Lady books I love and highly recommend

Little things bring me more joy than laying on the grass (or on a couch!) and reading (or listening) to a good book.

Here are some of my favorite, powerful lady books that I hope you’ll enjoy:

 

When Women were Birds ~

A lovely book about the raw beauty of a woman who’s grieving her mother’s death and the magical connection between the feminine ways and the wild, winged ones.

Witch ~

A witch is a wise woman, a healer. Yet for so long the word “witch” has had negative and shameful connotations. In this book, Lisa Lister explains the history behind witchcraft, why identifying as a healer in past centuries led women to be burned at the stake, and why the witch is reawakening in women across the world today. I felt my bones sing to the rhythm of Lister’s wisdom and felt the witch archetype move through me in a whole new (and exciting) way.

 

Love your Lady Landscape ~

“Love Your Lady Landscape” is a healing journey through the terrain of what it is to be a cycling woman. When we aren’t in alignment with our feminine essence, we can experience exhaustion and overwhelm, lack sexual desire or passion for life and generally feel out of balance. In this book, Lister takes us through a series of practices that include Earth-based spirituality and movement to help us reconnect and realign with our power. Her humor, authenticity and overall badassery are woven throughout the book.

Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly” ~

Woman, if you do not know of Dr. Brene Brown’s work, please look her up! This Texan researcher has ventured into exploring taboo topics like vulnerability, shame and guilt. In 2010 her work went viral with her video, The Power of Vulnerability (LINK to Video). She is hilarious and as real as they come. “Daring Greatly” is a deeply inspiring book about the importance of embracing our imperfections and living vulnerably in order to create and live a fulfilling life.

 

Tiny Beautiful Things ~

Cheryl Strayed is authentic and hilarious. “Tiny Beautiful Things” is a heartbreaking, inspiring and soulful compilation of stories about people seeking advice on love and life and everything in between.

Novels:

I love to read historical novels about strong and fierce female characters. Few things bring me more joy than curling up in a hammock while being transported to far away lands.  If you’re like me, I highly recommend that you read “The Red Tent” by Anita Diamant,  “The Dovekeepers" by Alice Hoffman and “The Passion of Mary Magdalene” by Elizabeth Cunningham. These three novels are rich tales of ancient womanhood, family honor and good old fashion love that you will not be able to put down!

Relax, read and enjoy :)

Warmly, 

Karina Maria

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On devotion and deeply fulfilling self-love

I recently came home from a retreat in the magical island of Corfu with my teacher Chameli Ardagh. We gathered in circle, like women have done for thousands of years and practiced with Radha, an incredibly potent Goddess of love and devotion. My time with them was powerful beyond words and I’m only beginning to feel into the gifts of their particular medicine. It is from this place of “uncooked” integration that I’m honoring my impulse to share my journey with you.

Radha is Lord Krishna’s beloved. Their love for each other begins in childhood and blossoms into adulthood. Wherever Krishna goes, Radha accompanies him. Her devotion towards him is unwavering and deeply passionate. Nevertheless, their love is a star-crossed lovers kind of love and due to very different destinies, they cannot be together. Krishna returns to his home to fulfill his princely duties and Radha stays in their village as a gopi, “cow girl”. With Krishna’s departure, Radha’s heart shatters and she throws herself into her grief, very much like she threw herself into their love; with absolute surrender and willingness to feel her longing.

For the rest of her life, Radha continues to adore Krishna and sees him everywhere she goes. Her love for him transforms into a love for God, a love for life and off course…herself.

The first time I heard Radha’s story, I cringed. This level of devotion and surrender towards her lover seemed unreasonable and frankly, needy and quite co-dependent! I was raised to be a strong woman after all.

But here’s what I’ve come to understand: beyond her love for “her man”, Radha’s love points to something greater. It points to our willingness to enter and deepen our relationship with the Divine, with that which is greater than us. It speaks to our capacity to engage in a wild love affair with life and it’s beautiful and mysterious ways. Krishna is a doorway into that deep love for the beloved the Sufis so beautifully speak of….he/she who is God/Goddess and lives within us.

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So, my dear, what if you could live your life through Radha’s eyes? What if your partner, your child and your work in the world were all portals into that divine love affair? What if you said yes to fully entering it? Knees trembling and heart racing? My heart delights in this possibility.

Radha does not hesitate. She honors her longing and rides it all the way into deeper connection with herself. Two feet in. Wholeheartedly committed. She’s a badass warrior of love and I’m so grateful for her teachings.

I find that as strong, independent women a vital part of our journey towards wholeness is to reconnect and reclaim this innocent way of loving. It is humbling and incredibly vulnerable because it asks us to let another person reaaaally in, deconstructing the idea that we need to protect our hearts, stay “strong” and “have it together”. Allow yourself be needy and tender. Let yourself long for what you long for and open to LOVE. After all, this work is the greatest gift you can give yourself (beyond whether or not it is reciprocated). And remember that true strength resides in your vulnerability (check out Brene Brown’s awe-inspiring work on the power of vulnerability).

This summer Radha taught me about a very different way. As the practices opened and softened my heart, I got a taste of the most exquisite feminine strength. A strength that comes from the depths of my heart and womb. A strength that is soft and spacious and that whispers, “open, love fully, love deeply, do not hold back….I’m here”, “open love fully, love deeply, do not hold back…I’m here”.

And so it is!

In devotion,

Karina Maria

Give Yourself the Gift of Support

For more than a decade I have been working with women. In my experience, when we say YES to ourselves, nothing can stop us. It is my honor and life passion to accompany you on the sometimes heartbreaking, often beautiful and always sacred process of coming home to you.

And as a counselor, I want to you to give yourself the gift of support:

Increase TRUST in yourself ~ Connect with the deep knowing that you are enough, practice deep listening and learn to recognize and transform your "inner critic" and the voices of shame and self-doubt. They are trying desperately to protect you and can actually become your best ally when you renegotiate their role in your life!

Coming home to Self-love ~ As cliche as it may sound, self-love is the portal to a life of deep and meaningful connection with yourself, your calling and your relationships. Transform the barriers that get in the way of your most authentic and vibrant self. 

Creating and living the life you love ~ You are here for a reason. The world wants the medicine you and only you can provide. Tap into your life’s purpose and in mythologist Joseph Campbell’s words, "follow your bliss." Gather the courage (from the french word coeur, which means heart) to be seen and heard in what your love. I will support you in navigating this frightening and exciting exploration of falling in love with and pursuing your calling. 

Transitions ~ Discover ways of feeling connected to yourself when things fall apart (relationships, work, moves) or don't go as expected. As women, we are cyclical beings. Like the tides and the moon, nature's cycles are our greatest teachers when it comes to embracing loss and change. Dark, challenging times hold bountiful gifts. The practice of surrendering and learning to stay with the painful "muck" of life often leads to joyful transformation and freedom. Find and connect to that inner resource that is always available to you, no matter how shaky the ground beneath you feels. 

Mother daughter relationships ~ Renegotiate and set healthy, sustainable boundaries, break the shame and blame cycles. Transform caretaking into caring. Bring to light and transform beliefs that have been passed on by the generations of women who have come before you. Learn to feel the healthy outrage, honor what you've been through and nourish your own inner child from a deep well of internal resources. Forgive your mother for her shortcomings and step into co-crating a new and healthy relationship. 

The Mother Wound ~ Your mother could only love you to the extent to which she loved herself. Unknowingly, many of us are walking around looking for that deep, unconditional love that we did not get as children from someone "out there", be it our biological mother, our partner or the world as a whole. As painful as this realization can be, it is also very good news because it allows us to awaken to the reality of becoming that good enough, abundantly loving mother to ourselves. In this sometimes painful and yet immensely liberating process, we set our outer mother free and can step into being our fullest selves. Radiant, empowered and free. 

Goddess Work ~ When I was a little girl, my grandmother introduced me to Mother Mary and her boundless capacity for love and compassion. Simultaneously, my mother and I went to a Hindu temple were I met Durga, Lakshmi and other Hindu Goddess. Ever since, I have been fascinated by the archetype of the Divine Mother and have studied Her myths and presence in many cultures. In these patriarchal times, exploring Goddess mythology can offer us a powerful opportunity to awaken and connect to her various manifestations that live inside of us. Through this work, we come home to the embodied experience of feeling deeply held and empowered as we move through our lives. The Goddess is always here. Are you ready to feel her?

Being single ~ Never before in history has there been so many single women. The decision to embrace single-hood as an opportunity to get to know yourself and craft your life in a conscious and fulfilling way can be the greatest gift to yourself and others (including a future partner). In Kate Bolick's words, “Being single is like being an artist, not because creating a functional single life is an art form, but because it requires the same close attention to one's singular needs, as well as the will and focus to fulfill them. Just as the artist arranges her life around her creativity, sacrificing conventional comforts and even social acceptance, sleeping and eating according to her own rhythms, so that her talent thrives above all else, nurtured the way a child might be, so a single person has to think hard to decipher what makes her happiest and most fulfilled.” (from Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own)

Grief ~ Losing someone to death is devastating beyond words. Grief work is the work that none of us would voluntarily sign up for yet sooner all later, it comes knocking at our door.Whether you’ve lost a parent, a child or someone in your community, grief is painful and messy and requires patience, commitment and attention. I will support you in navigating the tricky terrain of loss, holding space for the often overwhelming and conflicting emotions and thoughts that tend to arise when grieving. Committing to this process can allow you to move towards creating a new way of being in relationship with your loved one. I volunteer for TRU Community Hospice leading grief groups and hold this tender work very close to my heart. 

Illness ~ "When good health feels far away, we are taken into places where our faith in life can flicker" (Francis Weller). As an unexpected visitor, illness knocks at our door. It demands to be seen and felt. Often, the more we ignore it, the louder it becomes. By slowing down and getting to know illness, we can learn a great deal about it’s message and invitation and develop a new relationship with its presence in our life. 

Navigating BIG feelings ~ Do you often feel overtaken by anxiety, anger or depression? Your feelings are messengers that want to be felt. Challenging feelings are painful to feel and we tend to develop strategies to avoid them (I get it, often they are not pleasant!). However, as you probably already know, feelings don’t go away and really want our attention. Developing a different way of being with them will soften their intensity and give space for calm and acceptance to emerge. I will provide you with tools and strategies to befriend these visitors. 

Transforming relational patterns ~ Through practicing mindful awareness, you can open to a whole new way of being with your significant other and improve your relational presence, communication skills and overall connection. 

Being a foreigner ~ Are you from a different country or have a bicultural background? If so, you have probably experienced the challenges that come with wanting to honor your roots and simultaneously wanting to foster and create a feeling of belonging to the United States. Racism, oppression, speaking a different language and feeling like you don't belong neither "back home" nor here are common themes that can impact your wellbeing. Through the use of ritual and art, you can weave the different threads of your journey and your roots and deepen your sense of belonging....to yourself.

To become or not to become a mother ~  If you are a woman in your thirties and forties, you have probably wrestled with this question. Having a safe space to explore this question, uncoupling your wants and deepest longings from societal or familial expectations can be a very illuminating and freeing process. For many women, motherhood is their calling. For others, the knowing is not as clear and exploring the possibilities of a child-full life verusu a child-free one is an important process. 

Pregnancy ~ As a pregnant woman you embody the full potential of life. Deepen your connection with the being that lives and grows within you and receive support around preparing for birth and the major changes that will come with your baby's arrival.

Mothering ~ You give birth to your children, you care deeply for them and with their arrival comes a completely new life. BIG and overwhelming feelings tend to arise in this new stage. Practicing mothering yourself while mothering your little one(s) will allow you and your family to have a fulfilling experience.

Reproductive Mental Wellness ~ Reproductive challenges affect many women and can lead to feelings of devastation and hopelessness. Emotional and psychological support can be extremely helpful when navigating these difficult times. Specific challenges can include infertility, miscarriage, abortion, high-risk pregnancy, IVF, traumatic birth, ovarian/breast cancer and postpartum anxiety and depression.

Sexuality ~ For many of us, our sexual and sensual nature is deeply connected to shame, guilt and trauma. Patriarchal messages around our bodies not being lovable and the sad reality that most of us have experienced being intruded upon have led many of us to feel unsafe and disconnect from our wise bodies. As sensual beings, an integral part of our healing is to reestablish body safety and reconnect with what feels good. From this place, we can create a new relationship with pleasure that will deepen our sense of self-love and will transform the way we open up to others. 

 

Schedule your complimentary phone consultation and work with me by clicking here.

On Loving Your Way Back to Wholeness

In a culture that is invested in making us feel constantly unlovable, it’s no surprise that many of us walk around doubting our worth. A low self esteem is usually the product of negative messages that we received at a very young age and that we’ve carried with us since, like a heavy sack of rocks. Whether it was family, school or society in general, the little girl in you convinced herself that she was flawed, never enough and somehow broken. 

The way many of us learned to cope with these painful messages was by hiding our imperfections and trying to prove the world that we were “perfect”, like hungry ghosts running around earning medals and trophies and trying bloody hard to look like magazine cover models. 

We learned to talk to ourselves with disdain and harshness and learned to reject and mistrust our bodies. The “never enough” bar constantly moving further and further up, leading us to conclude that clearly, we can’t get ir right. 

Radically, unapologetically.... YOU

Radically, unapologetically.... YOU

As I write these words my heart aches, my jaw is clenched and my heart is racing. I’m pissed off and oh so sad. Patriarchy (which I like to define as a society in which certain men make the rules and women go along without their power nor their voice being honored) really did us a number here. It convinced us that our inadequacies are real and that we are forever doomed, stuck in this hamster wheel of criticism and never enough (sadly, the media makes millions from this very real wound).

And then I remember to take a deep breathe. I place my hand on my perfectly imperfect belly and soften. HIStory does not have to be HER story, your story..our story. We can learn to rewrite it together and step into our fabulousness together. After all, as on of my dear mentors would say, we all haver an inner pearl that deserves to shine bright.

So this act of learning to love yourself and being unapologetically YOU is radical and goes against 3,000 plus years of HIStory. The word radical comes from the Latin word roots. This work asks that we go back and reconnect with our roots to reclaim a new and simultaneously very old way of being in our bodies and this sweet and fierce Mumma Earth that is our home.

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It requires deep commitment and a willingness to embrace discomfort. A willingness to sit in the fire of vulnerability and difficult emotions as we get acquainted and learn to LOVE all of those parts of yourself that you’ve been invested in getting rid of. Yes, I’m talking about the needy, the jealous, the moody, the rude, the scared, the doubtful, the flappy, the “too much”, the “not enough”, the saboteur, the raging and the highly emotional ones of you. And guess what…the more you learn to love all of these parts…the more you will set yourself FREE. Free to be your wildest and most authentic self, free to speak your truth and say your NO’s and sing your YES’s. Your freedom is contagious and will inspire others to dive into their own radical journey of reclaiming their perfectly imperfect wholeness. 

And you know what? These imperfections that you spend enormous amounts of energy (and money) criticizing and rejecting are what actually what makes you super duper lovable. I promise you so. It’s time to make peace with all of who you are and set yourself FREE..It’s time to come home to your wholeness sister. Let’s be radical…together :). 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. 

In love,

Karina Maria

** To schedule a complimentary consultation with me, click here