"Like any industry, fashion is dominated by power."
Then married to her longterm partner, internationally renowned yoga teacher and author Kathryn Budig found love for the second time in the most unexpected way. Offering her perspective on what it means to love, the founder of Aim True Yoga muses on living curiously and the complex beauty of second chances.
A year after marrying her longterm partner, international yoga star Kathryn Budig made one of the hardest decisions of her life – she filed for divorce. In the few months prior, the vibrant spokeswoman and author had met a woman whose presence answered an unconscious yearning within herself to be seen and understood. Kate Fagan was a striking brunette sports reporter who was introduced to the yoga personality at a marketing event hosted by sports label Under Armour. After several months of casual exchanges between the two women, a romance blossomed that would change Budig’s life forever. In this burgeoning amorous landscape, it was clear that the incompatibility of Budig’s marriage could no longer hold. Confronted with the mixed blessing of finding her vision of an ideal partner outside of her marriage, the influential author embarked on the most difficult journey of her life. In attempting to unearth answers to the question of what love means, Budig soon came to realise that a singular truth could not be found beyond the messy, complicated trials of experience.
You cannot burn all your energy when you have so much to give in your life.Kathryn Budig
Kathryn Budig: My fiancé (sports writer and commentator, Kate Fagan) and I met through a work event. I was sponsored by Under Armour and she was the ESPN speaker. I thought she was very striking, and we started talking every day. I was married at the time and falling in love with a woman had never crossed my mind. It was completely unexpected, and it was the most beautiful surprise of my entire life. It was also a big wakeup call to how unhappy I had been in my marriage, and how I had numbed myself to my unhappiness. You’re told that getting married is the pinnacle and that if you get married, you’ve found success. If I had gone in with what I thought love should look like when I met her, I wouldn’t have been able to see her in that way.
KB: If you get caught up with what you think love looks like you will be wrong. It just comes from the most unexpected places. I think we’re trained to make lists of the perfect person, down to how many languages they speak. While I understand honing in on intention, think about the number of people you’re going to push away if you think it’s that specific. Now I tell people to keep their eyes and heart open to anything, everything and to stay open to your connection with people. Don’t think it looks like a certain person, or experience, or gender, or age, or house, or a number of babies. Love is always changing. Love is full of success, love is full of failure- it is cyclical, it is infinite, and it is a beautiful constantly moving energy that is constantly surrounding us. Even if you feel you don’t have any in your life, it is there. Trust it is there.
KB: I think a good partner is someone who is absolutely willing to communicate and listen to you and to speak about it with you when emotions come up.
KB: Talking. It is truly a way of getting to know who you are and what makes you happy. In love, talk as much as possible. I think a lot of us feel bad about the way we naturally feel because we’re told that it’s not right. So we push it down and we push it down, and we turn into crazy animals. What I’ve done and what I’ve seen in relationships. If you don’t speak about what hurts you, and what’s not right in a relationship, and these feelings fester and build up resentment. Then one day you’ll randomly blow up at one another. But it’s so easily prevented. If we took the time to say ‘hey, I’m going to voice my frustrations’, it helps. It doesn’t totally fix it, but at least you can have a real conversation instead of this suppressed, explosive bottle rocket that’s just waiting to explode. If we spoke more about our feelings with radical honesty, we will be much better people for ourselves and for the people who rely on us. You cannot burn all your energy when you have so much to give in your life.
KB: Like Yoga, there are seasons to love. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re going through one of those dry spells. Give yourself a break and just know it’s going to be there for you when you’re ready to come back.
KB: Saying “I choose this because I’d like to be happy” is the most liberating and empowering thing you can do for yourself. I have had a lot of people reach out to me saying they felt stuck in their marriages and in their relationships. They know they’re not happy but they’ve been in it for so long they don’t know how to get out. They ask me “how can you possibly start over when you’ve done something for so long?”. It’s absolutely possible, and you will be happier on the other side, but you just have to emotionally prepare yourself for a phase that will be prickly, sticky and murky. But it will also be one of the most intense and amazing soul searching experiences of your entire life.
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KB: With love, I believe it’s all in the timing. I’m grateful for my marriage. I wouldn’t have seen Kate in the same way had I not had the previous experience of my marriage. I do believe it all happens for a reason. It’s a journey. Relationships aren’t supposed to be perfect. You’re two humans who love each other deeply which means you’re going to push each other’s buttons. I feel I’m so sensitive to her because I love her so much, I just want her approval. The times I really freak out is when I feel I’m not getting her approval or when I think she doesn’t see me. But I continue to learn something new from her every day. She’s taught me to open up much more, she’s taught me to think much more, to really see perspectives I never knew expected. She truly challenges me.
KB: The biggest thing that I’m tackling in my life right now is this concept of happiness versus success and the correlation between the two. I realise that for so long, my definition of happiness was success. I believed I had to be successful in order to achieve happiness. I cared what my parents and society thought about me and how I wanted to be viewed. It’s also complicated being a yoga teacher, because when you sit next to someone on a plane and they ask, “what do you do?”, and you’ll very often get that sympathetic, “ohhh.. Soo..what does your partner do for a living that sustains you?”. Society deems a successful woman as, ‘the woman who does everything’, and it’s not who we are at the core. I don’t want to be that woman. I don’t need to do everything.
If I choose things that really make me happy in my life, that is what I call being successful. It may be my own interpretation, and I’m learning very quickly that the things that make me happy are not glossy or sexy to the outside world, and that’s absolutely okay. I’m still learning to say how I feel in the moment. It’s a journey and relationships aren’t supposed to be perfect. To me right now, happiness is home and creating my world there.
Kathryn Budig is a former Under Armour spokesperson and currently co-hosts ESPN’s podcast, Free Cookies with her partner Kate Fagan. She teaches regular online classes on Yogaglo.com, and is the founder of her animal project, Poses for Paws. She is also the creator of the Aim True Yoga DVD produced by Gaiam, author of books The Women’s Health Big Book of Yoga and Aim True.
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