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Steve Bridges

Little Seal, loss, Steve Bridges, Things I Have Lost Along The Way

Getting Made.

February 15, 2013

This time a year ago I was leaving Mexico.

I was on a boat. I was on a boat leaving Mexico and if I knew that it was the last time I would be seeing my friend Steve I would’ve asked the boat to turn around and I would have gone back and back and back farther. All the way if I could where nothing was blinding and everything was dark and still in the way things are right before they go bad.

A year ago I sat on a plane, like I am as I write this, and I ordered a glass of wine as I looked through my photos of the retreat and I laughed at the videos of Steve and thought How I love this man. How I love this man.

A year ago I came back from Mexico and laid on my sofa feeling pancake flat and Steve texted me I am laying on my friend’s couch and I can’t stop thinking about our trip. I wish we were back there. Wow. I wrote back me too and in my pancake way I stood up and put on shoes to go teach my yoga class but I knew something had shifted, something was gone, and maybe that was why I felt flat or maybe it was natural after a trip like that to feel so much I want to be back. To feel it so much in your bones that they won’t even carry you. They turn you into a pancake. Pancake yoga teacher. Nothing. Flat. Pancake person.

When he died, I texted him I want to be back. I want to be back even though I knew he was dead.

We made videos the night before we left Mexico. Like little time bombs with messages on them that we planned to watch in a year’s time. When it was Steve’s turn he looked into the camera and said, That was fun. Let’s do it again next year. Hell, let’s do it again next month.

He died within the month.

This morning I got the text that I had been waiting for, the one I knew would come today or tomorrow or yesterday. Ronan died. One of my best friends, the beloved writer Emily Rapp, lost her two year old son this morning as I zipped up my suitcase to head for the airport for my Hawaii yoga retreat. His suffering is over she wrote. His short and remarkable life she wrote. I am numb she texted me privately.

I am numb too. I am on a flight to Maui and I feel nothing. I am hungry. I am not hungry. I am sad. Am I sad? I feel nothing. Where does the pain go?

Its floating up here on the airplane and I am sure will make it’s way up to my seat if we don’t crash. What happened? How does a mind process this? (I will have the cheese omelette and not the cereal, please.) Ronan died and it’s for the best says the very best intentioned platitudes. My friend Robert Wilder held him for an hour yesterday. I asked him what it was like. Everything he said. It was everything.

What’s it like to hold a dying baby for one hour? One hour in a short life is like ten years in a normal life span. (What is a normal life span?) What’s it like to hold a dying baby for ten years? He got to feel his last little oomphs right there in his arms (imagine that!) and hold his small fingers (maybe he intertwined them in his own?) He got to brush a few hairs from his eyes and pass him back to his grandparents or his mom and he got to feel a life right there in his arms which would disappear in less than 24 hours into That’s it and It’s over but he got to hold that and stop time for ten years because in a dying baby’s life one hour is equal to ten years. He got to do that and I am glad for that. I love him for that. For being there for Emily and Ronan when I couldn’t.

It makes you want to stop lying.

Why lie when this can happen? When a person can be born and then just like that It’s Over, It’s done. He’s gone.

Why tell untruths as if people care?

I keep having this recurring dream where I am driving and the brakes don’t work. The other night I had it again. I was driving in Philadelphia, over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. The brakes wouldn’t work. I tried pressing my foot into the brake and it only accelerated the car which wasn’t even my car. I swerved in and out of lanes so I wouldn’t hit anyone. It was all my untruths rushing at me. In the dream I somehow made it to safety and pulled out a paper where I had put a big X through a box that said “Brakes.” I had shut them off myself.

The greatest lie that was ever told was that you are safe. It’s the lie I still want someone to tell me though. (Say it to me?)

Say it to me.

Other lies have been both monumental and petty but with the news of a baby’s death comes a yearning for honesty. There is nothing else. I love you to all the people I love. I don’t care to all the things I don’t care about, and there are as many as the things I do care about. I am happy. I am not happy. All of it. Truths and lies and some half way in betweens.

Once, on a road trip, there was a deer along Route 70, just outside Cody, Wyoming. His eyes, the color of headlights. He recognized me immediately. (He was no stranger to regret and he spotted mine immediately ). And with his four chambered stomach and eyes on the sides of his head, I knew his type too. The cautious, the time-takers, the digesters.

Unlike him: I am impulsive as a flood.

But we knew each other, me and that deer. For the ten years or two seconds he stood there in the road in front of our car.

A basic law of the universe: the implications of what’s been said always mean more than what actually has been said. My deer understood this algebra, this economy of language and therefore didn’t say much. Me: I spit it out as I feel it when and if I feel it. Unlike my deer, I do not contemplate my cud.

I love you! I love you!

The lies I have told have mainly been to myself but others have been to save face.

There is no more of that. Do you get what I am saying? It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks because once you have held Ronan in your arms for ten years or one hour you see that what is important is the life we make, right here and now. You may not have been the one holding him in your arms for ten years but you get the metaphor. You get the as if. You can almost smell Ronan in his baby old man smell.

The life you make here and now. Not the lies or the I dropped out of college because I was half dead and freezing but I will lie about it so you don’t judge me. No one cares. It does not matter. It’s the life you make here and now because after you get the text that he dies you realize that all you ever had were the moments of holding him, the minutes with Steve in Mexico, the half-seconds with people you love.

I don’t know how fast it feels at the end, but my guess is that it feels like ten years.  Or maybe 6 months. Maybe less or more. But it won’t feel like much. It will feel like all you had were breaths and moments and a few snapshots with the sun in your eyes there like that. You will squint to remember the way the light felt in your eyes, to recreate that, and, everything else that was blinding and bright and yours.

I love you. The words alive like velvet antlers. Words made of bone. They need a way out! I must speak them. I must tell no more lies. The life that you make here and now. Here and now.

Words: make, here, now, love. Remember them.

The old deer had made it through once more, one more near miss across an ocean of cars, a scuffle of rain and a sky full of mistakes. He’d found a pair of eyes (mine!) to lock into before going back into the world, alone and foraging.

It makes you want to stop lying, to climb onto the wing of the plane and hang there if you knew you could and sob and swing and fall into clouds like you would if you were a cartoon and could always be safe in a cartoon-world. You could sleep on a nimbus cloud and wake up and ten years will be ten years rather than an hour. It makes you want to stop lying and run into the arms of all your beloveds (your lucky if you have a even a handful) and tell them to keep you there. Hang on to me, tight like this. Tight like this. Keep me here. It makes you want to admit that lying is worthless and dirty and that nothing matters, not really anyway so might as well buck up and say I love you or I don’t love you or I am so broken or I wish you didn’t die or Yea, I get that your spirit is with me forever but God-damn-it I want your body. Forget the spirit! I will trade it for your body and smell and fingers. It makes you want to forget everything and remember everything with equal measure. It makes you want to cry for days and beg the gods or the scientists or luck to leave you alone and leave everyone alone that you love. It makes you want to live like you were meant to all along even in the moments of self-hatred. It makes you all these things.

It makes you.

Emily and Ronan. Order her book by clicking the picture.

Emily and Ronan. Order her book by clicking the picture.


Please read this by Robert Wilder asap. Mindblowingly good.


Click poster to order Simplereminders new book via,

Click poster to order Simplereminders new book via,

Jennifer Pastiloff, Beauty Hunter, is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Salon, among others. Jen’s leading one of her signature retreats to Ojai, Calif. over New Years. Check out for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up: South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Kripalu Center For Yoga & Health, Tuscany.She is also leading a Writing + The Body Retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch Jan 30-Feb 1 in Ojai (2 spots left.) She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.

Inspiration, Manifestation Retreats, Steve Bridges, Travels

The Unearthing of Things

November 27, 2012

photo by Madison Rosner

Sitting outside our private villa in Ulutwatu, the breeze just enough to be deemed perfect, and I wonder if I am really here. I must be. Awan, one of the staff here at Uluwatu Surf Villas, just brought us out our morning eggs (yes, he comes into the villa every morning and prepares us breakfast to our liking.) My eggs a little less runny, Robert gets the toast and the weird flourescent jam. We both drink the coffee, me always going for the second and third cup, my husband always the moderate one, taking one cup and sipping it slowly. I must be here. I can see the ants crawling all over the table. (They don’t bother me.) I see the ocean just past our private little pool (a private pool!). I hear the sound of the waves crashing, one of the rare occasions the ringing in my ears is lessened. I must be here. I must be.

So it’s established. Here I am.

Is it the being here or the memory of being here that I am after?

Is it the having had it happen or the ability to write about it in such a way that I can make you feel as if it happened for you too?

I am not sure.

From Wikipedia:

Memory is the processes by which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved. 

I am equally in love with floating in the pool naked, a light rain falling and an almost full moon above as I am with the drinking of a Bintang and the being able to tell you about it in words that will (I hope) last forever, longer than the sea, longer even than me. I know there are different types of people. I get that. The types of people that are so present, who wouldn’t dream of the moment meaning anything than what it was.

You’d think I would be that way, being a yoga teacher and everything. I am here. I am. I strive to be present but there is something in me that screams Hey! This is your dharma. You were meant to share this. Who are you to keep this locked in your mind? Go! Go now and write!

So I am here, indeed. I am here with every intention to send my experiences out in capsules for you to open and discover what it is you want to share. What it is you want to feel. Where it is you want to go.

People often ask me how I have such a steel trap memory. My sister and I both. (Although as I have aged my memory has become less steel-like and more sponge-like.) Here’s the thing: when you lose a parent so young, all you have are your memories of him bringing you home chocolate covered marshmallows and carving magic wands out of sticks and seesaws by the Cooper River Park in the rain. That is all you have so you preserve them and seal them so they can never disintigrate into I don’t remembers. You become an expert memory maker. You have no choice really, because how else could you survive?

Your imagination must have someplace to call home.

My imagination is calling this home: The rain clicking its heels on the swimming pool here in Bali. The nothing to do-ness that comes with being on vacation and just how inspiring that nothing to do-ness can be. Floating on a surfboard in the Indian Ocean, the red sun a character in your life like an ex-lover or a grandfather with its legendary personality. The twin girls dancing a traditional Balinese dance, moving their fingers precisely, elegantly, in a way my stubby hands could never coordinate themselves to do on their own. Their eyes darting left and right, each sharp movement a story with a beginning, middle and end. The sky opening up and letting in color that no camera can talk about. Not even on a good day. Secret colors and gestures that fall apart when an iPhone tries to lock them in. The happiness here. The happiness here is where I am calling home. It is getting placed next to: my father eating his nightly chocolate ice cream in between two waffles with powdered sugar on top and my summer at Bucknell University churning out poems before bed like they were sleeping pills. I will place it next to my retreat last February in Mexico, the last time I saw my dear friend Steve Bridges before he died and how close our eyes were there, for that long moment above the beach there in Puerta Vallarta as he told me he could never leave the earth before having a family and how we became that family because he did leave the earth. Too suddenly and too soon not a month later and that moment we shared was the best conversation and the most treasured I have ever had with anyone so as I sit here in the rain in Bali I am placing this pool and this palm tree and these offerings for the gods right there next to Steve.

My imagination is that large. It can hold it all.

That line above makes me feel Walk Whitman-esque: Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes. 

Who can explain why the value of something increases, decreases. Or what we choose to store as memories? Why we fall in love with someone, as quick as the pressing of your face into their shoulder blade as you ride on the back of their motorcycle, the wind slapping you with confirmation- Yes! This is love! Or a moment like the one when you watch them sleep and a surge of protectiveness knocks you awake. You want to make sure they take the next breath, and the next.

You want to watch them forever.

We never know where we will find our history, where we will discover what has formed us, what we will find in the rice paddies. Exhuming beauty from the soil, excavating remains.

The unearthing of things long forgotten.

Part of the way memory works is by being able to locate it and return it to our consciousness. How can we do that if we haven’t saved it? What are your ways of saving it? What are you saving?

This is an important question. Think hard before you respond. What are you storing up in there? I hope it isn’t traffic jams and being pissed off and upset and gossip although, hey, I am not perfect and I have some of that up there. I am making room though. I am pushing it aside and making room for this watermelon and these flowers and my husband at Padang Padang Beach in Bali and what it feels like to have achieved a dream like this.

And what does it feel like?

It feels like a sigh. It feels like a dropping the shoulders down away from the ears and returning as well as a departure. It feels like a bumpy car ride along Balinese country-side and it also feels like my sofa at home with a glass of wine in my hand. It feels like all of me and also a part I have yet to know. Or rather, yet to remember.

Because it has always been there, hasn’t it?

It has always been there next to my father and my grandmother and my little 3 year old nephew showing me how he “drops in” on the skateboard ramp and all the other memories I have sought out to bring back into consciousness, it has always been there but like the red sun I had just thought it was a myth.

I did not believe it until I saw it and felt it and reached up into the sky to call it mine before sending it back into the world.



by Madison Rosner

by Madison Rosner

Steve Bridges and I.

poetry, Steve Bridges, There Are No Words To Describe This

What I Learned From Steve Bridges 1963-2012.

March 9, 2012

Last night my friend stopped by and as we sat on the floor of my house, she asked me “What do you think you learned from Steve? What did he teach you?”

In case you didn’t read my earlier posts, my dear friend Steve Bridges died suddenly in his sleep last Saturday morning. Click here to read about him and see photos and videos.

Although I had thought a lot about this all throughout the week, it wasn’t until Annie asked me and I had to say it aloud that I got very clear on the things I had learned from him.

Not from his death but from his life.

He taught me to love my life.

As we were laughing and boarding the plane to Mexico for my retreat in January, he looked me in the eyes and said ” I have a great life, Jen.”

He truly loved his life and lived joyously.

He taught me to be present.

He taught me to listen.

I wrote a poem called One Rose To Another years ago but I think I am going to read it at Steve Bridge’s memorial as it feels fitting.

It gives me the chills when I go back and read it now:

One Rose To Another by Jen Pastiloff

This is how you live when you are close to death.

As I do: as through the dappled light of a linen curtain.

I am the most beautiful now I have ever been.

The sun hardly touches me.

But enough is enough.

I’ve had my sun, my moon, my loves infinite as promises-

I get enough light now that I am perched here at this brink.

Pulling farther away from my lover, from my own body.

We’ve lasted longer than expected.

I have few regrets.

Had the stages of my life been clear to me all along

instead of in a flash when my heart finally sprung awake-

that slight palpitation as I flushed a pink so perfect

the earth even took notice and stopped breathing for a moment,

my own insides balking at my beauty.

I regret its taken me so long to see it.

All that I love is right here with me-

We have a little time left my love,

this puddle of water we’ve been breathing

is not quite gone

we have some time left in this glass bottle.

This is how we live when we are close to death.

As I do.

Dreaming quietly of the seed dropping,

that first morning, that first breath as our lungs opened,

our petals still just a thought under soil.

The words: I am the rose, and by extension, all that is good in the world

still part of the sky, the rain, dew.


“I regret it’s taken me so long to see it.” 

I never want to look back on my life and say that.

This is what I learned from Steve.

He looked at his life and said “I love my life. I have a great life.”

Like it says in the poem I wrote, he taught me that I am: the rose, and by extension, all that is good in the world.

My connection with him ran so deep because he saw my “I Am” before I saw it myself.

Now you can see what a gift he has given me indeed. Why I have finally come up with a title for my book: I Am-ness.

We did the I Am-ness exercise at my workshops and retreats he attended.  Someone declares what they are in the form of: I am _______. This is followed by staring in someone else’s eyes for 3 minutes with that truth.

His “I am” was: Love.

Like in the poem, he taught me that “I am the most beautiful now I have ever been”.

Right now.

Thank you, Steve. I too am love.

I realize this now.

Until we meet again.

I’ve got some work to do here.

manifesting, Steve Bridges

What The Heck Does It Mean “To Manifest”?

March 8, 2012

What Are You Manifesting?

Manifesting, according to Jen Pastiloff means: Making Sh*t Happen! 

If you want to have something show up in your life you must first be able to imagine it. For a long time, this wasn’t an option for me. I simply could not un-see myself as: stuck, unworthy, lost, a non-working actress, “just” a waitress, a failure, among other non-fabulous things.

It’s like when you feel happy. It seems that you’ve always been happy and that you will always be happy. We also feel this way when we are sad, lonely, depressed, scared, heartbroken. I felt like I would always feel lonely, scared, depressed, lost and like a really bad waitress who spilled things on people. (How I lasted 13 years is truly beyond me.)

And then one day I didn’t feel that way anymore.

After 13 years of working in the same Los Angeles restaurant I decided to take a yoga teacher training with Annie Carpenter after coming to terms with the fact that yoga was keeping me from being hospitalized for depression daily. To make a long story short, I found my calling. I taught my first yoga class and can safely say, I knew I had a gift.

Was teaching yoga my gift? Not necessarily. It was what I always knew was my gift, even as a child: I could connect with people. I could provide a space for people to heal with my touch or my words or my humor or my music or my eyes. It didn’t matter to me, per se. What mattered is that I found something I wanted to do and I found an avenue to do it. After years of walking down the wrong street, I found a different avenue and I started to sprint.

Shortly after I taught my first class I was able to quit my waitressing job. I can only attribute my success to finally connecting to my purpose and finding what I was meant to be doing with my life. Finally allowing myself to imagine what was possible.

I started to believe in myself. I started to take risks. I smiled more. I got into a healthy relationship (now my husband), I healed from an eating disorder. I accepted my hearing loss. I admitted I actually had no desire to be an actress. Gasp! I changed my thoughts. I finally was able to say  I love what I do and I do what I love.

I decided to call my company Manifestation Yoga after listening to my teacher Wayne Dyer talk about manifesting at length. After years of having negative tapes run the show in my brain, I made room for new thoughts. Those new thoughts allowed me to take action, where before I felt stuck and incapable of moving. I realized that I had manifested the life I always wanted but had never allowed myself to imagine before.

Manifesting is not about sitting in a corner and wishing for something and then having it appear like some kind of fairy tale. Although that would be nice. It is a lot of work indeed. But before the work, there must be the thought. There must be imagination.

Even Einstein says that imagination is more important than knowledge. I started to use my imagination. I changed what my old tape, or mantra, was, as I call it in my classes nowadays. It used to be: I am nothing. I changed it to: I am powerful. I am on purpose. I am a successful yoga teacher and writer. I am a healer.  I am an inspirer ( I think I made that last word up.)

In my workshops I have people do an exercise called “ I am-ness.” (Pretty sure I made that word up, as well.) They get a partner and tell that person their own I am-ness. I ask them to finish the sentence I am ______. It cannot be I am hungry or I am broke or I am tired etc. (I knew from experience that these I Am’s didn’t get you very far.) I ask them: Who would you be if nobody told you who you were?

They then answer that powerful question and fill in the blank after I am, sharing it with their partner. This, of course, is according to their own imagination. After each has declared who they are, they stare into each other’s eyes for three solid minutes with no talking. They simply sit and witness the “I am” within themselves and in turn, in the other person. It takes not only imagination to declare the new “ I am”but a willingness. To sit and let someone look into your eyes for that long, especially after you have declared this I am, takes courage.

Some laugh and some cry and some squirm. Most have a profound revelation about what is possible when they decide to imagine who they are and declare it as their own truth. They then watch someone witness them in that very truth.

I will leave you with this: One of my dearest friends and students, Steve Bridges, died suddenly on Saturday in his sleep. He was with me in Mexico in February for my last and most profound retreat. After his death, the other retreat attendees started writing him posthumous letters. One said this:

You have profoundly affected my life. Especially when I stared into your eyes for three amazing minutes during yoga, and what I wrote down afterwards was: Steve= powerful, being, creator of love, confidence, kindness, strong. Power… I felt my power in his. The next day I said to you “ Steve, All I saw was power. It was amazing. I saw no fear.” And you looked at me with those brilliant blues and kindly said “Thank you”.

This is what manifesting is. Looking into someone’s eyes, especially your own, and declaring who you are. It is being with that truth. It is acting from that truth, and no matter what, and no matter who tells you different, absolutely living from thatassumption of who you are.

I use Steve Bridges as an example, not to make you sad about his passing, but to see what he was able to accomplish. He not only conveyed that he was powerful and a creator of love, but he allowed someone else to be in their own power. That is what a manifester does. And notice what he said in response. He said Thank you.

Imagination, action and gratitude. That’s it.

So I ask you: What are you manifesting?

Our beloved Steve Bridges. RIP.

Jennifer Pastiloff will be teaching at the Tadasana International Yoga & Music Festival over Earth Day weekend on the beach in Santa Monica, CA, April 20– 22. Click here to check out the festival website and purchase tickets. Enter the code Pastiloff for a $50 discount! (Please note that discount codes expire April 1.)