Episode 016: Tatum Fjerstad

Episode 016: Tatum Fjerstad

The Power of Practice

When Tatum Fjerstad and I spoke, she had just moved in with her partner in Minneapolis less than a week before. She has known her now boyfriend for sixteen years but only recently reconnected with him. As she shares the story of the rekindling of their connection to one another, she reflects that their relationship is “one of the many really wonderful manifestations of all the work that [she’s] done in the last couple of years to step away from always looking at the external for approval, for instruction, for advice.” She is wildly aware that her new partnership comes from setting up a lot of boundaries and letting go of her tendency to people please, which she needed to do before her boyfriend was able to come back into her life in a real way.

Tatum is a yoga instructor, website designer, and copy editor. She created Move > Sit > Write, a program that fuses yoga, meditation, and writing into a short morning routine designed to help people better connect with themselves and the world around them. Tatum originally created this project as a means for her to learn how to come back home and be steady in her own heart, but she has since taken to teaching it to eager students all over the country.

The beginning of our conversation starts with Tatum sharing that she grew up in a very religious home. From a young age she was “taught that [her] internal gut instincts were sinful and rooted in [a] really dirty thing and that [she] needed to be reprogrammed and give up everything to trust something else.” This is a reminder to me that for so many of us, we are taught from the beginning that we don’t have the answers we are looking for about our own thoughts, feelings, and instincts inside of ourselves. Tatum, with her short curly hair and bubbly demeanor, notes how much she has relied on her curiosity as a means of bringing her back to herself.

In terms of living with a partner, this is not Tatum’s first rodeo. When she was 24, she gave up her dream to live in New York in order to move in with her then boyfriend. I am now curious how her recent move feels different from other times she’s attempted the same thing. Without a moment’s hesitation she reflects on how “easy and soft and warm” it is, how she is “not disillusioned by the fact that relationships are work and that work is not bad.” We discuss how relationships have a way of helping to support inner reflection, looking into ourselves to try and understand why we are having a reaction to someone that we love. She notes:

“We have such an attachment in the wellness community to this idea of letting go that we don’t make space or sometimes we refuse to make space for the understanding that our past is all we have. It is the lens through which we are seeing the things that are happening to us right now.”

At this point in our conversation, Tatum dives into the parts of her past in which she lost touch with her intuition: working for her “ideal” company, a complicated relationship she had with a mentor she put on a pedestal, and a love affair with alcohol. She says, “These three things were the source of both my pain—the numbing out of my pain, or walking away from my pain, or shoveling blame to someone else about my pain—and then a source of joy and growth. And it was really confusing.”

The complication of these three things all at once was the impetus that led Tatum to slowly start to create a ritual of self-care that included: meditation, journaling, and moving her body every morning. Over time, she turned it into a nonnegotiable part of her day, which led her to slowly realign with her inner compass, see things as they truly are, and let go of the things that were not serving her (including her dream job, ideal mentor, and addiction). She notes:

“This practice that I have is not innovative by any means. [A lot of people] do [this] stuff in the morning and then go out and heal themselves or decide they need a therapist or a life coach or someone else to help them along the way.”

We then begin to discuss the concept of “enoughness” and what it means to be enough for Tatum individually. Excitedly, Tatum replies:

“For me… I don’t know if it has words. It’s this new sensation that I experience in my body that is really warm and is really safe and it’s a very new thing for me to have that feeling of safety. … I’m free to feel angry and to feel really happy and sad and confused and tired. So tired. And you know, I’m free to set boundaries. I’m free to honor those boundaries. I’m free to change them, you know? And that to me is this fluctuating enoughness. … It’s sort of always there as I am human.”

Soon after, our conversation circles back to when Tatum and her now live-in boyfriend reconnected after five years of being out of touch. She describes that first night of seeing him, sharing her story with wild vulnerability, and having her story be met without judgment but rather a big, open heart. She notes, “[I] would not have been able to reflect like that and share those five years had I not been writing things down a little bit every day and reflecting and sitting and stretching and spending time with myself. … I just want as many people as possible to be able to experience this feeling right now because I feel more alive right now than ever.”

As our interview comes to an end, Tatum pauses to share tangible ways to integrate a practice of moving, sitting, and writing into every day. She keeps things simple, encouraging you to start with a stretch or two, close your eyes, name three things that you are feeling in your body, write the sensations down on paper. Then take it all in with big, deep breaths. It may sound like nothing, but I know too well how important these small steps lead to long lasting sustainable changes. And perhaps you too will find that creating space and a practice for just you inspires you to step out into the world as your truest self.

Tatum Fjerstad is a recovering people pleaser who also teaches yoga, meditation, and writing while refusing to work a desk job. She designs websites for wellness folks, ghostwrites books, and edits copy for magazines. She's super passionate about a project she calls MOVE > SIT > WRITE, which fuses yoga, meditation, and writing into a short morning routine designed to help people better connect with themselves and the world around them. She just wants to help human beings be better at being human.

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