It’s all with raw ingredients, basically every part of the coconut & then dates. I got the recipe from Laura Plum’s blog, Food: a Love Story. She says it came from “Cafe Gratitude’s I Am Grateful Recipe book by Terces Engelhart, which I so gratefully received from a friend. If there is one raw food recipe book to have, for me it is this one. Along with great recipes it is filled with techniques, inspiration, and a fabulous Resource list at the back.”  (Cafe Gratitude in San Fran is a place I want to visit soon)

I think I need that recipe book as well. It’s funny, I have been called to eat a raw diet most of my life, but for so many different reasons, I never did. There is something about it, that resonates with my soul. I have never been a meat eater & I LOVE fruit. I was not raised on much dairy & have probably never drank a full glass of milk – ever. I first became interested in a healthier lifestyle when I was a young buck in the Marine Corps & I read Fit for Life. I have held onto some of the basic principles from that book over the years. I have tried many different kinds of eating habits that just were not a fit or didn’t stick for whatever reasons. Eating healthy in the Marine Corps is not always the easiest thing to do.

But all the signs always point me back to yoga & vegan raw. Hmmmmmm????? Is this something I should actually assimilate, once & for all? Perhaps it could clear up some of the difficulties I have with digestion, depression, PTSD, anxiety, etc. etc. etc. You think?

Well anyways, this pie is fabulous, we loved it. Go to Laura’s blog to find the recipe & many other recipes as well.

Nom Nom Nom

Yummmmyy!!!

Oh & we picked up our first box from the Rawfully Organic Co-op & oh my goodness, there was such a bounty of goodies. Raine was so inspired she made herself a juice with 5 strawberries, a sweet apple, & an orange. She called it Raine’s Juicy Fruit.

Just some of the bounty

Raine's Juicy Fruit

Raine is really great at coming up with great concoctions. Yesterday she put a cucumber with a pear & a granny smith. It was like liquid fresh-ness, a living elixir.  I forgot what she called it, but we’re going to document them so we can easily recreate. I usually just throw a little of every veggie we have on hand & sweeten up with a pear, apple or strawberries.

I’m enjoying this journey, I’ve never been a foodie so it is odd for me to be writing so much about food but I’m really loving this kind of food & what a better way to live juicier than to drink juice!!! :o)

ps. I am embarrassed to report that Raine is cooking SPAM in a frying pan as I write this. She is making a SPAM sandwich. I think she thinks it’s an Asian thing & part of her heritage. She’s just doing her part, I guess. :o)