Browsing Tag


Guest Posts, Manifestation Retreats, Retreats/Workshops, travel

How To Manifest Under The Tuscan Sun With Jen Pastiloff.

October 15, 2016

First, discover Jennifer Pastiloff accidentally. This is after the boyfriend leaves, after the mom gets cancer, and after you start asking Is this all there is? Let her crack you open in a crowded Manhattan yoga studio, show her your broken heart, read to her your list of fears, and let her place a hand on your knee and lean in closer. You will sit like that for awhile, with her hand on your knee and all of your tears puddling on the mat. The woman next to you will place a hand on your back, someone will offer you a box of tissues, you’ll hear a voice nearby say It’s ok, I got you. You’ll find that this is what Jennifer creates: space to be heard, space to listen.

Fallinloveable. She’ll say in her deep and raw voice, That’s what you are. Fuck yeah. Completely Fallinloveable. She says it in a way that makes you believe it too. It happens just like that. Then, you laugh through the tears, something Jennifer calls “letting the snot fly”, and the feeling of connectedness will cocoon itself around you.

Months later, you might forget how fallinloveable you are and you’ll scroll through Jennifer’s Instagram feed searching for a reminder. She will be there telling you not to be an asshole, especially to yourself. She will post pictures of her retreat in Italy and you will sit at your desk every lunch period swiping over images of people laughing, drinking wine, and dancing. The pictures alone ignite something inside of you, you will call it hope. You decide to go despite a full-time job with little vacation time and your lack of money. Listen, because this part is important: start with willingness, even if you don’t know how you will ever get the time off of work or the money in the bank, begin with willingness to believe in possibility, willingness to be transformed. Trust me. The rest will take care of itself.

Then, something like this will happen:

You will arrive in a van filled with strangers. Driving down a narrow, dusty road in the Tuscan countryside, you’ll find yourself equal parts nervous and excited. As you pull up to the sprawling villa, all of you will promptly and unanimously decide that none of the photos do it justice. Jennifer will meet you in the main room outside of the kitchen and insist that you take a tour right that minute. Go. Drop all of your heavy bags and follow her.

In fact, that’s pretty much good life advice: Drop the heavy shit weighing you down and let Jennifer Pastiloff show you how to stand in awe and wonder.

You’ll find one perfect-for-napping-writing-and-manifesting-nook after another, a large, dimly lit wine cellar, a gym, and several uniquely beautiful bedrooms with wooden windows that open to postcard-worthy views. You can even see the rolling Tuscan hills from the bathrooms. Take a minute to really see all of the beauty and notice how even the air smells different, fresher, full of hope. Consider this practice because Jennifer will ask you to hunt for beauty all week. She won’t ask you to take yourself too seriously or even yoga for that matter. Actually, least of all yoga. But. She will ask you to listen, to say yes, to sit in your discomfort, and to sit in the discomfort of others. This is the work, she’ll say, not turning away from someone’s pain, from their vulnerability.

You will remember the box of tissues at your feet in the crowded Manhattan yoga studio, the warmth of a stranger’s hand on your heaving back. You will watch Jennifer untie knots in your new friends and you know what you will do? Put a hand on their back, hand them tissues, and tell them I got you. I got you.

This is what Jennifer creates: space. Safe, open space. She asks you only to bring your willingness and a journal. Then, she listens. She listens with no agenda and no judgement. This is why it all works. Because we all begin listening to one another simply to hear, to understand, to say I got you, I got you. Don’t get me wrong, there is as much laughter as there is crying, as many heartfelt secrets being shared as there are dirty jokes, for every long, beautiful hour of quiet, there is another of loud, magical conversation around the dinner table, there is as much dancing as there is … well, there is a lot of dancing.

So, if you are wondering if you should go, just go. You don’t need to go looking for transformation, you don’t need to be sad or lost or grieving to go. You, right now where you are, can be delighted with your life, you may be filled to the brink with gratitude. Go. Share it. Show up with what you have wherever you are and let Jennifer greet you at the door, take you by the hand, and say How unbelievable is this? You won’t know whether she is talking about the view or her hand in yours or this moment in your life and it won’t really matter anyway.

Go. I got you. We all do.


Lexi Weber is a writer, certified health coach, and newbie World traveler. Currently, she is writing at home in Annapolis, Maryland, but she always has her suitcase packed and ready to go. You can find pictures of her latest travels and smoothie bowls on her Instagram account @_lexiweber_ and read more of her writing at


Join Jen Pastiloff in Tuscany June 17-24, 2016 by clicking the photo above. Please send an email to letting us know why you would like to attend.

Join Jen Pastiloff in Tuscany June 17-24, 2016 by clicking the photo above and putting down a non-refundable deposit. Please send an email to letting us know why you would like to attend.


Join Jen Pastiloff in Tuscany Sep 9-16, 2016. Please send an email to letting us know why you want to attend. Click the photo above to put down your non-refundable deposit.

Join Jen Pastiloff in Tuscany Sep 9-16, 2016. Please send an email to letting us know why you want to attend. Click the photo above to put down your non-refundable deposit.

Guest Posts, Self Image, Vulnerability

Becoming My Own Midwife.

May 29, 2014

By Celeste Gurevich.

Let me share with you what it feels like to be loved back to yourself. To your True Self.

To live each day with a partner who loves and values every piece of you–even the ugly ones. Not in spite of them, but through them. One who has the integrity to point out when my inner child, still playing with fire, tries to self-sabotage the woman I strive to be. Or the ways I play out the story of myself projected onto me by others. Toxic overlays. I shred them piece by piece, his mirror reflecting the iridescent shimmer of my soul beneath layers of soot.

I learned to survive by quilting myself with breathe, blood, bones, and stories.

Panel by panel, saturated remnants of all of the Celestes I have ever been. The stitches laden with the scent of early Spring daphnes, garden-fresh basil a licorice-y labor of loving hands. The eternal tang of salty Pacific Ocean air. In the warp and weft of fiber, the scars, each with its own tale to tell.

Listen carefully and you will hear the music that moves me. You will feel the boiling momentum gathering in my root chakra, moving through my limbs with the notes, up through my arms and legs. The release, exquisite, of muscles moved to dance. Of vocal cords thrown open in song.

Mine is an embodied body. A body that was abused, and is still in recovery, rediscovery.

A body that brought life into the world without a pharmaceutical fog to separate me from my Pain. A body that has walked barefoot, childtoes in love with mud- thick, warm Mother Earth juices.

Mine is a body in flux, at the mercy of the dialogue between estrogen and progesterone, the interplay of ovaries and uterus. A bodymachine heaving herself in fits and starts toward cronehood. And I.



Arms wide open to this New Self, it is time to embrace my failings, see them anew. To honor them as blessed teachers. To reclaim.

From this day forward, I transmute into power being told that I should NOT read in class my very first day of school. Shamed by the adult in charge for teaching myself to read. The embarrassment, guilt for being smart at six years old.

I’ll take being sexually abused as a young child, in a family drowning in generations of Othering, neglect, and addiction. Growing up dirt poor, getting teased for wearing the same clothes two days in a row: bell-bottomed denim jeans with rainbows embroidered on the back pockets, hand-me-downs from my cousin, a few years older, but petite, as my mother’s family tends to be, so they were only slightly too large. Lime green t-shirt, the 3rd place prize in a Mother’s Day essay contest held by the local newspaper. I still have the clipping tucked away in my mom’s leather briefcase.

As of today, I recognize my value in my relationships. Off with the blinders of self-doubt. I see now that I was a woman desperately in need of affection, for someone to have my back, to hold me and say it would be okay. Settling for abuse or safe mediocrity because I couldn’t yet see that I could thrive, and not merely survive.

I reclaim my own experience of being a poor, struggling single mother in a generation of women who watched as socially guaranteed safety nets were yanked out from under our feet. Denying those of us who ached to elevate. Those of us who were willing to sacrifice, those of us who kicked and screamed against the System.

All we wanted was the opportunity to succeed.

I’ll take every shitty job, every small-minded, small-dicked tyrant boss.

Decades of working my body to chronic pain and injury for someone else’s profit.

I call to power my library and barstool education. I rose beyond the poor-ass school district I spent hard time in. Held my creativity close. Set my own curriculum. Pushed through being denied funding and support to continue my education. The thing I wanted most desperately.

I proclaim my diploma from The Global University of the Self-Educated and the Academy for the Ideal of Unlimited Potentiality.

I’ll even accept losing my mother, my twin self, my primary parent, in a car accident when I was 21 years old. She was 40 and ½ when she died (she always marked the ½’s, from her height to birthdays). I was suddenly a motherless child, with a baby of my own. My mother’s best friend fell asleep while driving 60 mph. Mom napping in the passenger’s seat, dreaming of waking to the majestic Grand Canyon. Her soul left her body in the Arizona mountains. Land of the First People. As she would have wanted.

I claim it all. Every piece invaluable. After all, until you fall enough, how can you lose your fear of falling?

It made me who I am today.

Healer, mother, writer, artist, empath, musician, wife, gourmet chef.

Grandmother. Matriarch.

Holding the line of my ancestors. Holding the line.

Heart wide open. Mind on fire.

There is wisdom, empathy and strength through suffering and pain. If you chose to look that motherfucker in the eye and not blink. To jump free-fall down into your stories is a courageous act, and they are the most crucial gift we have to give one another.

To say FUCK YOU to fear is the only way to creating new trajectories for ourselves. Away from abuse. Away from neglect. Towards loving ourselves as we are.

Knowledge, consciousness, and righteous outrage are my weapons.

Stretching, my mind and spirit are being pulled outward in every direction. Ocean size. To the nebulas. Far enough to hold the magnitude of abundance that is my life now. That is my love. Now.

Mind wide open. Heart on fire. Expanding, out and out and up and beyond, wide enough to hold all of the intensity and passion and pain and humanity and laughter and sex and joy and stories and stories and love and art.



Celeste Gurevich grew up on the Central Oregon Coast and currently lives with her husband, Andrew, in Portland. After experiencing a trauma-induced decade-long writer’s block, she started taking writing and film classes at Mt. Hood Community College and experienced a literary rebirth. A Social Artist in training, her goal is to teach others about the transformative nature of sharing our stories with one another, and the collective healing that comes from revealing our deepest inner selves in community. Her work has appeared in: Perceptions: A Magazine for the Arts, The Manifest-Station Whatever Works: Feminists of Faith Speak, and The International Journal of Gender, Nature, and Transformation. She is currently a member of the Dangerous Writers workshop with Tom Spanbauer, and is working on her first book. Her website, went live just in time for Christmas. She can be reached via email at

 She met Jen Pastiloff at a writing workshop in Portland called The Writer’s Voice with Lidia Yuknavitch and Suzy Vitello.

 Jen Pastiloff will be in Vancouver (Jan 17) and London (feb 14th) next with her Manifestation Workshop: On Being Human. Click here.
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.


Beating Fear with a Stick, Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, healing

To Heal the World We Must Heal Ourselves. By Bryant McGill

February 12, 2014


By Bryant McGill.

I was born in the deep south, in Mobile, Alabama, also known as the Azalea City because of the vibrant landscapes colored by these beautiful flowers. I had been adopted away from an abusive family situation, and had almost died twice as a toddler. I grew up on a small, dirt road in the country, and my family had few resources, so college was seemingly not an option. I had no connections, no education, few positive role models, and making matters worse, my self-esteem had been crushed through years of secreted childhood bullying and abuses, which would take me decades to overcome. What I remember the most about my childhood is constant fear — and “good food.”

I was raised in a culture of quietly “polite” judgments; a pressure-cooker of seething hatred, prejudice, violence and ignorance. But hey, the catfish and fried chicken were amazing! I was never really taught about healthy eating. To the contrary, my cultural inheritance was learning to “treat yourself” at “special occasions” by gorging on every horribly delicious food you can imagine. I don’t want to get into the greasy, buttery, deep-fried, fatty, sugary, meaty, barbecued details here, but let’s just say if gluttony really is the second deadly sin, then I knew a lot of people on their way to hell. With no knowledge of positive psychology, real foods or healthy lifestyles, time took its toll on me, and the invincibility of my youth diminished as my gut and waist-line expanded.

Much later in life, I found myself living (dying) in a suburban basement, like a hunchback shut-in, not leaving for months at a time because of embarrassment and chronic pain. It was really bad, and sad. I had no one to help me with my plight. I cried out for help to those closest to me, but my pleading was met with cold detachment and uncaring. There was a time when I was really worried and afraid that I was going to die, because I was so unhealthy. I could not even walk up a flight of stairs without being out of breath. I was truly and frighteningly, unwell. I was on my own and I was debilitated. I felt old and tired, and I could see the grave rapidly approaching. My body had become an entombment of fat covering the pain and loneliness of a broken heart and spirit. Hope and life seemed very distant.

But there was something still in me; a dream I had always dreamt of living a beautiful life. I had a calling in my heart; a great calling for a great work. But, to carry out my calling I would need strength and vitality, both things that seemed so far away. I longed to be free of the bodily pain, stiffness and decrepitude. I remember when I was just a little boy running around bare-foot on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere Alabama. I may have been a hick, but I could run! At dusk, often on my way home, I would run bare-foot through a five acre field of dew-covered grass. I was running wildly on the tips of my toes with such speed, that all I could hear was the loud winds blowing in my ears. I felt like Mercury, or an Indian brave, and my energy seemed inexhaustible. I could run like the wind; feeling my power rushing through me. I wanted that joyous, youthful vigor and spring back.

One of the first steps to achieving wellness for me, was learning humility. To abuse the gift of life and one’s own precious body is a form of extreme arrogance and self-hatred. So one of the keys for me was reacquainting myself with the beautiful gifts that exist, for those who have respect, gratitude and appreciation for all that is available to heal and sustain our bodies. I also made a very deliberate decision that I wanted to live life with health and vigor. I decided I wanted the energy and vitality to do and experience all of the wondrous things in life that are available to all people. I wanted the strength and stamina to lead a life of activity, exploration and true excellence. Ultimately it came down to me deciding whether I wanted to advance toward the grave in a state of decrepit stupor, or rise and advance in life as a fresh, vital being, full of youthful energy and joy.

In my quest for understanding, I realized something very important one day. That the human body is an unfathomable and miraculous microcosm of divine order. The intelligence, complexity and order of even a single cell rivals that of a large modern city. Our bodies love us! Just think about it. The universe within–your trillions of cells all cooperate in a grand orchestration to serve and heal you. Your cells work around the clock in total unison and harmony cleaning, repairing, restoring and nourishing your entire physical being. Every person’s body wants nothing more than to cooperate with them in achieving optimal health. But I realized that I was at WAR with my OWN body. I was waging a terrible war of violence against my body by bombarding it with stress, toxic environments, lack of sleep, and the most terrible and dreadful toxic foods known to man, otherwise known as, the modern American diet and lifestyle. When you are obese, you are chronically diseased and you are moving toward the grave at a rapid pace. My body had become completely addicted to heavy greases, oils, animal fats, highly refined carbohydrates, sugars, salts and an endless array of toxic chemicals. All of these self-inflicted bodily assaults kept my body’s own rescue and repair mechanisms overloaded and unable to keep up with my deteriorating state.

Even through my pain I worked toward my heart’s highest calling to be an instrument of healing for the world, but little did I know, that those whispers were really calling for my own healing. As destiny would have it, I found myself catapulted onto the world stage, and was given a rare opportunity to be a voice of reason and peace for the voiceless. However, with the opportunity came a humbling lesson. I was advocating for world peace, but I was waging a violent war against my own body. I was speaking about poverty and starvation, but I was eating more than my fair share. I was a hypocrite. This epiphany laid open my pride to the providence of self-love as I invoked the sage wisdom of Gandhi to become the change that I wanted to see in the world.

I discovered that simply by getting out of my own body’s way, and letting it do its job, and cooperating with my body, IT would heal itself from the dreadfully debilitating sickness of obesity. To lose weight I did very little outside of gentle and peaceful cooperation with the inherent wisdom and intelligence of my own body. Through meditation and gentle cooperation, the body will heal itself with little or no effort. When we are at peace with ourselves the total expression of that true peace includes our outer being; our body. Losing weight and being healthy is so simple and easy. Your goal should never be weight-loss, but rather to have true health and respect for the gift of life.

I know intimately the deep struggles and perseverance it takes to reclaim your health, because I have been there. This is not theoretical for me. I have personally lost over 100 pounds and shrank my waist from a size 48/50″ to 30″. I freed myself from all medications and healed all of my dis-eases: extreme obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, borderline diabetes, bad cholesterol, extreme acid reflux, candida, stiffness, glaucoma, arthritis, bursitis, knee and joint pain, gout, angina, insomnia, breathlessness, fatigue, chronic back problems, post nasal drip and sleep apnea. I believe I have extended my life by decades, reversing my heart condition, and clearing my arteries. I healed myself with totally natural methods, and I now have the energy, vitality, stamina and flexibility of a healthy twenty-year old.

What one person can do, another can do. You can reclaim your life and get back on track to becoming your full potential. It is never too late to love yourself again. Don’t give up. You can accomplish almost anything, if you really want it. Let me be your proof that it is possible. Start educating yourself and learn how to take proper care of yourself through self-love. I will be here to support you with the best information I can provide, to help you on your journey. The unification of the mind, spirit and body is the triad of focus that gives one the clarity and resolve to deliver. I have used these, and many other techniques to completely transform my body and my life. My strength, vitality and health are important parts of my secret to how I live a life of activity, exploration and creative excellence. And now, it’s your turn!

“The only hope of transforming the world from the ‘tsunami of violence’ is for each of us to Become the Change We Wish To See in the World. Bryant McGill shows us the way.”

— Dr. Arun M. Gandhi, Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi


Bryant McGill is a Best-Selling Author, Speaker and Activist,
In the Fields of Self-Development, Personal Freedom and Human Rights. More at


click to order Simplereminders new book.

click to order Simplereminders new book.

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human.

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human.

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

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

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.

And So It Is, Beating Fear with a Stick, Guest Posts, healing, Manifestation Retreats

The Changing of a Life by Katie Devine.

January 30, 2014

 It happens to be Katie’s birthday on January 30th, the day of this posting!)

I walked slowly, accompanied only by the broken disc in my spine and a fuzzy Vicodin hangover, to Cedars Sinai Hospital for back surgery.

I can hear how it sounds when I tell people now about my solo venture. Strange, desperate, crazy even, though I suppose it felt normal then, or at least like the best option I could come up with at the time. I had only been in Los Angeles for two months, and had no “in case of emergency” person programmed into my phone, or into what was supposed to be my new, perfect life. I had left New York feeling defeated by a city that I could never make feel like home, only to end up feeling beaten again, just by a different coast.

Two weeks earlier, I had taken a cab to my first-ever emergency room visit, because I was too embarrassed to call an ambulance for help while sobbing in my sunny, yellow and white kitchen. As I cried in the backseat of the taxi, not-so-silent tears running down my cheeks, the cab driver seemed nonplussed, as if he had seen it all before, as if there was nothing original about me, especially my pain.

So when my scheduled surgery date arrived, I chose to walk the half-mile to the hospital instead. I remember calling my mom, across the country in New Jersey, straining to hear her voice over the traffic noise on Third Street in a city where no one walks, trying to reassure her that I was fine. I was testing myself, perhaps, proving I could still walk a half-mile, before going under the knife and whatever would happen there. They make you sign a release form that says you might not walk again. It also says you might die, but you can’t dwell on that.

A nurse, who smelled faintly of antiseptic and rubber-soled shoes, checked me into pre-op before the doctor arrived and asked who was waiting to bring me home after surgery. No one is waiting for me; I’ll be fine, I told her resolutely, silencing her questions. She didn’t inquire further; she just looked at me sadly, as though being alone was the real tragedy rather than that broken fragment of disc floating around my lower back.

There is a difference between the look that says Oh you poor thing, going into surgery, and Oh you poor thing, going into surgery, and you’re alone.

She didn’t realize that alone is what I know. It’s where I’m comfortable. Loneliness has been a faithful companion to me, the kind of loneliness that comes from never showing anyone your truest self, because you’re sure if they saw the real you, they would run the opposite direction and you would be alone anyway.

The weeks following surgery were mostly spent in a self-imposed solitary confinement, on my couch, watching trashy TV or just staring out the window. June gloom, they call it in Los Angeles, where a cool mist hangs over everything, sometimes allowing a hazy sun to shine through in the afternoons, but not that summer. That summer the darkness never lifted, outside or inside. It pressed down on me like a lover whose weight was crushing the breath and life out of me, but from whom I didn’t know how to escape.

At night, I would cry. Because I thought I might never feel better. Because I feared I would never be able to run, or practice yoga, or do anything I wanted to do, ever again. Mostly because I worried I would feel this alone forever.

I didn’t know how to ask for help. I didn’t know how to accept the help that was offered. How could I let anyone know what was really going on, that I was not fine?

Who was I to ask someone to save me?


I wonder if I have ever felt like I was good enough.

There have been glimpses, here and there, certainly. Maybe for a few longer moments, like the time in the sixth grade when I got to play one of the leads in the school musical, and had the most lines in the show (I counted). There was me, center stage, with my ill-advised bangs, and braces, and acne, and I think I even had a perm, and my costume was my own souvenir t-shirt from our trip to Florida with something scrolled across the back in neon.

I must have bragged about my stardom more than once. A family friend made some remark to the effect of, “well, aren’t you proud of yourself” with her eyebrows raised, and I knew instantly that this was a bad thing, being proud of myself, or maybe just talking about it. I can still feel the flaming in my cheeks and the burning pit of shame in my stomach.  And I immediately was knocked back down to not good enough, remembering that I hadn’t even gotten the role in the first place. I had only gotten it because someone dropped out or got sick and they needed someone else to fill in and I was available since I hadn’t made the cut the first time around.

And then I remembered that I also didn’t make the choir that year either, the special choir that you had to audition for that got to go to Hershey Park at the end of the year. You could smell the chocolate in the air all the way from the highway, and the ones who made it would get to spend the whole day running around the park, eating chocolate and riding roller coasters before they got on stage to sing “Sunrise, Sunset” and “Candle on the Water” in a competition that would award trophies to the winners.  I got to go anyway that year, at the last minute, because someone else dropped out, or got sick, and they needed someone to fill in.

I resigned myself to being the fill-in, since I never seemed to be good enough to be what I wanted: the first choice.


So I adapted. By following things that came easily, that involved less risk, that were safe. But always looking over my shoulder for that voice that would tell me that I wasn’t good enough.

And what you look for, you find.

When the soccer coach suggested that I wasn’t likely to be a starter on next year’s team, I took it as a cue to stop playing. I’m not good enough.

When the algebra teacher said, “well, I’m not trying to make you feel stupid”, I accepted that I was doomed to fail algebra. I’m not good enough.

When I was dumped, from yet another failed relationship. I’m not good enough.

When the voice teacher said “you’ll never be one of the great opera singers”, I said ok, and thank you and I guess I’ll transfer into the business school. I’m not good enough.

I don’t know why it never occurred to me that it might not be true.

When the refrain of I’m not good enough plays on an endless loop in your head, you start to hear it in surround sound. It becomes easier to just not try. You can avoid rejection if you never open yourself up enough to be rejected.

You reject yourself before anyone else can.

Until you meet someone who doesn’t allow it anymore.


Another surgery, nearly four years later. This time I can drive myself, to the dentist’s office where my gums will be fixed. The nurse here gives me that Oh you poor thing look, but it’s not the one I had dreaded, full of pity and judgment. There’s just simple empathy this time. I settled on my couch afterwards, anxiously prepared for a repeat performance of lonely, party of one.

Except, this time, things are different. I am different.

The evidence was all around me. There was my friend, outside my house that first night with a balloon and cookies for me, unexpected and uninvited, but not at all unwelcomed. And then the next day, another friend stopped by to visit and eat ice cream and remind me that I wasn’t at all alone. Yet another friend offered to bring me soup or mashed potatoes, and checked in on me regularly. And the next day it happened again. All at once, there was no room for loneliness on my couch.

And in the spaces between visits, there was no crying this time, no gloom. Instead, there was reading, thinking, writing. Not ever knowing if it would be good enough but doing it anyway. Coming to understand that maybe, just maybe, there is no good enough.

What was closed is now opening. What was dejected is now hopeful. What was empty is now filling, slowly but surely.

This is what happens, I think. This is what happens when a life blossoms.


You asked me to tell you how my life has changed and I couldn’t tell you.

You asked me to write about what was different and I couldn’t find the words.

But I can point. To what was before, and what is now.

This. THIS is how a life is changed.

A single email, sent to you in desperation, late one night, that opens the floodgates.  The unearthing of the art that opens my heart, and fills my soul. Five retreats, each of them moving me closer to the life I didn’t even know I always wanted. The self-confidence, and also humility that comes from traveling to foreign lands, bringing experiences that forever alter my perspective and expand my thinking. The safety that exists within a supportive tribe of people, who allow for trial and failure, and picking myself back up again and doing better next time. The stripping down of relationships, often painfully, to their core, in order to rebuild them, this time from a place of truth. The forming of new ones, for all of the right reasons this time.

The softness brought on by vulnerability, after so many years of the hardness of I’m fines. Learning to actually say, out loud, I’m not fine. Countless yoga classes, with mantras like kindness and gratitude, which brought about the gradual quieting of that I’m not good enough refrain, no longer looked for or heard in surround sound. Posing in downdog atop a horse, unsure of what it looked like, or what might happen next, but feeling both free and grounded instead of my usual anxiety. The awareness and acceptance of the need for help, and the grasping for it when it arrives. Taking risks, small ones perhaps, but risks nonetheless. The sighting of beauty all around me, where before there had been blindness.

The right person, at the right time, answering that desperate email, believing in you, and in who you can become.

This. This is how a life is changed.


Katie chronicles her journeys on her blog Confessions of An Imperfect Life. Her work has appeared on sites including Thought Catalog, XOJane, The Manifest-Station, MindBodyGreen, Medium and Rebelle Society. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.


Jennifer Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Jen will be leading a Manifestation Retreat in Costa Rica at the end of March and her annual retreat to Tuscany is in July 2014. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing and for ALL levels. Read this post to understand what a Manifestation retreat is. Check out her site for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Jen and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October.