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Girl Power: You Are Enough

Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts, No Bullshit Motherhood, parenting

Sisterhood, Spirituality, & Raising a Daughter.

September 2, 2016

By Cori Howard

It all started with this ad. A pathetic inspiration really, but it got my 11-year-old daughter laughing and talking about something that is still relatively taboo and not often discussed – her period. “I want a first moon party,” she said, immediately after watching it. And suddenly, my friend and I began scheming about how we could make a vagina cake and a uterus piñata. My 15-year-old son, listening in on our wine-fuelled conversation, was horrified. But we would not be deterred.

We all knew it was coming. We saw the bodily signs – the breast buds, the pubic hair, the body odor. And although I was still coming to grips with how quickly puberty was hitting my little girl, I desperately wanted to honor this moment in her life somehow, to make it positive. Then, lost in the humor of actually planning a first moon party, my friend called and said: “Don’t just make it funny. Do it right.”

She knew me. We’d had endless discussions over the years about rite of passage ceremonies and why they were lacking in our lives and our culture. I had wanted to do something for my son. But at 13, he wasn’t into it and I didn’t realize at the time, he had turned the corner in age. He’d already become an eye-rolling teenager who scoffed at my “weird ideas.” At 11, my daughter was still young enough to be a willing guinea pig for my bohemian fantasy of a female rite of passage ceremony.

So I started reading and thinking. I knew my daughter’s first moon party couldn’t just be piñatas and cake – although it was really fun to make them. The real reason I wanted to host a first moon party was to offer my daughter, and her friends, an antidote to our consumer, hyper-sexualized culture around teenage girlhood. If I could offer her a ceremony that celebrated becoming a woman, that could show her a new way of looking not just at periods, but at sisterhood and spirituality – why not, right?

So the shaman arrived on a sunny, May afternoon and my daughter, surrounded by her 6 closest friends, asks: “Mom, is this going to be weird?”

I didn’t know what to say. Continue Reading…

Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts, Women, Women are Enough

Together We Grew

June 20, 2016

By Kimberly Valzania

Hi ladies, women, girls. Listen up.

I know you.

I know that some of you have been abused your whole life, whether you know it or not.  Whether it was subtle and under the radar, or straight up violent. Abused in ways that you can talk about and ways that you can not. Because you don’t remember. Or because you do.

I know you’ve been harassed. I know that over the years you’ve been told what you can and can not do. What you are allowed to do.  You’ve been told by men and other women, too.  And you’ve even been lectured by yourself. You’ve second-guessed your decisions because of how other people feel.

You’ve been told you are too strong, too big. Or you are too small, too skinny. Too jiggly.

You’re too bossy, too bitchy. Too direct, too blunt. Too polite. Too vague. Too emotional. Too wishy-washy. You’re too demure, too quiet. You’re too loud. You’ve been told to tone yourself down at bit. Too much. Not enough.

Slut, whore, angel, girl next-door. Continue Reading…

Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts, Manifestation Retreats, Young Voices

What Jen Pastiloff’s Retreat is Like: According to a 22 Year Old.

January 21, 2016

By Haley Jakobson.
Imagine you are 22 and freshly graduated and suddenly sucked into the city of New York like a vacuum, dust pounding into your ears and grit clouding your eyes. Imagine that you feel very alone, despite your dad being a ride away on the 6 train and your college friends scattered around Manhattan like bread crumbs. Imagine you are depressed with a heavy coating of anxiety, a strong nail lacquer that you can’t chip off with the underside of your fingernail. And now you are at work, and despite all of these things, or maybe because of them, work still bored you and you find yourself scrolling through the vortex of your Instagram feed.

This is when you find her. Somewhere buried beneath the yoga pictures that intimidate you and the dogma that comes with them that sometimes bites you from inside the screen, somewhere beyond the pictures of Saturday night snapshots that might have been forgotten otherwise, and hungover Sunday brunch photos you were invited to be a part of but were too sad to join – you find her. She says: “girl power you are enough.” She says “fuck.” A lot. She says, “don’t be an asshole.” Well, duh, you think – and then remember how often you forget this. You read on. Continue Reading…

Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts, Letter to myself, Self Love, Young Voices

Dear Younger Me

January 6, 2016

By Angela Kirchner

Dear Younger Me,

If you were reading this now you would probably be staring at it wondering when you got so serious. It probably barely has your attention as you think about some boy. Is it Dylan? Or have you not met him yet? That is what I am here to talk to you about. Whoever that boy in your head is, and I know there is one, he does not matter. The next five won’t matter either. I know that sounds crazy because you are supposed to date as you grow up and it is supposed to be fun and it is. It is fun until you realize you did not do it out of love. You dated to say you could have.

The funny thing is, through all this I broke hearts more often than I had my heart broken so the fact that I want you to change almost does not make sense. But the thing is, when you break someone else’s heart it hurts you too. Date the boy you like, but do not date the boy who just likes you. Someday you will come across someone who is both of those things and I know because I did and I am you and when you break up you will have a real reason. It will not be because you got bored. It will not be because talking to him annoyed you more than it made you happy. Do not date the boy that you can walk away from and not think about how much it hurts afterwards. That boy does not matter.

I know you only dated him because his friend said you were not enough and you just want to prove that you are. I know because I did that and I took someone’s time just to prove my worth to another boy. In the end none of the boys ever mattered. Not a single one. The only one who really matters is you. And you will be happy and laugh at your own jokes. You will sit in a dorm room next to your makeshift sister and laugh about things you saw online while you try and write that paper that is so easy but will take so much time. These are all things I have done without a boy by my side. The only difference is, I can feel in my heart all the boys I hurt and all the ones who hurt me.

So, younger Angela, you are beautiful. And you are worth it. And no matter how many times you are told by family members that your sister is so pretty and no matter how many times you think that means you are not it will not change anything. Breaking the heart of a boy will not change anything either. The boys do not matter, and until you are much older, they never will.

Love, Me.

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Angela Kirchner is an undergraduate student at Emmanuel College in Boston, MA. An English major, she is working on progressing her writing and hopes to publish her own works someday.  A former cheerleader, she is often upbeat and optimistic with a competitive drive. She comes from the small town of Billerica, MA with three siblings. She holds a love of books and speaks her mind on social issues.

 

 

Join Jen for a weekend retreat at Kripalu Center in Western Massachusetts Feb 19-21, 2016. Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was? Jennifer Pastiloff, creator of Manifestation Yoga and author of the forthcoming Girl Power: You Are Enough, invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty. Note Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. Click the photo to sign up.

Join Jen for a weekend retreat at Kripalu Center in Western Massachusetts Feb 19-21, 2016.
Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was?
Jennifer Pastiloff, creator of Manifestation Yoga and author of the forthcoming Girl Power: You Are Enough, invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty.
Note Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. Click the photo to sign up.

courage, Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts, Letter to myself, Women

Dear Self,

December 23, 2015

By Kimberly Valzania

Dear self
Dear 6 year old self
tell them what that 19 year old neighbor boy
did to you in the woods
how he kissed you on your little mouth and made
he made you pull down your pants
and he made you
and it only happened once
but once is all it takes
help them understand
why
why you wet your bed until you were 12
tell them why
why you couldn’t sleep
why you couldn’t just go to sleep
tell them you were scared
you were scared when you were 12 and
your period, it came
for the first time, tell them
how
how it wasn’t at all brilliant and
how you didn’t want to be a woman
but now you were
now you had no choice. Continue Reading…

Birthday, Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts, Jen Pastiloff, Jen's Musings

Getting Older is Everything. Don’t Believe The Lies. A Message To Young Women on Jen Pastiloff’s Bday.

December 12, 2015

By Jen Pastiloff
For as much as I talk about telling the truth, I still get butterflies when sharing my age. My friend Michelle Filgate had an essay in Buzzfeed yesterday about how she used running to treat depression and then she got injured. She interviewed me and it said, Jen Pastiloff, 40 years old, and I sat up and had a moment where I thought how could they have gotten that wrong? I am so not 40 years old.

But I was. Yesterday.

Today, I am 41.

It mortifies my mother-in-law that I tell people how old I am. Especially here in LA, we are not “supposed to” do that.

Youth is a commodity! You’re not “supposed to” age!
I call bullshit.

Continue Reading…

depression, Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts, Young Voices

A 15 Year Old Girl Reminds Us: “I Am Not My Mental Illness.’

December 11, 2015

Note from Jen Pastiloff, founder of The Manifest-Station. This is part of our Young Voices Series for Girl Power: You Are Enough. We are always looking for more writing from YOU!* Make sure you follow us on instagram at @GirlPowerYouAreEnough and on Facebook here. Please share this essay as I feel it is tremendously important that we begin to shatter the stigma of mental health. Tweet, FB it, send to a friend, Instagram it. Whatever you can do. We are very proud of Giana!

By Giana Masso

When we think about mental illness, we too often picture the horror movie images: straight jackets, padded rooms, electroshock therapy, insane asylums.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why these portrayals in horror movies are entertaining, and chilling. We look at these characters as monsters, because they’re often violent, delusional, or dangerous in general. However, this caricature of mental illness is not entirely harmless in its value as entertainment.

What we see in the media changes the way we perceive real experiences. For example, if someone constantly sees news reports on how violent pit bulls are, it would be easy to make assumptions and develop a fear of pit bulls. This applies to the way we discuss mental illness as well. We only talk about mental illness in a time of tragedy. It makes these illnesses into characters, almost. Depression is associated with acting unreasonably, Anxiety is associated with rushed decision making. Bipolar disorders are associated with displays of moody, angsty reactions. We don’t see people with mental illnesses as people anymore: we see them as the illnesses themselves. Continue Reading…

Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts, Women

A Letter to My Former Self

December 9, 2015

By Ashley Doonan

Dear former-self,

You are okay. Your bones are softer than you think. Leave the molding to the sculptors.

It’s 7:28 on a Thursday night. I just left my apartment in my pajamas to buy a candle and m&ms from Rite Aid. I’m sitting in the living room of my apartment for the first time since I moved in, which was last August.

This morning, I drank two caramel-swirl lattes in rapid succession for breakfast while calling countless doctors in hope of scheduling an appointment at a time that both fits into my schedule and is in-network for my insurance.

It started snowing as I limped to class on my crutches. Everything felt blissful, in the most ironic sort of way. As I navigated through the decrepit building in which all of my classes are located, I was faced with countless acts of kindness: strangers opening doors, offers to carry my belongings up to my classroom, a warm reassurance from my professor that I could leave the seminar at any point if I needed to receive a phone call from the doctor. Even my meek, ill-reasoned contributions to our seminar discussion were praised. I make a conscious effort to appreciate it all: congeniality and genuine human understanding is grossly underrated, especially in academia.

The remainder of the day was a blur: more snow, more slipping, more gripping. But now, as I’m nestled on the floor with my body pillow and my candle, I’m content. My eyes are heavy. These sentences are probably more or less repetitive fragments. But that’s okay, because I’m content. Continue Reading…

anti-bullying, courage, Gender & Sexuality, Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts

Cut The Label

December 1, 2015

By Laurie Suarez

Today is December 1st. The start of the new month. The last month of ​the​ year. And today is the day a very important movement launches. It will be a small movement at first, but it will grow. ​M​y hope is that it will grow to be so big that it isn’t a movement at all, it is just the way ​we think.​

My name is Laurie Suarez and today is the official launch of Cut the Label®— the campaign I founded in honor of my daughter​.​ The aim of Cut the Label® is to end the practice of categorizing each other. Sometimes we assign a label without thinking, sometimes a label is assigned to be cruel. In either case, the result is the same: the person we label is reduced to quick categorization. But we are so much more than the labels we attach to each other. We are not ​just a​ ​Religion, a Sexual Orientation, an Addiction, a Disease, a Diagnoses, ​Formally Educated-Not, Republican-Not, Rich-Not.

We are so much more than that.

​​YOU ​are so much more than that.

A year ago today​ I had to face ​the​ ​world of labels ​the hardest way possible, through watching my child struggle. A year ago, my son told me that he can’t be my son anymore. That he knew ​in his heart and brain that he is a girl. I accepted this and understood that I quickly needed to learn about what we were now facing. I glued myself to ​the​ computer and researched ​LGBTQ and ​Gender Dysphoria. ​The medical community has recognized ​Gender Dysphoria​ as a condition that can be diagnosed and addressed. One of the ​biggest struggles ​to anyone who has Gender Dysphoria is ​feeling valued​ as a human, and not feeling defined by​ labels and terms that are used against them when they move around in the world.

​The son​ ​I raised for nearly 14 years ​is in the process of transitioning to the self she knows she is​, my beautiful daughter.​ Being a teenager is hard enough, and to layer the complexities of Gender Dysphoria onto it makes the struggle much more painful. ​I couldn’t possibly be more proud of her. My daughter ​has struggled, but she is ​t​he bravest ​person ​I know​. No doubt, she deserves to be a part of a world that sees her for the person she is and ​​not a label​.​

​T​his is why I started focusing on the world beyond my daughter.​

​After I sank into a world of acronyms and labels, it occurred to me that I have missed opportunities to meet someone who could have been my friend due to a preconceived label. Staying away from certain people due to a label attached to them is unfair. There are good people everywhere and if someone is an A**hole (and as Jen Pastiloff says #dontbeanasshole) it has nothing to do with religion, sexual orientation or any other label. Some people are just A**holes. But just because some may act that way, it doesn’t mean that everyone who is of the same religion, or sexual orientation, or whatever is that way. Period. My daughter ​is and will always be loved as part of our family, but she has a long journey ahead.

​The mission of Cut the Label® is to participate in the spread of kindness and love for Humanity.

While this message is not new it cannot be overstated. We can make this world a bit “Gentler” by sticking together, let’s stop pulling each other apart into categories. Ask me my name, get to know me. I can always tell you more about me, my culture or religion and so much more if we decide to chat. But, please don’t stay away from me, my daughter or anyone else because of a label. We all deserve to be recognized and valued as a Human first.

J​ust step away from ​assigning labels​ and​ stuffing people into categories​ and smile at a stranger today.​​ I promise you it’s not difficult. ​Together, we can do this. Together, we can make a world a more accepting place for everyone.

​Cut the Label® wants to give transgender Humans and ALL ​Humans ​​hurt by ​discrimination​ion​ due to a Diagnoses, Religion, Sexual Orientation, Political choice, Culture, Disease  – t​he ​most Gentle ​world possible. On this day, December 1st, ​2014, ​I learned I ha​ve​ a ​3rd daughter.​ I feel honored to help guide her and to promote the message of Love and Acceptance.

Thank YOU for your friendship.

Learn more about Cut The Label® here. 

Follow Cut The Label® on Facebook here. 

Follow Cut The Label® on Instagram here. 

Follow Cut The Label® on Twitter here. 

Also, listen for Cut The Label® on 97.8 LA Mega in New York and 100.3 Z100 also in New York. 

And don’t forget to follow #GirlPowerYouAreEnough on Instagram — because YOU ARE ENOUGH!

 

Join Jen for a weekend retreat at Kripalu Center in Western Massachusetts Feb 19-21, 2016. Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was? Jennifer Pastiloff, creator of Manifestation Yoga and author of the forthcoming Girl Power: You Are Enough, invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty. Note Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. Click the photo to sign up.

Join Jen for a weekend retreat at Kripalu Center in Western Massachusetts Feb 19-21, 2016.
Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was?
Jennifer Pastiloff, creator of Manifestation Yoga and author of the forthcoming Girl Power: You Are Enough, invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty.
Note Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. Click the photo to sign up.

Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts, Letter to myself

A Letter to My Teenage Self

November 25, 2015

By Caitríona Murphy

Dear Caitríona,

If I could go back in time and talk to you, I’d talk to you at sixteen, an age where you think you are beginning to understand life. You don’t. In ten years’ time, you still won’t.

Okay, first of all, put down the romance novel. They aren’t good for you and reading three of them in one weekend isn’t something to brag about. Let’s start with some obvious advice; don’t cut your hair. You are so close to getting your first pair of hair straighteners and no lie, they will change your life. Just hold on. Tell Jack that one day his entire right arm will be covered in tattoos, just to see his reaction. Don’t worry too much about maths, yes, you will fail it in your final exams (shocking, I know) but the good news is that you will never use long division again. Tell Sue that she will get accepted to study medicine and Sarah that she is still creating art, which gets more breath-taking by the day. Tell Mam hi, she is doing great, still strong and smart and wonderful.

Now Cat, this part is important, don’t skim it. Hug your Granda extra tight, tell him you love him as often as you can and spend as much time as possible with him; one day he falls asleep and you don’t get a chance to say goodbye. There is heartbreak ahead, not silly upset caused by stupid boys, but real heartbreak. Listen to Dad; really listen, even when he is exasperating and giving out and annoying you, listen to him. There is a long battle ahead for him, one that he ultimately survives, but there are casualties of the battle nonetheless. One of those casualties is his voice. Cancer will take so much from him and even though you will know the joy, the indescribable joy, of his survival, of his triumph, you will also know what it is to wake in the middle of the night and cry, when you will grieve for the casual act of him humming a mindless tune or even muttering a smart remark. You will panic that you can’t remember his voice. So listen carefully, to all of it. Commit that voice to memory. Continue Reading…

feminism, Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts, Young Voices

A 16 Year Old Writes “The Day I Became A Woman.”

November 5, 2015

Note from Jen Pastiloff, founder of The Manifest-Station: This is a piece for my “Young Voices” series. It was written by  Anastasia Kranz who is sixteen years old.  I am in the process of organizing the next Girl Power workshop so please stay tuned to this site and my social media, especially @GirlPowerYouAreEnough on instagram.

I am looking for more young voices to publish so please submit if you have something to say. Please note, if you are under 18 you must have parental permission unless you are using a pseudonym. I am so excited to be working on the book Girl Power: You Are Enough, as well as the workshop for young women which has been a HUGE success so far. Please help me spread the word and sign up or sign your daughters/nieces/friends. I am also in the process of selecting ambassadors to represent #GirlPowerYouAreEnough. More information on this on my instagram at @jenpastiloff. Love, Jen

By Anastasia Kranz

The day I became a woman was not the expected landmark in my puberty, it was the day I realized I needed to be a feminist. There were many factors that culminated in this epiphanic moment, and all of them were issues that I would later find addressed by feminism.

Two years ago, at fourteen, I was obsessed with the prospect of a perfect body. Despite asthma and a lack of athletic skills, I forced myself to run every single day after school. On a warm day in June I put on my running sneakers and started my workout playlist. As I was running, I heard a harsh voice—I turned around and the biggest fear of my preteen life was realized. A middle-aged man had pulled his car up next me and was opening the passenger door. He yelled “Get in the car!” repeatedly at my trembling face. I froze, then ran in the opposite direction, only pausing at the traffic light where I met my friend–to whom I didn’t relay the story. Later, when I got home, I didn’t even tell my mother. At the time, I wanted my freedom—and I needed freedom because I wanted to burn calories. At the time, I did not understand that I had just experienced an attempted kidnapping.

The scariest part of the event was surprisingly not when a man attempted to abduct me. Instead, it was what I was told by the police, a few days later, after I told my parents what had happened. I met with a detective whom I believed would be helpful and supportive. Instead, the detective labeled me guilty: for not reporting the event earlier, but also for the running clothes I’d been wearing. In the gray box of a room, I sat with my knees hugged to my chest and listened to the detective tell me that I should not have been outside alone wearing “provocative” activewear. Then he said that if, per se, my little sister had been abducted in the time that I had waited to report the event, then her abduction would have been my fault. The shame and guilt I felt from the words of this man were the detrimental effects of victim blaming. I knew that what he said was wrong and problematic, but I did not learn what those phrases meant until later down my journey when I learned about feminism. Once that word was in my vocabulary it became my identity and I discovered that this would be part of me for the rest of my life.

Continue Reading…

feminism, Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts, Young Voices

A 13 Year Old Girl On Her Experience at “Girl Power: You Are Enough.”

October 1, 2015

Note from Jen Pastiloff, founder of The Manifest-Station: This is a piece for my “Young Voices” series. It was written by Olivia Heimann who is thirteen years old and attended the launch of Girl Power. I am proud to announce that Olivia is an ambassador for Girl Power: You Are Enough. I am in the process of organizing the next Girl Power workshop so please stay tuned to this site and my social media.

I am looking for more young voices to publish so please submit if you have something to say. Please note, if you are under 18 you must have parental permission unless you are using a pseudonym. I am so excited to be working on the book Girl Power: You Are Enough, as well as the workshop for young women which has been a HUGE success so far. Please help me spread the word and sign up or sign your daughters/nieces/friends. I am also in the process of selecting ambassadors to represent #GirlPowerYouAreEnough. More information on this on my instagram at @jenpastiloff. Love, Jen

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A Life-Changing Experience
By Olivia Heimann

On Saturday September 19, I walked into YogaStream studio, which was full of girls about my age. Everyone was definitely nervous and that only grew once Jen told us that we needed to trust everyone else in the room. As the class went on and people understood that we were here to boost and stand by one another – that’s what girl power is all about.

We wrote in our little red notebooks that said “Own Your Awesome” (by Your Joyologist) about things that we need to do to be happy and also things we would do if we were not afraid. Some people stood up and read what they wrote. It was so empowering to hear everyone’s stories about bullying, coming out, eating disorders, and so much more. We learned so much and cared so much from listening to everyone.

This is the part where I started crying and feeling. I was not the only room. The whole room felt it!

Jen asked us to think of someone to thank. It could be a family member, a friend, a pet, anyone. I immediately thought of one of my best friends, who is now in 9th grade. She has always had an uncomfortable relationship with food; because of the stomachaches she has had her whole life. Around November and December of 2015, she started having serious anorexic symptoms. I was the first one who realized what was going on, around mid-January. Soon after I noticed, everyone else saw the difference in her limbs and stomach. Everyone wanted to try and stop or warn her, but didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Her boyfriend at the time only made things worse by saying she looked good the way she was while she was anorexic. About 4 or 5 months into it, she lost her period, and fainted several times. At the beginning of this summer, she lost feeling in her legs because lack of blood circulation. Sleeping was kind of her “survival mode,” which is what she did most of the time. Every morning, she would get up, feel dizzy and fall. Every morning. Above all, she still hated her body and thought she deserved to be punished. At her lowest weight, she was 79 pounds, and still thought she was fat. She had lost about 40 pounds in 8 or 9 months. About a week after she got home from a trip to England, she realized things were so bad that if she wanted to live, she had to go to the hospital. She was in bed rest for a month. The doctors said if she had waited for another week to come in, she would have died.

When I thanked her, I said thank you for realizing this has to stop, thank you for realizing you have to go to the hospital. Thank you for not waiting any longer. Because what would have broken my heart was attending her funeral. All these thoughts running through my head about my best friend left me bawling. As I continued to sob, we all stood up and sang ‘I will always love you.’ That was an even more emotional part for me because it was like I was singing to my best friend. While I hugged everyone with tears streaming down my face, I was so grateful for being able to have that catharsis.

The next writing activity really hit home. We wrote a letter from someone who loves us. Since I had already thought of a friend, I decided to write the letter from my mom to me. I wrote about how she loved me, how she was proud of me for following in her footsteps, and how she admired how independent and confidant I have become. When Jen asked me to read my letter, I started tearing up. As I tried to breathe, everyone said, “We are here for you.” Of course my mom being in the room made me cry even more, but as Jen repeated several times JB (just breathe), I was able to stumble through the letter. The saying Jen told us numerous times “how bold one gets when one is sure of being loved” completely came to life. I was so confident in myself, when I heard my mom say ‘I love you, baby, I love you to the moon and back.’

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Continue Reading…

Gender & Sexuality, Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts, Young Voices

In My Mother’s Bathroom

September 23, 2015

Note from Jen Pastiloff, founder of The Manifest-Station: This is a piece for my “Young Voices” series. I am looking for more young voices to publish so please submit if you have something to say. Please note, if you are under 18 you must have parental permission unless you are using a pseudonym. I am so excited to be working on the book Girl Power: You Are Enough, as well as the workshop for young women which has been a HUGE success so far. Please help me spread the word and sign up or sign your daughters/nieces/friends. I am also in the process of selecting ambassadors to represent #GirlPowerYouAreEnough. More information on this on my instagram at @jenpastiloff. Love, Jen

In My Mother’s Bathroom
By Emily Falkowski

Over the years I learned how to kiss girls without feeling like my abuser. This is one of the small ways in which my voice came knocking at my gut, demanding to be let in.

The first time I fooled around with a girl I was fourteen. I kissed Brianna up against the wall of the astronomy building at summer camp. I pushed my groin into hers and imagined Brianna pinned there against the brick, like moss.

“You’re so aggressive,” she said. “I didn’t expect this.”

“I’m sorry. I’m nervous. Should I stop?”

“No,” Brianna pushed her tits up at me when I grabbed her wrists with one hand and pinned them behind her back, “I like it. It’s like you’re a boy.”

When she said that I got intensely wet. I wanted to be a boy. I started to unzip her pants and imagined that I had a penis. How it would be hard and corporeal against her thigh, a real thing she could pull out of my pants. Then I would push Brianna onto the ground and make her fuck me with her mouth.

I pulled her left breast out off her bra and wrapped my mouth around the nipple. She said my name, and I felt my body go numb, I couldn’t feel anything below my belly button. This wasn’t surprising, I was used to this sort of thing happening when someone I was with said my name, or tried to touch me below the waist.

“Mmm, please don’t say my name right now.”

“Okay,” She giggled, “What do you want to be called?”

 

My earliest idea of womanhood is limited, defined by the sexual anatomy of a female. I’m four in my mother’s bathroom watching her dry off after a shower, wrapping her hair in a green towel and propping one leg up on the bath-tub. Continue Reading…

Contests & Giveaways, Gender & Sexuality, Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts

Essay Winner of Jen Pastiloff & Emily Rapp’s Vermont Retreat!

September 14, 2015

Note from Jen Pastiloff, founder of The Manifest-Station: 

This was not easy. This is not easy. I had one spot to give away to our retreat (and yes, we will do it again next year as this is our third year leading the Vermont retreat.) I had one spot which then turned into FOUR, thanks to various generous donors including Lidia Yuknavitch, Amy Ferris, Elizabeth Quant and three others.

And yet and still, we have 70 essays to get through. You read that right: 70. In just a few days, 70 essays piled in.

I sat reading through all of them with eyes spilling over. I was so moved that I decided I could not stop here. I would keep giving and finding ways to be of service. My teacher and mentor, Dr. Wayne Dyer, passed away last week- that was his big message. How many I serve? 

I intend to carry on that legacy.

I decided I could not stop at these 4 spots to Vermont so I am giving away 3 spots to my New Years Retreat in Ojai, California as well. Nothing makes me feel better than to do this.

I also have 20 spots to give away to my Girl Power: You Are Enough workshop for teens next weekend in Princeton and NYC. Ten available for each workshop. Email me for a spot. I want girls who could not afford the cost to be able to attend. Here are the details. Please note: the Princeton workshop is 13 and up and the NYC workshop is 16 and up.

And yet and still, there are so many others that were not chosen. There was not one essay that didn’t move me. There was not one essay that did not want me to push through my computer screen and embrace the woman who wrote it. Not one. I had a team helping me as I could not do this alone. I think we need to remember that more often: we cannot do this alone.

How bold one gets when one is sure of being loved.

Which brings me to my first winner. Her essay floored us but her friends also wrote in on her behalf, unbeknownst to her. How bold one gets when one is sure of being loved indeed. Jena Schwartz is the first recipient of the four scholarships and I am proud to share her essay below with you. She has been notified and will be attending the retreat with Emily and I next month in Stowe. She is over the moon. The retreat is sold out. Congratulations to Jena. I hope you all will be moved to share this. I know I was.

At the end of my life, when I ask one final, “What have I done?” Let my answer be, “I have done love.”

Love, Jen Pastiloff

sillhouette

 

Free Associating about Fear & Faith (Or, What I’ve Forgotten)
By Jena Schwartz

In this moment of sitting down to write, there’s the lump in my throat and the tears behind my eyes and the tension of holding them in. There’s fear. And behind that, faith. And there’s something I’ve forgotten that needs remembering. It has to do with connection, to myself, to moving slowly and having enough time and trusting that shit always work out in the end, and that there’s no end, only the unfolding of our days and the thank you. The thank you I need to remember to say, in the morning and at night.

Mani, my beloved wife of one year come September 27, is not feeling well this morning. She is shaky and nauseous. She drank an Ensure and rolled onto her side to try to sleep; she did not sleep well during the night. She is getting better. Two steps forward, one back. Like the two-step dance that magical weekend in Phoenix, when I flew out there to meet her and a whole group of us went to the Cash, my first-ever gay bar. Little did we know then, that we’d end up together, much less married!

Most of the time, I’m able to stay in a place of faith and trust. I’m able to stay in the light. I’m able to remember the partnership she and I discovered not only between us but with God, too — how when Rabbi Efraim witnessed and blessed our vows, God was there with us under that chuppah last September 27, the day before her 37th birthday and a few months before I turned 41.
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