Browsing Tag

husband

Guest Posts, Intimacy, Sex

Sex, Intimacy, and Genetic Incompatibility

April 28, 2017
intimacy

By Becky Benson

The first time it happened I thought it was great.  Easier, less messy, a change up from the norm.  Win/win for me.  I didn’t particularly like condoms; the feel, the smell, the timeout in the heat of the moment while fumbling over a loudly crackling wrapper.  How romantic.  And I’m sure my husband was no fan of them, but it did make it better for me once we were done.  He’d just pull it off and toss it in the trash.  I didn’t have to lay there waiting for him to throw me his t-shirt to clean up with, I could just happily roll over and drift off to sleep.

The only problem with this scenario:  we needed them, which made it feel less like a novelty, a change up from the norm, and more like a reminder of what we were now facing, and how in so many ways, our relationship; our sex life would never be the same.

In 2009 my husband, Loren and I had been happily married for six and a half years.  Loving, committed, stable.  We had two beautiful daughters, Skylar, five, and Miss Elliott, ten months, when we learned that we were carriers of Tay-Sachs Disease.  We had no idea this genetic mutation existed in our lineage or that we had passed it on to our youngest daughter, who at this point was beginning to shows signs of missing her milestones as she grew.  Watching my seemingly healthy infant unable to master age appropriate tasks such as crawling, holding her bottle, and or imitating our speech, I suspected something much more was going on beside the usual variances in development, and unfortunately I was right.  With no treatment or cure, this neurodegenerative disorder would rob her of all of her physical and mental functioning before finally taking her life by the age of four. Continue Reading…

Binders, cancer, Guest Posts

Twisted Sheets and Gaping Holes

June 7, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Rebecca Chamaa

I am in the middle of my second breast cancer scare.  Last year at this time, I was going through numerous tests, mammograms, ultrasounds, and visits to specialists.  There were the phone calls, “Well we didn’t find anything, but we want you to get another test.”  There was the waiting.  There was my heart that races the speed of a marathon runner whenever I enter a doctor’s office.  Again, there was the waiting.

In the midst of all of that, and again today, I think about dying.  Mostly I think about my husband.  What will our bed look like if I no longer take the right half?  He jokingly asks me often, “What do you do while you sleep to get the bedcovers to look like that?  It’s a mess.  They are all twisted.”  If I die, will he wake to a bed that only needs a little adjusting to be perfectly made?

The hole that either of our absences would leave in this house is like a crater – it couldn’t be walked around, it couldn’t be ignored, it would be unavoidable, and all consuming.  The edges would be where the rest of our life was hanging, hanging over an opening that would threaten to swallow the one left behind.  Swallow?  How would either of us eat again after sharing all our dinners at the little table built for two?

I told my husband yesterday, that if I have cancer, and I am dying, that it isn’t all bad.  “I want to die before you,” I said.  “What?”  He asked.  “That is so selfish.  Okay, you can die before me, but not now.  Not this young.  I want to retire.  I want to go places.  I have plans.  No, you can’t die this young.  Not now.” Continue Reading…

Binders, Guest Posts

Dendrochronology (The Study of Rings.)

February 28, 2015

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By Gayle Brandeis.

The first boy to give me a ring, at least part of one, was Timmy Murakami. He left an “I like you and I hope you like me” note in my third grade locker, a note that suggested we go for a walk by Lake Michigan together. Along with drawing little YES and NO squares for me to mark, he had folded the bottom left corner of the wide ruled notebook paper into a sharp triangle, and had tucked a little yellow plastic heart inside, clear and pale, like lemon candy. It looked like it had fallen off a ring, prismatic like a diamond, a bit of adhesive still on its back. I never replied to the note—too shy—but sometimes I would set the gem on top of my ring finger and feel a rush through my body I couldn’t quite name, an admixture of quease and thrill.

*

The first thing I ever stole was a Chicago Bears ring. I didn’t mean to steal it. I had tried it on in the gift shop at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, where my family often went for Sunday brunch, a lavish spread of ice sculptures and lox and tiny fussy desserts, live piano music accompanying the hiss of butter from the omelet station. My sister and I loved to go to the gift shop and look at the snow globes holding the Chicago skyline, the activity books that came with invisible ink pens, the bins of candy and playing cards, the Buckingham Fountain keychains. I forgot the ring was on my finger when we left the store to get another plate of tiny, fussy desserts, didn’t notice it until we were back at home and my shirt snagged on it as I changed into my pajamas. My heart started to hammer. It was an ugly ring, the Chicago Bears logo huge and garish. I hated football. It was not a ring I ever would have asked my parents to buy for me. I had no idea why I had even chosen to try it on. But here it was. I was a criminal. There must be some badness in me I hadn’t known I possessed. I felt guilty, but also slightly excited, maybe even a little proud—a good girl like me getting away with theft. I yanked the ring off my finger and hid it deep inside my underwear drawer, where only I could feel its shameful glow. Continue Reading…

death, Grief, healing, Letting Go

This Broke My Heart. Please Read & Share & Remember This Incredible Moment Is All We’ve Got.

June 8, 2014

I just got this email and my heart is breaking. I met Tiana when she came to my April Dallas workshop.

We’ve got to be here now, guys. Nothing is guaranteed. Ever!

We all know this. We know it but we forget sometimes, don’t we? I do. That something can just happen in the blink of an eye and like that- all is changed. I want Tiana to feel that a million people are wrapping their arms around her. I believe in the power of social media. For things like this. She will be checking this and reading the messages to her. Let’s do this. Leave her comments and share this please.

Also: go hug someone you love a little longer. Say I love you.

Please post a note for her below as she will read it. This was the email she sent me this afternoon, shared with permission:
“My name is Tiana Harris. I was in dallas, came from Oklahoma. We met in the parking lot. I lost my husband last week in a car accident. He rolled his jeep on his way to work. Just an ordinary day and then the wind stopped blowing. It’s Oklahoma, it never stops. It was still for three stagnate stifling days. I swear he took it with him. He was a Gemini after all. This is so confusing, there’s this extreme sense of emptiness and loss. I feel it with every breath. Every time I walk into a room I expect to see him, or to hear his voice. I stand at the sink and anticipate his hands or lips on my neck. But it doesn’t come and it’s not going to. Through this tragedy I’ve realized what an amazingly beautiful tribe I have built for myself. The outpouring of love has been completely overwhelming in the best possible way. Thank you for your inspiration. I’m finding my feet and I’m still beauty hunting. I appreciate your writing, I appreciate your rawness. Thank you for sharing yourself. Love, T”

 

*You can also post a comment for her on my Facebook page under this picture.

 

 

 

 

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Jennifer Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. She fiercely believes in the power of a tribe. Let’s show Tiana what love is RIGHT NOW.

funny, Guest Posts

Competing With An iPhone 5 For My Wife’s Attention.

January 31, 2014

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By Randall Sokoloff

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Before my wife acquired her iPhone 5, she and I shared a lot of moments together. Those were the “good old days.” I look back upon those pre-iPhone 5 days with the same kind of fond nostalgic pondering that I sometimes get lost in when thinking about my youth. I remember how we used to do things together and talk. While driving, eating, walking, hanging out on the couch, gardening, sitting by the pool- we were always engaged in some kind of conversation. We looked into each other’s eyes at least a hundred times a day and it felt good knowing that her attention was consistently focused on me.

Then came the iPhone 5.

I was concerned from the start. Not so much because I was worried that the iPhone 5 would take her mind away from me. No, I did not see that coming. I was worried because I knew that such advanced technology in the palm of a person’s hand had the potential to turn a person away from their own inherit creativity and imagination and as a result turn them into a kind of replaceable, information driven, socially networked, zoned out automaton. I was also concerned that the continual exposure to the strong digital glare that emanates from smart phone screen would somehow have a detrimental effect on her beautiful face.

The iPhone 5 made its entry into our marriage gradually. The first month or so that she had the phone I did not notice it showing up on our walks, in our bed, at our dinner table, on our couch, in our car or by the pool. She seemed to use it with the mindful detachment and caution that is necessary to keep such a functional, simplified and aesthetically pleasing device from taking over every aspect of a person’s life.

But like a tree gradually shedding leaves in the fall, the iPhone 5 and my wife started to become more and more dependent on one another as the days passed by. At first she was using iCalendar to take care of her work schedule. Then she was using the Facebook app to access her Facebook account. Then she stopped using her computer to check and send her emails and began to only use her phone to do this. I now realize that it was bad advice on my part, but because I was not yet hip to how I would soon be in competition with an iPhone 5, I recommended that my wife try out the kindle app and read books and magazines on her iPhone. Of course she loved the idea and ever since has been absorbed in reading novels and magazines from the convenience of her iPhone. This is how it happens. In no time your entire universe exists inside your phone. Friends, movies, books, articles, emails, work, photos, music, meditation and copious amounts of information. I didn’t see it coming.

While lying in bed at night my wife would often come on to me. As I was reading, I became familiar with the sensation of her fingers tiptoeing their way under my sweat pants. Now before going to sleep for the night her fingers are pre-occupied with holding, fiddling with and maneuvering her iPhone 5. It has been almost a month since she has come on to me before bed. When we sit on the couch or outside by the pool she is staring into the screen of her iPhone 5 looking at something, reading something or shopping for something. Other than a few fragmented sentences- there is not much said between us. Same goes for when we are sitting at a dinner table or are out at a cafe- she is on her iPhone 5 and I am trying not to be offended. I am lucky if she looks in my eyes more than a dozen times a day.

Have you ever tried telling someone who does something or uses something all the time that they are addicted to that something? If you have you are probably familiar with the angry, hostile, defensive and bitter response that I receive. When I tell my wife that she is using her iPhone 5 way too much she immediately fires back: “That is not true at all, I have barley been on it at all today, I am not on my phone that much.” She seems to really believe what she is saying, but from my perspective she is in total denial of reality. I realize that when we are in love or dependent on something, time stands still when we are with that something or someone. But just because there is a feeling of timelessness when my wife uses her iPhone 5 does not mean that she is not using it that much. She is on it all the time!

So now I am in competition with the iPhone 5 for my wife’s attention. It seems that whenever I ask her to put her phone away and focus on being present with me she becomes deeply agitated and as a result, so do I. I try not to do this unless it is absolutely necessary. I try and start conversations and get her interested in things that I have to say that she may find more interesting than the stuff she is reading or watching on her phone. The only two topics that really succeed in doing this are sex and dogs and I have a limited supply of things to say when it comes to sex and dogs.

I understand that this is the direction that relationships are heading in. I realize that the future is a place where husband and wife spend more time on their smart phones than they do looking in to one another’s eyes. I realize that deep and constant conversation between a couple is an endangered species and the future will consist of couples having the most general, basic and superficial communication exchanges because they are too absorbed in the universe of their smart phones. As human beings we seem to be evolving further and further away from one another and more and more into the compact space of a digital screen. I have been debating giving in to this evolutionary trend and going out and getting myself an iPhone 5. Why not get with the times? My grandfather always used to say, “If you can’t beat em, join em” and maybe this applies in this particular situation. Maybe I should just hop on the train and head in the same direction as human evolution (or de-evolution depending on who you talk to) is taking so many other married couples. Then maybe I won’t spend so much time, sitting there, staring up at the sky and waiting for my wife to get off her iPhone 5.

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Randall Sokoloff is a fiction writer, artist, mindfulness instructor and psychotherapist living in the smoggy suburbs of Los Angeles California. Randall was an inner city high school teacher for over a decade and started the first Bay Area Mindfulness program for violent youth in Oakland, California. This began his journey as a psychotherapist. He prefers being over doing, living in the moment over worrying about the future, breathing over thinking and dogs over cats. Randall has had the good fortune to marry his soul mate whom he considers to be a wonderful writer, artist, lover, cook and psychotherapist but he also feels like it would be great if she was not on her iPhone so much. Randall’s blog can be found at: www.absurdistry.wordpress.com

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Contact Rachel Pastiloff for health coaching, weight loss, strategies, recipes, detoxes, cleanses or help getting off sugar. Click here.

Contact Rachel Pastiloff for health coaching, weight loss, strategies, recipes, detoxes, cleanses or help getting off sugar. Click here.

 Do you want the space and joy to get back into your body? To get into your words and stories? Then join Lidia Yuknavitch and Jennifer Pastiloff in this unique long weekend to do just that. The "Writing and The Body Retreat II."


Do you want the space and joy to get back into your body?
To get into your words and stories? Then join Lidia Yuknavitch and
Jennifer Pastiloff in this unique long weekend to do just that.
The “Writing and The Body Retreat II.”

Beating Fear with a Stick, Inspiration

Listen: This Is Your LIfe.

February 24, 2013

I am about to drown. There’s a tidal wave. I am in someone’s house or apartment and the ocean is rushing through windows and walls. There’s water rising. The fear is imminent. I am about to die.

I wake up. Sometimes I am soaked from sweating in my sleep and sometimes I am upright in my bed as if I’d never even laid down to begin with a few hours prior, as if I simply sat in bed with closed eyes and let the water come charging at me. As if I said I don’t need to lie down to drown.

Sometimes I wake shivering. When you sweat in your sleep you wake up freezing. A wet dog.

Maybe the water wasn’t actually my sweat. Maybe my dreams are so powerful that they sneak through whatever dream-barrier exits and enter my body like a thief. I taste it to double check. It’s salty. Sea water? Sweat? Who’s to say?

I wake up before I die each time. I remember those old myths I would hear as a kid. You can’t die in your dreams. I don’t know. Who’s to say? I am mostly drowning in them.

The cliché gets to me. How can I have such an uninteresting clichéd recurring nightmare? I am ashamed of my mind’s lack of creativity when it comes to this.

I’ve had this dream, or a version of this dream for as long as I can remember. I’m drowning.

I don’t understand where all this water is coming from or how I can stop it from swallowing me. I don’t understand the sky or the sea or which is which in these dreams. I look up and down but there are no clues as to which is the sky and which is not. It doesn’t matter. It’s after me.

Last night, as my husband kissed me, I started to have a panic attack. Babe! I snapped, are you trying to suffocate me? My heart started beating and I felt the water rising. I was dying and he wouldn’t stop until I pushed him away. I felt horrible immediately but the drowning was real I am not sure what would have happened if I hadn’t pushed him away.

His best friend and cousin died last week, the same day as Ronan. Ronan was 2 and a half and Amir was in his fifties. Ronan had been suffering and his parents had been watching him die for 2 years. Amir was driving a tow truck and had had a heart attack. He died before he crashed it into a parked car, his wife, in St. Louis, sat waiting for him to text him back.

I wasn’t there for my husband (or for Ronan’s mother Emily Rapp) as I was leading my retreat in Maui but I know it was incredibly hard for him. The wife flew out and wailed in his arms as he drove them around the city and to the coroner’s office and to eat Persian sandwiches in Westwood.

So last night, when he was kissing me, I got that he was expressing his relief that I was still a person in the world. That I had not gone and he would prove it by smothering me. I felt bad for saying that to him and he said Well, I was smothering you a bit.

He was.

The thing is, I always have a problem with kissing. I used to think it was an intimacy thing but it’s not. I don’t know what I believe in when it comes to past lives but I feel like I can’t breathe when someone’s mouth is on mine. I am dying. Water is rushing at me and I am falling into a pillow or there is a pillow on my face and finally Oh My God! I can’t breathe!

Don’t read into it too much. I wasn’t sexually abused or anything like that. I have to be kissed in just the right most perfect way so that I don’t feel like I am drowning.

Hugging makes me feel safe and kissing makes me feel like dying most of the time.

I woke up feeling so guilty this morning. Apologizing over coffee. Hugging my husband. Kissing his face. My husband understands me and hopefully didn’t take it personally but it was a pure unadulterated panic attack last night. The sea water was in my throat. My lungs collapsed. I was gone.

Why do we take on so much all the time? So many things that don’t belong to us. So many oceans.

That ocean rushing at me business, that’s my life. I think it’s going to eat me sometimes. Or sometimes I think I am trying to swallow it all at once and you absolutely cannot do that. It’s too much. You have to pause and breathe.

And breathe.

And breathe.

So maybe there is no past life drowning and no claustrophobia. Maybe there is just I am not breathing because if I breathe this will all go away or if I breathe this will all come so fast and I won’t be able to control it.

You cannot control the ocean.

I save myself in my tidal waves dream but oftentimes I can’t save my sister or my mom. My dad is never in them. I don’t know if it means I have forgotten him or that he doesn’t need saving. Regardless, he is absent. I save myself but I cannot save my family from the ocean.

You cannot control the ocean or the life or the family.

You cannot save anyone.

I shoot up in my bed and feel my arms and they are there and my husband’s body and he is awake because I am awake. I’ve had a nightmare. Everyone is drowning. I can’t save anyone.

The magic words: I love you. You are not drowning. You are safe. Do not worry about anything. You are safe he says.

Yesterday I sent out a newsletter which wasn’t really a newsletter but rather my essay I had written on the plane Friday night called What Will Never Go Up In Smoke. It went viral on Facebook and I thought I would share with my mailing list. I got some heartfelt and beautiful responses. One woman said that my writing always made her want to do better. (Wow!) Then, I got an email from someone in the spiritual community that simply said one word. Unsubscribe. (Wow!)

And there it is. I am about to drown. There’s a tidal wave. I am in someone’s house or apartment and the ocean is rushing through windows and walls. There’s water rising. The fear is imminent. I am about to die. I can’t wake up because I am awake.

I am awake.

I breathe. I breathe and after a while the fear is gone. The hurt is there but the fear is gone. It didn’t kill me, that one little word. It felt mean and hurtful but I didn’t die. I sat staring at my phone feeling embarrassed but I didn’t die. I pinched myself a little and it was as it always was: I was human. I was still there on my bed, my messy blankets and pillows and books and I was still human. I hadn’t been turned to stone by that word nor had it suffocated me.

The fear must have gotten trapped in my body as it was looking for a way out. Last night when my husband was kissing me and I felt like I was drowning, it was because the fear had nowhere to go.

My body was afraid it would always know that fear.

But then he is saying You are safe.

And I was. I was in my bed, safe. And the word unsubscribe was just a word and the ocean was 9 blocks away and anyone I love has to save themselves and fear is a goddamned bastard.

The imminent fear. Of drowning. Of people not surviving. Of what others think. Of breathing. Of living. Of dying. It’s everywhere, really. If you look.

It’s as big as the ocean and beyond and it will get you if you stop paying attention.

Listen: that is your breath. Listen: that is my breath. Listen: that is the wind.

Listen. This is your life.

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Inspiration

How Do You Define Success?

May 17, 2012

How Do You Define Success?

I was sitting on the couch with my husband a few nights ago and I looked over at him and asked him: Did you have any idea, when we started dating, that I’d be this successful?

My hand quickly shot over my mouth.

For so many reasons.

1) Dare I say out loud that I was successful? Let alone ‘this’ successful?

2) Was I even successful? I had never said that out loud. Or really, thought it, for that matter.

3) How can I be successful if I don’t have a lot of money?

I knew a blog post was being born.

He looked over at me and said: I knew you had potential.

He was being facetious. And yet, he wasn’t.

I was waitressing at The Newsroom Cafe, and had been for 13 years and suffering from depression and miserable when we started dating. Truly not the Jen I am today. She was in there, somewhere, buried under the layers of  black aprons, but it was deep under the dust of restaurant smells.

Here’s our story in a nutshell because, well, it isn’t the point. So I will abbreviate it.

We met 15 years ago.

My first love had just dumped me and I had a nervous breakdown, or close to it, while I was living in New York City. I relived my father dying like a big fat cliche and felt abandoned and scared and so I moved to California where my mom and sister had just moved a year prior. (By the way, we had moved there once before after my dad died when I was in the 4th grade and then moved back to NJ again when I was in 8th grade. In that time we lived in California, I made friends for life, starting acting and was even on Punky Brewster.) Moving back to NJ felt like a cruel joke to me at age 13 and 8th grade was borderline suicidal for me. Not a joke.

I got over it and fell in love.

Cutting back to the New York years: first love dumps me and I move back to California (mom and sister had moved back the year before for reasons I still do not know and I followed suit.) We were like the crazy Jewish traveling gypsy women who only traveled between LA and South Jersey.

My mom had this studio on Robertson Blvd in West Hollywood which she rented out to actors and acting teachers and movie makers and other Hollywood types. She called me and said she had a writer she’d wanted me to meet him and, that, oh yea, she was dating Neil Diamond.

Yes, Neil effing Diamond.

(I still have the Harley Davidson leather jacket he gave me for Hannukah that year.)

We met at Newsroom Cafe on Robertson near her studio. (Yes, the Newsroom I would go on to work at for 13 years.) We met and I looked older than I do now because I was so anorexic and pale, and Robert, the writer my mom wanted me to meet looked: nice.

He was nice. Which, for me, at 21, meant one thing: boring.

I started working at The Newsroom Cafe.  He sent me roses.

I didn’t know they were from him because I thought him far too shy and too nice to do such a bold thing so I was stumped as to who “the Robert” was who sent me roses to work.

He called and asked if I got said flowers.

Eeek! Yes I did get flowers and I just want to be friends, I said like the 21 year old I was.

(Did I really say that?)

For brevity sake I will cut to years later. About ten years.

I am still working at Newsroom. He comes in. I recognize him straight away. (I have a photographic memory. People would come in to the cafe to eat in 1999 and in 2005 I’d wait on them again and ask if they wanted the chicken pot pie again?)

He looks cute, I remember thinking, I’ll go over.

He says he remembers me but cannot remember my name.

Yea right.

I think he is lying about not remembering my name. ( I still think he was. He still denies. Although now, being married I see he has a horrible memory and he probably was NOT lying.)

Long story short, we went out for dinner, and after dinner, sitting in his car, I knew I was going to marry him.

True?

Yes. Very true.

I married him.

He tells me now that he waited for me all those years.

So yes, he saw potential.

But all those years I was stuck and depressed and we would have never made it. I had to go through what I went through and meet him again to fully blossom.

So here we are on our couch. In our apartment. Where we live. I have my hand over my mouth in shock because I actually said out loud that I am successful.

We are taught to not say that. Or that we are beautiful.

Aren’t we taught that? Even subconsciously?

What does success even mean?

I no longer wait tables. I am happy. I have fun. I am sitting on the sofa next to the man I love watching Modern Family. I get paid to do what I love.

I have only been teaching yoga and doing what I do for 3 years. Barely 3 years.

And here I am.

You are reading my blog.

Am I successful?

I am to me.

Is my nephew who has Prader Willi Syndrome and Autism successful even though his ‘milestones’ are different than other kids his age? (Answer: yes.)

Is my friend who does play after play successful even though she still has to have two waitressing jobs? (Answer: yes.)

Who or what measures success?

Does success mean money? (Answer: no.)

Are we supposed to acknowledge our own success? (Answer: Sure, why not.)

You see, my husband always believed in me. He did! From the moment he met me, when I was 21 and anorexic and lost and scared to now. He may not have remembered my name all those years later but he most certainly remembered who I was.

Even though I had forgotten.

He had an unwavering faith in me when I had no faith in myself. It took years to come back to him because I was not ready.

I am ready now.

I am ready for success.

And let me explain what I mean when I say success.

I mean love.

I am ready for love.

 

In the comment section below write down how you define success. Also feel free to add what you are ready for in your own life. Finish the sentence: To me success is ____________.