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What It’s Like To Forgive Someone.

May 4, 2014

A piece I wrote a year and a half ago. Are you ready to get off the bus?


Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer living on an airplane. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Salon, among others. She’s the founder of The Manifest-Station. Jen’s leading a weekend retreat in May to Ojai, Calif as well as 4 day retreat over Labor Day in Ojai, Calif. She and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. Check out her site for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up is Seattle in May and London July 6. (London sells out fast so book soon if you plan on attending!)


One Dad’s Search for Beauty in His Daily Parenting Routine.

March 3, 2014

By Steve Edwards.

Before I tell you about the snowy owl I saw on Christmas or why I got pulled over by the police twice in the last three days, let me say a little about my life and daily routine. I’m a husband, a father of a four-year-old boy with special needs, and I have (and my wife does, too, for that matter) a full-time job. I teach a 4/4 load as an assistant professor—writing and literature courses, mostly—at a university in central Massachusetts, and the entirety of my paycheck goes to paying for my son’s medicine, doctor’s bills and specialized pre-school. My wife’s paycheck goes toward the rest of our expenses—rent, heat, food, student loans. We make good money but barely scrape by. Sometimes we try to laugh it off, calling it our “posh special needs lifestyle.”

I get up at six and make coffee. My wife has an hour commute and is out the door about the time our son leaps from bed and starts asking what’s for breakfast. I make him toast and get together his meds. He has four of them—I think. I’ve done this routine so many times, I do it without thinking at all really. But I think it’s four. Drops go in his milk. Then a plunger-vile of another prescription. Then a teaspoon of another. Then a capsule I break open over applesauce or sorbet.

After breakfast I turn on the TV for him so I can pack his lunch, pack my lunch, then set out his clothes for the day and iron my own clothes (though admittedly, I have a gray sweater and a pair of brown cords that are in pretty high rotation because they don’t have to be ironed.) Once I’ve gotten us ready for the day, my next big task is getting my son to put on his jacket. For some reason, the thought of wearing his jacket sends my son into apocalyptical fits. He will rage and cry and curl up in a ball in the corner. I would just take him outside without his jacket—hell with it—but it’s Massachusetts, and winter, and this morning it was 5 degrees. Some days, after I’ve gotten the jacket on him and gotten him out to the car, I say, “Oops. I forgot something inside. I’ll be right back.” Then I rush inside and let out a string of profanities at the top of my lungs.

After that, I drive an hour to my son’s special preschool (where, thank god, he gets amazing care and support). Then it’s another hour commute to my job. And that’s pretty much the morning—frenetic and mind-numbingly dull at the same time. The rest of the day, I meet with students and try to appear like a normal human to my colleagues who probably wonder why I am wearing that sweater and those cords AGAIN. After work, I race home, clean up the breakfast dishes and prepare dinner for my wife and son who are both exhausted from their days, and cranky (as am I, most nights). An hour of after-dinner television or music and it’s bedtime for my son. You can imagine how well this goes over: he yells, screams, swats at us, cries his eyes out, and then—once he’s finally in bed—turns so angelic I hate to say goodnight because this is the only good part of the day. “Sing me a song, Daddy,” he says. “Sing me ‘Thunder Road.’”

And of course I do. You have to.

That’s a typical day for us in what has been anything but a typical year. At the end of the summer, I had a kidney stone and had to make a midnight run to the emergency room. Two days later, with no warning at all, our son’s preschool (a different one from where he goes now) said he needed a full-time aide or they wouldn’t allow him back. Spoiler alert: we didn’t think he needed a full-time developmental aide, and we couldn’t have afforded a full-time developmental aide even if we did. So they effectively booted him from preschool two days after my kidney stone and only a week before my fall semester started. After a mad scramble to find him a new school—because if we didn’t find him a new school, either my wife or I would have had to quit our jobs in order to pay for the services our son did, in fact, need—after all that, my wife got sick with pneumonia. She hacked and coughed and was practically bed-ridden for three and a half weeks in the month of October.

Then (yes, there’s more) after she had recovered, she slipped while carrying our sleeping boy from the car to the house and badly damaged her left knee. She was on crutches for a month, and, thankfully, only needed a cortisone shot and not full blown reconstructive surgery. But she was in severe pain every day, and it often woke her at night if she shifted in her sleep. And none of these challenges, of course, made it any easier for my wife or I to do our jobs, to work with our special needs child, or manage the bills that kept pouring in like so much floodwater in a basement.

So it doesn’t surprise me that, through it all, I forgot to get the sticker for my car that certifies it has been inspected by the state to meet emissions standards. In Massachusetts it’s something you have to do every year, and, as an environmentalist, I’m glad the state makes at least a cursory effort to protect our air and water. That’s why I drive a Prius—to lessen my environmental impact. But what can I say, Prius or not: I forgot to get the inspection. I didn’t have the sticker.

The first day I got pulled over was a Wednesday morning after a big snowstorm, and preschool had been delayed for two hours. This meant that instead of prepping for the class I had to teach that afternoon, I was watching Barney & Friends with my kid. I drove by the police car, it pulled out behind me and the lights came on.

The officer took my license and registration back to his cruiser and ran them through his computer, then returned and pointed out my expired state inspection sticker. I was frustrated by the delay in an already delayed day, and annoyed that that was the reason he had pulled me over (Didn’t he have something better to do?), but I thanked the officer for only giving me a warning ticket and was on my way. The encounter took about fifteen minutes, and I made mental plans to get the inspection on Saturday. Which is exactly what I explained to the officer who pulled me over this morning for the exact same reason. Only this time I was driving my son to an early 8 a.m. appointment with his speech therapist and we were on a busy stretch of road.

We were on a busy stretch of road at the busiest time of the morning commute. I passed the police car, thought about Wednesday morning’s episode, and breathed a sigh of relief when it didn’t pull out behind me. But then—off in the distance, in my rearview mirror: flashing blue lights. Surely, I thought, he can’t be rushing after me. He wouldn’t force the eight or ten cars behind me, at the height of the morning commute, to pull over just so he could hassle me for having an expired state inspections sticker on my Prius on the way to take my special needs child to speech therapy.


“License and registration,” the officer said as the cars on the road whooshed by and my son repeatedly asked why the police man was talking to us.

I handed the officer my license and registration, and I showed him the warning ticket I’d gotten on Wednesday. I told him that I had made arrangements to get the inspection done on Saturday.

“Just be sure you do that,” he said sternly, handing back my papers. “You’re two months expired. You’re living on borrowed time.”

“I’m going Saturday,” I said again.

“It only takes fifteen-twenty minutes,” he said.

I told him a third time that I would get it done Saturday and thanked him, and after we had started off down the road and the officer had turned, I banged the steering wheel and in frustration yelled, “FUCK!”

And in back my son said, “FUCK!”

Before we got pulled over this morning, I had been thinking that I would write something about Beauty and the necessity of Beauty for getting through hard times. I had been thinking about our trip on Christmas Day. We drove out to the coast, north of Boston—just the three of us—to gorgeous Plum Island and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. It was cold but clear. Fourteen degrees. Breezy. Along one of the roads by the water some cars were stopped, and some people had big-lensed cameras held up to their faces. They had spotted a snowy owl. At my wife’s suggestion, I pulled over and grabbed my binoculars and ran out to catch a glimpse of the bird.

Before getting pulled over this morning, I thought I would reflect on the incredible and almost healing beauty of that owl’s stoic countenance among the rustling beach grasses, the Atlantic gleaming like a dark blue crystal in the distance. I wanted to say: THIS. This matters. Beauty matters.

But after getting pulled over, that sweet thought was gone, replaced by adrenaline and anger and resentment.

I wanted to tell the officer that I didn’t have fifteen minutes to just buzz by and get an inspection, that we all lived on borrowed time. I wanted to tell my son not to say the F-word. I wanted to tell myself not to say the F-word in front of my son. I wanted my wife to again be the healthy, happy and wonderful woman I had married five years ago, and I wanted to again be her healthy, happy and wonderful husband, and not the sleep-deprived, stressed out, anxious, grumpy mess I had become. I wanted my son to just be better. To be healed somehow. To not yell and scream and cry all the time. To not be overcome by mysterious waves of gut pain. To not say to his mother in stern tones: “Mommy, you are NOT my friend! YOU ARE NOT!” I wanted us all to feel good for a change. I wanted that, and the only thing I could do was to keep driving and breathe deep and hope that that owl might glide back into my thoughts on silent wings.


*This article originally appeared on The Good Men Project.

Steve Edwards lives in Massachusetts with his wife and son. He is author of the memoir Breaking into the Backcountry, the story of his seven months of solitude as the caretaker of a 95-acre homestead along the Rogue National Wild and Scenic River in southern Oregon. You can find him online at and @The_Big_Quiet on Twitter.

Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer living on an airplane and the founder of The Manifest-Station.  She’s leading a 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 for all levels. She and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. Check out her site for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up is NYC in March followed by Dallas, Seattle and London. 


What Are You Manifesting?

February 21, 2014

Love love love this. Follow this blog!! You will see Joules on another retreat of mine soon. Maybe Costa Rica even?


the phone rings

February 5, 2014

If you don’t follow this blog yet, do it. Like now. Like right now 🙂 xo jen
ps, this poem takes my breath away.


Silence Over Coffee

January 20, 2014

One of my closest friends, and my editor at large for most of my work lately.. Angela Giles. Check out her essay on TMS as well. Follow this blog, tribe. Seriously.


Holy Sh*t!

December 6, 2013

Holy Shit By Tim Heath Leuzarder


Right now, I am on Cape Cod-staying in the home of a good friend. 

This friend (who shall remain nameless) is living what appears to be the “perfect” life.  She has a terrific, loving husband.  She owns her own business.  Her home looks like it could be showcased in an interior design magazine.   If life is a race, she’s leading the pack.

My friend with the home on ‘The Cape’ makes her living as a problem solver for people and organizations.  She has perfected her ability to listen, assess and prescribe solutions that work for her clients.  She is also a Class A manifester.  In other words, she makes shit happen.  She knows how to get stuff done.

So why am I going on about this?

My friend is navigating through a big issue right now in her personal life.  She’s about to go through a major surgery that will permanently close the door on her ability to conceive a child.  Although she’s had a few years to gradually accept that birthing a child is an unlikely outcome for her, this surgery will transform unlikely into virtually impossible.  In a way, it’s as if she is suffering over the soon to be death of her un-conceived child(ren).

What happens when the problem solving, inspirational, motivational, get-it-done, positive, have-his/her-shit-together person is in crisis? Who do they turn to when life throws them a curve ball?  Are they so wrapped up in being the problem solver, life-saver for other people that they gloss over their own need for help when they really need it?

Some of us are so wrapped up in trying to think or be ‘positive’, that we do our damndest to bury the ‘negative’.  The problem is that when we bury something within ourselves, we’re keeping it.


Let’s think about shit for a minute—as a metaphor.

Shit stinks.  It’s nasty.  It is the un-needed, nutritionally bereft by-product that we wish to remove.  It’s also a part of life.

Our vernacular is very ‘shit’ friendly.  We use that word to describe:

Hard Times

“I’m going through some shit”


“Holy Shit”


“You’re the shit”

Exclamation of Joy, Shock, Surprise, Love, Etc


Shit is shit.  You can’t polish shit.  Well…you can try, but polishing it doesn’t make it less shitty.  It is what it is.

My friend is going through some shit in her life.  The worst thing she can do is try to keep it to herself.  Can you imagine trying to keep yourself from shitting???  You’d eventually die.  Shit is meant to move through us.  It is waste product.  It’s what we don’t need and yet, it’s a necessary bi-product of the stuff we DO need.  Shit is meant to be disposed of.  It’s not meant to stay hidden within us.

If we are having a tough time getting rid of our shit, we may need to ask for help.  It may be that we are processing life in a way that is causing us problems.  We may need more fiber, less sugar, consistent amounts of this or a hint of that.  If we are feeling shitty, we may be well served to share with other people who are equipped to help us move things along.  We may need help distinguishing between nutrition and waste.

Is there anything in your life that causes you to feel shitty?  Are you keeping it to yourself?  Are you polishing shit and passing it off as something else?

If so, let someone know!!!

My friend from The Cape is always available to help me navigate through my own garbage.  I can call her for just about anything.  She also knows that she can come to me to discuss anything.  I have been a coach for her and she has been a coach for me.    Our relationship has been forged and strengthened because of our willingness to discuss our crap without wallowing in it.  We LISTEN to one another generously.

We will all do well to surround ourselves with people who can help us process things that don’t serve us.  As long as we are open to sharing our shit with the world, we can live big, healthy, fulfilling lives.  If the days of holding on to our shit turns into weeks, months and/or years—we won’t be able to operate at our highest levels.

Do you want to operate at your highest level? 

If so, you can do the following:

1.     Acknowledge your shit.

2.     Talk about it with a trusted advisor/therapist/friend.

3.     Dump what doesn’t serve you.

4.     Move on powerfully, in the direction of your dreams, feeling lighter.

Sound good? 

Also, there is an added bonus.  When we follow these steps, we are also inspiring the world around us to do the same.  Can you imagine how wonderful the world will be once we all dispose of our un-needed waste properly?

Holy Shit!


Tim Heath Leuzarder is a New York Based Writer, Actor, Director, Coach and Sales Professional.  His one-man play, “Mentor-ized” has enjoyed sold out performances in 2013 at the United Solo Festival, The Barrow Group and The People’s Improv Theatre in NYC.  The show (in which Tim portrays 9 characters) is a dramatic comedy geared toward inspiring audiences to follow their dreams.

He is currently producing and directing the documentary, “Skipping Joy” with Unlikely Hero Productions (  The film, which takes a deep and humorous look at the universal practice of skipping (as in…to skip down the street), is slated for completion in early 2014.  

Tim is also a certified life coach, hypnotist and NLP practitioner.  He has worked with artists and sales professionals who want to break through personal barriers to achieve more in their careers.  Tim is interested in taking his knowledge of coaching, sales and the arts to create fun, entertaining, and hopefully poignant works of writing, theatre and film.