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,

Katariina

 

 

 

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when Kali comes . . .

darkcrow wings

Black wolf called me out

       from under my warm white sheets

             into my naked darkness.

                   Her beady eyes glaring down on me

 

my judge, jury and executioner.

      Lonely night of death dripping

           fear gripping my body

                  both longing and afraid.

 

Teeth snarling, spitting, ferocious

       and hungry for the remnants of my sorrow

             lurking behind Pleiades

                  squatting in the heavens

 

pacing,  and waiting.

     Then she lunges

            Gnashing, Growling, Snarling, Tearing

                   Shaking me free of the bindings

 

Of my sorrow.

     Flesh ripping.

           Tendons snapping.

                  Bones cracking.

 

All that remains

      Is Hemmingway’s honest and true

             bare bones, naked night, no excess, no fluff

                    Just the boney truth, the pure and the true.

 

Humbled by her ferocious hunger

       shaky gratitude moistens my face

             at the feet of my

                   beady-eyed liberator.

  dark sky 2

 

I actually wrote this poem months ago in Santa Fe after being awoken by some force and pulled outside to sit under the stars during the Pleiades and two beady stars above kept piercing through me. I grabbed my journal and wrote this poem pretty close to what it is today. 

Tonight, I decided I was tired of waiting for it to be better and I just wanted to get it out there. The Universe appreciates speed or so they say, so create and share! I want to start posting more often, I miss it. 

Thanks for reading and let me know if it resonates. 

Big Love, 
Katariina

 

the necessity of creativity . . .

This morning I had an easy stroll through a part of the Heights yet explored by me. It’s hard to keep a good pace when I see so much that needs to be captured. My creativity has reached a point of flowing so loudly, I cannot silence it, even if I wanted to.

 

like liquid fire

Creative expression is not a luxury for any of us, it is a necessity much like air, water, food, sleep, etc. It’s just that when we are out of practice of unleashing that need to express, it gets quiet & slowly dries up, yet it is still there, always there waiting for us to start noticing & then coaxing it back into a full flow again. That is where I am today.

But I know what it is like to have life, work & family take over where it feels as if there is no time or energy to express my creativity. I may have been busy, but part of me was dead, lifeless & I ultimately didn’t feel fulfilled or complete.

why just fence between these two trees?

I love my new iPhone for this purpose. I have a lot of cameras, from simple to complicated ones, but today my favorite is still the instagram app on my iPhone. It makes creating interesting, soul-full images easy, less time-consuming, with an instant result.

teal & grass green

I believe the best first step in recovering your creativity, is to start paying attention to what catches your eye. If it is a color, or a building, a contrast of two colors, a person, a crack in the sidewalk, the roots of trees, it hardly matters, but notice it, ponder on it, notice everything that draws your attention. Take photos of them.

Slowly that aspect of your inner being will start trickling a long with your interest in it, then it will give you more, open up further, wider until you won’t be able to stop it. You will need to write a story, a poem, take more photos, rip up paper, get out your pencil & doodle, sketch, paint, sculpt & dance. You will be filled with so much energy you can’t stop or slow down & there will never be a lack of ideas of what to create or express next.

three faces of red

love this polaroid app ~ shake it!

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!

ubuntu . . .

A few years ago I was admitted into the VA Hospital for a month stay in a lock-down unit on the Mental Ward for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The years following my return from a year in Iraq with the Marine Corps were challenging to put it mildly. It turned out I wasn’t equipped to find my way back from the war zone with all of its death & destruction on my own. Although I was very aware & educated on the subject, I still lacked the skills to manuever around triggers & keep myself safe. I think the biggest problem was that I was in denial about my skills, abilities & the depth of how depression & PTSD were truly affecting my life.

in the in-between

I was spiralling down fast when I finally admitted to myself that spending some time away from my life focusing on unravelling the meanings I made of everything witnessed & experienced in Iraq would be empowering. I knew I had to do something.

The program was for women only & they called it WISER (an acronym for something clever about women). I expected the other participants to be combat vets from Iraq & Afghanistan, but as it turned out during this session they were from the Vietnam era  & were mostly Military Sexual Trauma victims. In addition, they were all southern women from various backgrounds that didn’t look anything like mine. They were kind but I felt like an odd duck for numerous reasons having to do with education level, income level, interests, time in service, rank, & color of skin. They all seemed to share a common southern language that was spoken quickly & softly using words in contexts I had never heard before. I found myself saying, “huh?” a lot, or just laughing & nodding at everything they said. Most of what they said was usually cracking a joke so laughing was a safe bet. These women loved to laugh, to eat & to smoke.

the little girl within is angry

I spent the first week trying to figure out how I had ended up in a cohort of women who were nothing like me. What was the lesson here? Then one day while reading Brian Nepo’s The Book of Awakening, I stumbled upon a page that I had folded, penciled, underlined, & starred with little side notes. It was entitled, Ubuntu. Suddenly I got it!! They were not different from me. They were me & I them. I could not know myself without knowing them with compassion & love. My judgments were more about myself than them. If the women were similar to me, and had been in a combat zone, then perhaps I would have missed my opportunity to focus on myself. As it turned out, I was one of the youngest in the program, I think the oldest was 65 or so. This allowed me to take on a baby role, rather than having to nurture & mother those from the Iraq/Afghanistan era who are much younger. It was serendipitous to land in this pod of women.

the little girl inside is tired of holding it all in

The program was a very intense, life-changing four weeks where the life I had been living, the meanings I made of everything, even back to childhood, & the choices I made were all laid out before me & slowly unravelled to make sense or allow it to just not make sense.

I learned a lot during my stay but Ubuntu was one of the juicier lessons learned.

I wrote this poem below while in the hospital & read it to everyone at graduation.

the gathering

Ubuntu

by
 Katariina Fagering

I came here afraid, alone and lost. I
had forgotten who I was

Wandering
in the shadow lands of darkness, I questioned:

How did I
get here?

Who are
these women?

Do I
belong?

But then a
whisper filtered through my heart ~

 

Ubuntu

I am,
because you are.

Suddenly,
my sisters appeared and I found me in them.

Ubuntu

I am,
because you are.

Because she
is nurturing, motherly, love,

Hilarious

laughter filling the room,

Sunshine-sweet-southern drawl,

So am I.

Because
she is elegant, wise and brilliant,

Seeking,
searching and humble,

A courageous, proud, fierce protector,

So am I.

Connecting
with heart, I take you in my heart.

Because my
sister was raped, I was raped.

Because my
sister has HIV, I too have HIV.

Because my
sister went to war, I went to war.

Because my
sister is an alcoholic, I am an alcoholic.

Because my
sister’s mother died, my mother died.

Because my
sister has been beaten, raped, humiliated, lost, tossed and mistreated,

So have I.

Ubuntu

I am,
because you are.

Together
we are reaching out,

Connecting,

Finding
love, loving ourselves,

Being
Audacious enough. She is enough. I am enough.

All that I

witness in you, my sisters,

So am I.

 Because
you shared the gift of you,

 I now know the fullness
of me.

Marine with Iraqi Children, Karabyla, Iraq 2006

more poetry please. . .

eVery day I yearn for more poetry. I long to hear sweet poetic words that skip over my brain and settle into my soul awakening a piece of me that is now sleeping. I long to dance along with the second reading of a poem that fits like a glove yet is emotive enough to wake me up to a deeper, slumbering part of myself. Painting & photography can do this part way but poetry somehow catapults me deeper, my soul livens, weeps, dances & sings.

I want to share my own poetry here but don’t have a poem that fits this moment. So instead let me share an old favorite by Mary Oliver.  Here is the photograph I made years ago back at Camp Pendleton, CA with one of my Holga cameras. It is also called The Journey.

the journey

The Journey by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew

what you had to do, and began,

though the voices around you

kept shouting

their bad advice-

though the whole house

began to tremble

and you felt the old tug

at your ankles

“Mend my life!”

each voice cried.

But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,

though the wind pried

with its stiff fingers

at the very foundations,

though their melancholy

was terrible.

It was already late

enough, and a wild night,

and the road full of fallen

branches and stones.

But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do-

determined to save

the only life you could save.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I love this poem’s message of saving the only life I can save, mine. No matter how deep their meloncholy is, no matter how difficult their journey seems. I live with an overwhelming sense of responsibility for others (perhaps a condition of being of service for nearly 20 years. I am releasing this now & diving deeply into my own journey of poetry, art, healing & discovering.

I’m hoping that this will be the impetus to get me writing some poetry again. I want to dance with my soul more frequently inbetween taking Raine to school, doing the laundry, & fixing dinner. When I dance with poetry the pain of the world can’t catch up to me.

Big Poetic Love,

katariina

i never saw a wild thing . . .

“I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen
dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself”
~ DH Lawrence

wild thing

I discovered this dear, little, wild thing resting on my studio door step this morning. She was so peaceful & still that it reminded me of DH Lawrence’s poem, Self Pity. Her presence moved me so much that I had to share her & my ponderings here with you.

I don’t interpret Lawrence’s poem to be about how to die with grace but more about how to live without worry. To live so fully & with such voracity that the end isn’t even noticed. I don’t know what brought the end to this precious bird’s life this morning but I do know that she met the end filled with life. I imagine she was fluttering, flittering & tweeting (not on an iPhone) along doing what she does best when the end came to her without a thought or worry. Death is certain for all of us, so why worry about it, right?

Tears well up from within as I ponder this way of living & I admire her grace & utter beauty. What a gift that she chose my doorstep to rest, so that perhaps I could be reminded to live more fully. Unlike a wild thing, I spend a lot of my day thinking & day dreaming of horrific events. I often imagine what it would be like to have terrorists storm our house, knocking over our furniture, shouting, shooting with such violence as we hide in a closet with our children hoping they won’t hurt us. When I drive I can picture large trucks plowing through my car. I sometimes imagine that other drivers have guns & begin shooting at me. I dream at night of death & destruction in all the ways I’ve witnessed it in Iraq & in other places. I remember those who I knew that were killed in Iraq, both Marines & Iraqis. But I remember their deaths more than their lives. I don’t talk about this with anyone much because it really is a downer. It’s not that I’m afraid of dying, in fact sometimes I long for it.  I struggle with PTSD & making sense of all the hate, destruction, & death in the world. I mourn for our lack of humanity & compassion. Remembering & mourning can be compassionate but I need time to live, create, love, savor & enjoy?

Thank you my little, wild, thing for lying dead on my doorstep. Blessings to you & to all the wild things that are resting today & may I go forward & live in a more mindful, present, grateful space.

Lovingly gracious,

Katariina