waking up to my life

I have been reflecting on the experiences that have helped me to wake up to the preciousness of my own life and I want to share something I wrote a couple of years ago (edited version)

If you have an intention to “wake up” as well, please consider joining me and Maia Duerr for Waking Up to Your Life, a program and learning community we created to support you to begin or deepen a practice. 


Application/Registration opens December 17th
Program begins January 15th


kathyphoto by Pam Fox


I have been reflecting on how precious and precarious this life is and I am remembering an experience I had several years ago when my friend Gina and I were driving across country from the east coast to the southwest. It was early in the morning and we had just spent the night at a hotel in Wheeling, West Virginia and were heading towards Ohio. We had our tea and snacks for the day, perhaps listening to Krishna Das. Our spirits were up as we continued on our journey, with anticipation, towards Santa Fe. We were on a six lane divided highway, probably going about 65-70 mph and at this point there was little traffic on the road. To our right were woods full of trees moving towards Autumn…the sun was just rising, it was chilly and the air was a bit misty.

Ahead of me I saw something on the highway, and my mind went into high gear as I tried figure out what it was. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion as I recognized that in the road ahead were a doe and her fawn standing in the middle of the middle lane, the lane my car was in. Instantly I pushed the button to turn on my flashers as I slowed the car way down. I began praying out loud, pleading the doe to lead her fawn out of the road.

At the same time I was noticing there were a number of cars coming up behind us. I was praying that the drivers would see what was happening and would slow down. I recognized that I had absolutely no control of the situation. Where would the deer go? The doe could easily make it over the low concrete divider, but the fawn? And there were cars on the other side of the highway. Please hurry, beautiful mother….please, please, get your precious baby with her little white spots out of the road. My adrenaline was rushing, I could feel my heart beating rapidly, a knot was forming in my stomach, and my eyes were filling with tears…perhaps I was holding my breath. Gina put her hand on my leg. So much was running through my mind. I was terrified that something really awful was about to happen – that the deer and or humans were about to die. Any one of us… all of us.

In a magical, mysterious moment, all the cars slowed down. Somehow the mama deer signaled to her baby and they ran off the highway, disappearing back into the woods. In my mind all the cars came to a complete stop, but I can’t say for sure what happened. I was so startled, so awake in that moment… knowing full well that it could have been my last moment, my last breath. But it wasn’t.

Another moment of waking up was twenty some years ago when my surgeon, dear Ellen Brock told me that I had cancer, it was as if she had told me I had a cold. My mind could not comprehend the words that came out of her mouth. It wasn’t until I saw the tears in her eyes that I recognized it was more serious than a cold.

In that moment, time seemed to leap into slow motion. My adrenaline was rushing, I could feel my heart beating rapidly, a knot was forming in my stomach, and my eyes were filling with tears… perhaps I was holding my breath. Ellen put her hand on my shoulder. So much was running through my mind. I was terrified that something really awful was happening. What did this mean, to have a diagnosis of cancer? How was I going to tell my parents? What was going to happen to my life? Did it mean I was going to die? I was only 31 years old. I don’t remember praying or pleading…. The situation was beyond my comprehension and seemingly out of my control. I was in shock, scared and confused. And I was awake.

After a second surgery and chemo treatments I was skin and bones and everything seemed to take way too much energy. I spent the days on the couch, slowly coming to an understanding of what had taken place, and slowly gathering the gifts that were given to me, gifts that continue to guide me to this day. Of course there is so much more to this story (perhaps for another post), but clearly it was not my time to go, for which I am continually amazed, and truly grateful.

I will never forget that moment when a cancer diagnosis crossed my path, nor will I ever forget that moment when the doe and fawn crossed my path. Both took me to an edge. Both were wake up calls. We all have these calls each day – big and small, pushing us to the edge, urging us to awaken and not take things for granted. It seems we somehow need these reminders to wake up. I welcome the small reminders and I recognize that I don’t need to wait for a big wake up call to remember how precious this life is and that I can choose to live my life fully…. now. I can choose to wake up.



deep gratitude to the Water Protectors


My heart is heavy and full of hope all at once as I continue to follow what the amazing Water Protectors are doing in North Dakota. There is heaviness in my heart because of how these courageous and steadfast people are being treated. There is hope in my heart because these courageous and steadfast people are not giving up. More and more Protectors are showing up at Standing Rock and those of us who are not able to be there standing next to them are sending prayers and support. Please join me in remembering them as they stand to protect the water and the earth for all of us.

None of this is new to First Nations people. They have been doing this for a very long time. What is different is the Life Force that continues to grow, connecting people from all over the world. It is time to wake up.

If you are not aware of who the Water Protectors are or what is going on at Standing Rock in North Dakota, I encourage you to explore… Here are just two sites. There are many others…


making art!

A friend just told me that she has been missing Pausing Turtle posts… I will write more soon re my journey. This will be a quick one as I am in the midst of making art, which is one of the best things in the world for me!!

If you are in the Richmond area, please come by 43rd Street Festival this Saturday, the 17th. Celebrating 25 years!! You can see my latest work inside 43rd St Gallery .

Hope to see you there! Love ~ katya


Re-Connection and Renewal

a retreat...

Dear Friends…

This photo was taken at High Meadow Farm in Freedom, New Hampshire ~
an incredibly beautiful place with energy that is both grounding and magical.

This August my friend and colleague Maia Duerr and I will be co-facilitating a 4 day retreat. I would love for you to join us!

******* Re-Connection and Renewal *******

We have designed this retreat to be a welcoming way to start or deepen a contemplative practice. We will weave together different types of practices and with gentle lovingkindness create a reflective space where you can explore and find what practice resonates with you. Our hope is that this retreat will support you in feeling renewed and empowered with ways to continue “coming home” to this sacred space inside yourself.

High Meadow Farm is a beautiful family farm in Freedom, NH, with majestic views of the White Mountains and lakes. The farm is surrounded by hundreds of acres of old growth forests… hemlock and birch trees watch over us as we drop down into a space of connection and healing.

Learn more about “Re-Connection and Renewal” on this page.
Please share this information with anyone you know who may be interested.
And feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

“The retreat was really amazing. Maia and Katya did an incredible job facilitating.
It was my first time at such a retreat and I am so grateful I took that step
and made the choice to be a part of it…
What a wonderful thing it has done to my Spirit.”