Browsing Category

Inspiration

Guest Posts, Inspiration, love

My Mother’s Boyfriend and Me.

November 24, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black
By Caroline Leavitt

When my mother turned ninety-two, she fell in love for the first time.

Although my mother and my father had been married for over thirty years, theirs wasn’t even remotely a love story. Before she met him, she had thought she was in love with the son of a butcher. He courted her for a year, and one night, he had even scribbled out their wedding announcement in mustard on a napkin, giving it to her to put in her purse for safekeeping. Then he left for Chicago, promising to come back to her. He kept his word to return, but not until six months later, and then, he was holding the hand of a pretty, very pregnant wife. When his wife excused herself to powder her nose, he cornered my mother in the kitchen, hotly whispering against her neck, “Maybe I made a mistake.”

“No,” she said. “I did.”

As soon as he left, my mother let her heart break. It wasn’t so much that she cared about this young man, whose character was clearly lacking, but, it was more that she saw her future leaving her. A family. A home. All the things she wanted so desperately. She was living with her parents and she lay in bed crying, so long and so hard that her father began to plead. “You have to live,” he urged. He sat by her bed, coaxing food, insisting that she get up, and try and be happy again.

And so, because she loved her father, because she didn’t want to be a disappointment to him, and mostly because she was twenty-eight, which was as close to spinsterhood as she could allow herself to get, she let herself be trundled off to what was then called an adult day camp, where single men and women could spend a month, living in cabins, enjoying swimming, boating and arts and crafts, but really looking for their mates. There, as if she were choosing a cut of meat for dinner, she had her pick of men. She settled on two of the most marriage-minded: a sturdy looking guy who was going to be a teacher and my father, who was quiet, a little brooding, but who already had a steady, money-making career as an accountant. She wasn’t sure how she felt about him, but she believed that love had already passed her by, like a wonderful party she had somehow missed. But even so, she could still have the home, the family, the life she wanted if she were only brave and determined enough to grab it. My father asked her to marry him, and she immediately said yes. But later, she told my sister and me, that when she was walking down the aisle, her wedding dress itchy, and her shoes too tight, she felt a surge of terror. This isn’t right, she thought. But there was her father, beaming encouragingly at her. There was her mother, her sisters and brothers and all her friends, gathered to celebrate this union. Money had been spent on food and flowers and her white, filmy dress. And where else did she have to go? So she kept walking. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Inspiration, Men

Dear Me: A Beautiful Letter To A Man’s Younger Self.

November 21, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black

By Peter Tóth.

Hi Peter,

It’s me, your 36 year old self.

How are you doing?

I’m writing to you from Nottingham, UK. Yeah, I know, you might want to ask how did I get here. But that’s not important. I’m here as a result of many decisions, almost all of them still unmade by you.

It’s shortly before 7 in the morning and I’m sitting on a George Street bus stop, waiting for the Nottingham City Transport bus line number 10, going to Ruddington, where I work. You haven’t really worked yet and I cannot lie to you that it’s always great, but work is good, it will be good for you. You’ll meet many people at work and/or while working. People are good. It takes an effort to convince myself of that sometimes, but I truly believe they are.

But I’m not writing this letter to tell you what I’m doing, what you’ll be doing in 20 years time, because even if you would somehow read this letter, you probably wouldn’t become exactly who I am now anyway, as you would hopefully read this carefully and you will avoid some mistakes that I have made. Although it’s these mistakes that got me where I am, doing what I do and I neither can, nor I want to complain about it, so let’s cut this hypothetical bullshit of what would, or wouldn’t be.

I won’t be telling you what to do and what not to, what I decided to tell you is this: Whatever you’ll be doing, just enjoy it more, enjoy it as much as you can. I’m looking back and I don’t think I regret doing anything. I also don’t regret not doing anything. But what I regret is not fully enjoying what I was doing while I was doing it. Not being completely present, focused. Not paying attention. Not being in love with what was surrounding me, not being in love with what’s within myself.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Inspiration

Invisible Strings.

November 14, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black
By Marika Delan.
Fifteen days.
The average number of days in a grace period. It was also the number of days I knew Rose Alma.I wouldn’t have thought that was long enough to get so tangled up in someone else’s thread but I met Rosie on the third day of June. Fifteen days later, I mourned her.I hadn’t even “met” her if you want to get technical. I heard a little of Rose Alma’s story from Jen Pastiloff who had blogged about visiting her in Atlanta, where Rose was hospitalized. Rose had asked Jen to visit her and Jen had gone. Jen had never met her either.

I couldn’t explain how a perfect stranger compelled me to reach out, except that Rose was one of those people whose light could bounce off anything like a mirror in the sun. It’s hard not to want to get close to light like that; it makes everything bright enough to see clearly where there was only darkness before. And Rose reminded me of things I had lost: most recently my nursing job. Thirty years ago, my friend, Lisa Rose.

I felt inexplicably drawn to send Rose a message on Facebook that Monday in June. She was asking all her friends to do random acts of kindness every day of June until her birthday, coming up on June 25th. She would have been 26.

Continue Reading…

Gratitude, Guest Posts, Inspiration

The Opposite of Apathy.

October 30, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black
By Jenna Tico.
When you step off the plane in Rwanda, the air smells of fire. That’s what they don’t tell you; they, meaning the countless guidebooks delineating which sandals to buy (orthotic, waterproof), which bug spray to slather (to DEET or not to DEET?), and how—in moments of inevitable gastrointestinal agony—to avoid bringing home any parasites. Handmade paper beads, yes: parasites, no. Yet for all of their guidance, not a single text captures the feeling of landing on African soil, the pungent earth squishing beneath your sandals (orthotic, waterproof) as the nighttime air clicks with voices and insects. Not one of them speaks of the smell, of the sticky-sweet heat that seeps into your pores as you step on the tarmac, knowing full well that you’ll never again feel what you felt like Before.For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a traveler’s soul. Before I ever left the United States, gathering passport stamps like badges of love, my brain had one foot out the door: and before long, that pull became inseparable from volunteerism abroad. At a Liberal Arts college, the only thing more common to hear than “God, I’m so TIRED” was the ever-present game of charity poker: I see your volunteer trip to Haiti, and raise you an orphanage-building in Chad. For a young girl who knew only that I needed to go—and from that forward motion, hopefully enact some positive change—this was a strange phenomenon. Moreover, it was stifling: to disentangle desire from the pressure to look good in a letter, smiling-but-not-smiling as a smattering of indigenous children sit stoically by, was daunting. Tongue-in-cheek articles glared up from The Onion, “6-Day Trip to Rural African Village Completely Changes Woman’s Facebook Profile Picture!” and I lost what I’d not known I’d had: Truth. Clarity. Innocence, and the genuine drive to connect.

So I did what I always do: I danced. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Inspiration, Young Voices

This Is What Everyone Feels Like: A Thirteen Year Old Speaks Out.

October 22, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black

 

Jen Pastiloff here. I am the founder of The Manifest-Station and the author of the forthcoming book Beauty Hunting. I wanted to say a quick thank you to all of our readers and authors. I am over the moon that the site is a platform for writers of all ages. To have a place where young people and teens feel safe to sound their voice, all, that’s beauty hunting to me. 

This Is What Everyone Feels Like: An Eighth Grade Vegan Reflects on the People’s Climate March

By Eva Schenck, Eighth Grader. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, healing, Inspiration

Emotional Body House.

October 7, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-blackBy Kate Berlin.

I’ve been working on opening up my heart.

Literally.

I’ve been sitting with eyes closed at random places -the break room at work, the bathroom, at red lights and stop signs in the car- and whispering to myself “my heart is open, my heart is open.”

But all that’s really there is a heavy lump in my throat, because my heart isn’t anywhere near being open. Lately, my heart has been closed.

*****

When I think of my past experiences and emotions I like to envision a house, with rooms, and common areas, and a garden.

If you’d ask me a few years ago what that house looked like. I would describe it with little consideration, as nothing more than a shack. An abandoned structure, inside dark and dingy with boards blocking any view from anyone on the outside wanting to take a glimpse in.   Mildew, standing water, dried, withered, and flaking paint, rats, and the reeking stench of loneliness. Dust collecting on the windowsills and the baseboards, in the walls a termite infestation, gnawing away at the structure of the house. Each room filled with boxes, piled on top of each other, on top of furniture draped in cloth. Furniture that once served a purpose, that was colorful and comfortable, that sustained a living and brightened the home. The garden left untended, was muddy and overgrown filled with empty pots and dead plants. Weeds took over where once grew a meadow. And wasps took the place of butterflies. Continue Reading…

courage, Guest Posts, healing, Inspiration

What You Will Learn From This: Living With Head and Brain Injury.

October 6, 2014

By Jane Ratcliffe.

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black

1. Some people will refuse to believe that there’s anything wrong with you. They will accuse you of pretending to be sick for attention, even though you had plenty of attention in your life before the table top that was mounted on the wall fell on your head (or you got in that car accident, et cetera). They will counsel people not to help you, they will explain to them that helping you with your myriad terrifying symptoms is akin to enabling a drug addict; help will only encourage you to fake your illness longer. What you will learn from this: You’ll learn how to swaddle the voice that spends hours (and hours) each day defending itself to your accuser in soft, warm blankets and hold it to your breast rocking it gently like the frightened baby that it is. You will learn how to hear your soul and spirit shouting to you through the (temporarily?) out-of-whack channels of your brain, calling out over the cries of the baby, that your naysayer’s truth is not your truth, no matter how forceful their voice is. You will slowly excavate Your Truth from the dark, neglected chambers of your heart. You will discover how to let others say what they will about you while you’re still sick and heal anyway.

2. Most people will believe you, but they won’t really “get it”—so they’ll drift away until you’re better. Or they’ll get it, but you’re like a drowning person grasping at anything stable—and just because they don’t have head or brain injury doesn’t mean they’re consistently on steady ground. So they may drift in and out depending upon circumstances. This will hurt, but you’ll reflect upon your own life and all the times somebody else’s suffering was too much for you to carry. Or the times you judged someone’s suffering as symptomatic of character flaws—some of which were annoying enough that you secretly considered that perhaps they deserved their struggles, that if they were better people they wouldn’t have these struggles and, really, it wasn’t up to you to fix that mess. And that just as you have been put aside now, so too did you put aside others. What you will learn from this: Compassion. We are all suffering. You haven’t been singled out. Listen. Watch. Study others. No one is without fear. You will learn to hold their fear in your cleaned-up, cleared-out heart, and you’ll discover that the compassion you generate for their fear has the power to dissipate your fear as well. And likewise, the compassion you learn to generate for yourself (because you need it more than you initially realize) makes it easier to be present to another’s suffering which, well, makes it easier to be present to your own. And so on.

Continue Reading…

Fatherhood, Guest Posts, Inspiration, Truth

Now Is An Uncomfortable Place To Be. By Carvell Wallace.

September 29, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-blackBy Carvell Wallace. 

Sometimes I have dreams where I wake up crying. Intensely. Childishly. These are dreams about a broken heart. Usually at the end of a love affair.

But last night I dreamt about Ferguson. We were there. My kids and I. There were railroad tracks. Singing. Candles and crepuscular bands of light silhouetting black bodies against the sky. I don’t remember what happened, but in the dream we failed. Somehow we failed. And I was wailing alone like a motherless child.

I kinda stopped posting about Ferguson or about police. Because there’s so much. So many unarmed people shot, killed, and beaten by police. I mean, we’re all kind of scrolling past now, aren’t we? Video shows police shoot unarmed man. Video shows suspect had his hands up. Video contradicts police story, Man in wheelchair beaten by police. See the shocking video. Woman kicked in the face by police. Pregnant woman slammed to ground by police. See the shocking video. Police arrest woman waiting for her children to use the bathroom, Police taze man waiting for his daughter to get out of daycare. See the shocking video. Police shoot man for following the directions The Police gave him. My feed would be 100% this. There would no longer be a Carvell. Just post after post after post to prove that it matters. That it’s happening and it matters. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Inspiration, Manifestation Workshops

Not Just For The Ladies.

September 24, 2014

By David Krause.

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black

 

Note from Jen: David just attended one of my workshops in South Dakota and posted this on my Facebook wall. I am blown away, to say the least.

ManifestStation Workshops-Not Just for the Girls.

I was in Santa Monica last April visiting some friends and thought I’d try yoga.

Jen instructed the 2nd class I ever attended (I had no idea how big of a deal she is-I was pretty lucky). I struggled through class but loved it. Afterward I thanked her for being patient with a rookie from South Dakota. She laughed and invited me to her workshop in Sioux Falls, SD in September. ‘See you there!’ I said, having no idea what a workshop was, but struck mainly by her enthusiasm and energy.

Months later, I learned that 1-Jen is a legend in the yoga world, and 2-yoga workshops involve journaling and talking about feelings.

I like to play sports, climb mountains, shoot trap, fly fish, and look for sweet deals on shotgun shells to shoot trap with. So I don’t have a journal, and I will listen to anyone talk about their feelings but don’t do much with mine. Skeptical about attending, I thought Jen would forget and I could stay in my comfort zone.

More months later, Jen remembered, and wrote on my Facebook timeline where, when, and that I should bring a journal.

Like an absolute goofball, I messaged her – ‘what is class like? I don’t journal much. I’m not sure if this is for me.’ She got down to brass tacks and told me it’s about getting out of my comfort zone.

For 3 hours that night I could be found 100 miles from my nearest comfort zone-45 female yoga pros and the lone male in his late 20s.

It was totally necessary and entirely enlightening. I could end up being pretty damn boring if I’m focused only on being a resident the next 5 or 6 years. I could miss the moments in life to smile, to make somebody smile, and to be fully human.

I could neglect current relationships and not make new ones.

But for 3 hours Jen led and taught me how to prevent that with introspection and a consistent sense of wonder. Jen has that light which lets you know she’s fully human. It is evident that she feels more intensely, more keenly, more loudly. She’s sharing that with the world-the boys just need to show up with an open mind.

And yes . . . a journal!” ~ David in South Dakota.

 

Note from Jen again: Hi, it’s me again. I wanted to share this for the men. You can come. You see? It’s not just for the ladies!  See you Sat in NYC!
10569084_607120719811_4370855344878133855_n

For a list of Jen’s upcoming events click here. 

click to order Simplereminders new book.

click to order Simplereminders new book.

Guest Posts, Inspiration, Self Image

The Frenemy in the Mirror.

September 12, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black

By Georgia Kolias.

I walked through my bedroom door with a pile of laundry in my arms, clean clothes destined for dresser drawers. On leaving the room, I realized that my four-year-old daughter was standing in front of the full-length mirror. When we bought our house, we realized the previous owners must have been giants. The bathroom mirrors were high enough that I could only see my head floating up around the bottom of the medicine cabinet door. There were no other mirrors in the house and that suited me just fine. Looking at my body in the mirror was not usually something I wanted to do. Not because I have an unusually horrific deformity that I can’t face, but just because mirrors are a tool of the devil. You can either become bewitched by allowing yourself to feel validated and worthy because you like what you see, or they can become instruments of delusional torture in those moments when you aren’t feeling your best, your clothes feel awkward on your body, and the unavoidable critical voice in your head narrates rude descriptions of your flaws. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, healing, Inspiration

I am a Native New Yorker.

September 11, 2014

By Jody Hagemann.

I am a native New Yorker and an only child. I was twenty five years old. The doctors called at around 8:45 am on September 11, 2001 to let my mother know she had lung cancer. The phone call was cut off when the one of the Twin Towers came down. My parents tried to call the doctors back, to no avail.

Where was I?

My parents knew I was on a plane in Cleveland about to depart for Madison, Wisconsin at 9 am for business. We were removed from the plane, told something happened in New York and we could not fly that day. In the airport, an announcement was made that a plane with a bomb on board was heading towards the Cleveland airport and we were to evacuate immediately. I ran with hundreds of others out the front door of the airport into the bright blue sky and onto the nearby expressway. There was silence. We stood, we waited, heard nothing. Not a plane in the sky.

No plane with a bomb ever appeared. (Later on we realized it was the plane that went down in Shanksville, PA – it had come into the Cleveland airspace).

Continue Reading…

courage, Guest Posts, Inspiration

Selma Swelter.

September 3, 2014

By Travis Turner.

She asked me the night before she left, why I could never leave. Why I never mustered the courage to get out. Was I so scared to go? I could never give her an answer. Until now, anyway. Selma is halfway to Montgomery. Halfway from where we grew up. Halfway home for us.

At the Performing Arts Center in the middle of an Alabama sweat-drenched day, I stand here waiting in line for a casting audition. The anticipation of becoming something other than myself makes me drunk. An old man stumbles up off the street, his face cracked with lines from a life of hard work. His breath and body steam of alcohol from the night before.

Continue Reading…

Forgiveness, Guest Posts, healing, Inspiration

e-Stranged.

August 27, 2014

By Amy Ferris.

I’m just letting you know straight up that this is not about my family.

It’s not. Been there, wrote that.

Besides, I don’t want to write about all that crap, that ugliness, all that god- awful sadness that went down. I mean, why write about that when I can write about, oh, I don’t know, falling into a hole, a depression, not being able to write, for I don’t know, months and months and months now?

I could write about going into therapy, and how I went on Zoloft, and yes, felt better, much better, but still couldn’t write. But that’s boring and tedious.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Inspiration, Owning It!

What’s in a Name?

August 25, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Antonia Malchik

My friends call me Nia. Since I left college and people started calling me by my legal name, the one my mother chose because her favorite book at the time I was born (so the story goes) was Willa Cather’s My Ántonia, “my friends call me Nia” is what I end up telling them, eventually. Once we get to know each other well enough that having them call me “Antonia,” like a stranger, feels odd.

“Nia” is not a nickname that’s easily explained like Katie or Jenny or Jess. It requires a story, a narrative—where it came from, its genesis. When I started working at real jobs, in offices where I was an employee or freelancer or temp, I had to make a choice: was I going to be in each office long enough to warrant erasing my legal name in favor of the one I’d used my whole life? Explaining made me squirm, like flinging open window into my interior person so strangers could peer around inside. Continue Reading…

%d bloggers like this: