Browsing Tag

afraid

Abuse, Anonymous, courage, Guest Posts, healing

There Are The Things I Remember.

February 26, 2015

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TRIGGER WARNING This article or section, or pages it links to, contain information about sexual assault and/or rape which may be triggering to survivors.

 

By Anonymous.

“I felt as if I were already redefining it, already dropping (ahead? behind?) into a state of retrospection.  I was worried that my memory wouldn’t do me any favours; that it would only make things worse… A constant tug of war: wanting to remember, wanting to forget… How was this journey, this movement to be mapped?”

– Emily Rapp, The Still Point of the Turning World                                    

 

Memory can be a tricky thing.  Our genetic makeup is clever; if something happens to us and we aren’t strong enough to remember, our mind and body has mechanisms to make that memory go away or to minimize the damage of the memory’s daily impact.

I never forgot being raped.  I had memories of it, but I pushed them away until they didn’t bother coming around anymore.  But my secrets were impacting my insides deeply, and then the memories came back daily on their own, knocking, seeking acknowledgement.

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Guest Posts, motherhood, Race/Racism

Warnings For My Sons.

February 24, 2015

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By Seema Reza.

The first time I read about the murder of Tamir Rice, a 12 year old boy shot by Cleveland police for waving a toy gun at a playground, I tell my sons, eight and fourteen, to pause the television. We are watching a show called Once Upon a Time, based on fairy tale characters who are dealing with the ultimate curse: reality. I read them the whole article, word for word, from the link I clicked on my Facebook feed. I read them Tamir Rice’s father’s words, “He didn’t know what he was doing. He was only twelve.”

They pay attention to my words in the way they do only when I am telling them something in this tone of voice–a voice I cannot fake–the scared quivering that sounds like a squint. We are cramped on the couch in the apartment we moved to when I left their father, our legs piled on top of one another. The television is paused on one or another fair-skinned, flowing-haired heroine. On this show, every rescue emerges from doing the easily identified right thing, every curse is broken by the everlasting magic of true love.   Continue Reading…

Abuse, Dear Life., Guest Posts, healing

Dear Life: Why Can’t I Let Myself Be Happy?

January 28, 2015

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Welcome to Dear Life: An Unconventional Advice Column.

Your questions get sent to various authors from around the world to answer (and please keep sending because I have like 567 writers that want to answer your burning questions. Click here to submit a letter or email dearlife@jenniferpastiloff.com.) Different writers offer their input when it comes to navigating through life’s messiness. We are “making messy okay.” Today’s letter is answered by author Lisa Kaplin.

Send us your questions because there loads of crazy authors waiting to answer ‘em. Just kidding, they aren’t crazy.

Well okay, maybe a little. Aren’t we all? xo, Jen Pastiloff, Crazy Beauty Hunter.

ps, I will see you in London in a couple weeks! My Feb 14th workshop there is sold out but there is room in Atlanta, NYC, Philly, NJ, Chicago. All info on workshops here.

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Dear Life,

So…. Wtf is going on in my life? That is my question. Let me break it down, pleasantly 🙂

1. I left my husband of a 13 year marriage, (new him since I was 11) 5 years ago because I fell in love

2. My husband was abusive and cheated and I knew I deserved more

3. The man I fell in love with- is amazing with faults

4. After finally getting divorced (because he fought it) I then couldn’t let go

5. I was not a good human. I was selfish and aborted twins because I was afraid I would hurt my ex husband and afraid I wasn’t strong enough to take care of them alone. I accepted in my fucked up brain that no one could truly love me for eternity and help me. How the hell was I going to raise the two I already had. But all bullshit aside I knew I wasn’t capable of doing it. But I still hate myself and wish I could take it back.

6. I have lived with the guilt for too long

7. I birthed an amazing crazy human boy two years later that changed my life for ever

8. I still do not forgive myself for my abortion of the twins

9. I have made so many life changes. I have begun to live my life the way I want. Healthier. More peace. More quiet. More everything

10. Why am I still searching? Why am I still afraid? Why can’t I let go of my past and love and live in this moment?!?!

Sooooo… Wtf Is wrong with me? Why can’t I let myself be happy??? Why am I always afraid of really living and enjoying and seriously just being?
Sincerely,

Searching

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

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Beating Fear with a Stick, Dear Life., Guest Posts

Dear Life: I’m Tired Of Being Afraid.

February 28, 2014

Welcome to Dear Life: An Unconventional Advice Column. Your questions get sent to various authors from around the world to answer. Different writers offer their input when it comes to navigating through life’s messiness. Today’s question is answered by author Gayle Brandeis.  Have a question for us? Need some guidance? Send an email to dearlife at jenniferpastiloff.com or use the tab at the top of the site to post. Please address it as if you are speaking to a person rather than life or the universe. Need help navigating through life’s messiness? Write to us!

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Dear Life, I’m tired of being afraid. 

And I mean afraid in every sense of the word.  I’m afraid of everything. I’m afraid of being robbed.  I’m afraid of being raped.  I’m afraid of being murdered.  I’m afraid to walk to my car alone at night.

I’m afraid of being alone.  I’m afraid of dying.  I’m afraid that when I die I’ll be all alone in that moment.  I’m afraid of history erasing me and no one will know that I lived or who I was.

I’m afraid that Heaven might not exist.  Or that God might not exist.  Or at least in the way that I think He does.  I’m afraid I won’t be good enough to be with Him.  I’m afraid I won’t make it into Heaven if it is there.  I’m afraid there’s nothing after this life.

Oh, how I want to cling to this life just like I’ve wanted to cling onto anyone who has ever loved me.  I want to hold it firmly in my hands and never sleep because it might leave me.

I’m afraid to take a chance.  I’m afraid.  Do you hear me?

I AM SO AFRAID!

I am afraid that I am wasting my life and I don’t know how to change it.

I work two retail jobs.  I’m a full-time assistant manager at an electronics store and a part-time sales consultant at a jewelry store.  I have one day off a week where I’m either cleaning house and running errands or I sleep in and then watch Netflix all day.  Either way I don’t feel rested.  I don’t feel happy.  The sucky thing is I barely make enough to pay my bills.  I don’t know how people can live alone.  Or travel or live unconventional lives.  I am draining away.  I am stuck in this hamster wheel of a meaningless life.  And I see other people on their hamster wheels next to mine.  We never touch or talk or get off of it.  I JUST WANT OFF!

In small moments I feel magic.  When I sit in my kitchen in the quiet sunshine or when I lie down next to my dog on the floor.  When I look up at the stars or see my breath in the winter air.  When I hear a really good song on the radio or cry really hard that snot runs down my face.  I sigh and think this is life.  But those moments are so fleeting.  I don’t feel real except in those moments.

I want to feel real all the time.  I want to LIVE life and not merely exist.  Why do I have to work 2 jobs?  Why can’t I travel?  Why can’t I do lunch with my girlfriends whenever I want?  Why can’t I go to Italy and eat pizza and gelato like Elizabeth Gilbert?  Just… Why can’t I!?

I hate that an unconventional life is unconventional.  I hate that my dad said quitting my job to go on a month long road trip with my best friend was irresponsible.  I hate that he says I have to wait until I retire to do things like that.  I hate that after I did it and it took me 9 months to find another full-time job and went into quick spiraling debt that he thinks he was right.  I hate that I need money.

I hate that I’m afraid to quit again.  That I’m afraid to not pay my bills on time.  That I want to be an entrepreneur but I don’t know what I’d do and I’m afraid.

I am so afraid.

I don’t know what to do.  But I’m sick of being afraid.  How do I stop?  How do I start?  What do I do?

Sincerely,

I just don’t want to be afraid anymore.

***

Dear I just don’t want to be afraid anymore,

I hear you.

I’m afraid, too. As I write this to you, I am in a lull between pain. The pain comes and goes like labor, like something’s squeezing me with sharp, hot talons. This is a chronic issue–it flares up every few months; I am lucky that it’s not more frequent, that it’s not something I have to live with daily. When the pain does come, my first response tends to be fear. I am scared I am going to feel the pain forever. I am scared I am not going to survive it. I am scared of the vomiting that usually accompanies it. I am scared the pain will thwart any attempt to function in the world. But sometimes I am able to get beyond this fear, to get to a calmer, clearer place inside myself, where I can ride the pain with detachment, where I know it will pass and I will be okay. This time, I have been calling upon a handy tip I learned in childbirth class: to stop labeling pain pain. To think of it, instead, as an “interesting sensation.” This helps quite a bit. When the pain comes, I don’t clench my body in fear (which, of course, only makes the pain worse.) I try to breathe–breathing is important, in pain, in labor, in life–and chant “Interesting sensation; interesting sensation” inside myself. This allows me to reframe the pain, to look at it with some measure of curiosity, even with a sense of wonder. It keeps me from getting too attached to it. It helps me remember that the pain is not me, that I don’t need to give it so much power.

I suggest you do something similar when you are beset by fear. As the fear starts to clutch your ribs, take a deep breath and try to label it an interesting sensation. Gaze upon your fear with the eyes of a researcher and a bodhisattva all at once; dissect it with curiosity, but also with compassion. What is this fear–does it have a color, a texture, a scent? Why have you given it so much currency in your life? When you start to look at it in a more detached way, you will start to gain power over it rather than let it hold power over you. You will be able to let it go more easily. Fear creates a buzz in the brain, a clatter in the heart; when you find a way past that, you can reach the deep, quiet well inside yourself, the place that knows what you need, what you need to do. The place that’s beyond convention. The place that’s simply true.

Today, I was thinking about what I could share with you that might be of help and three perfect Facebook status updates appeared in my feed, all in a row. These updates felt like getting a cherry cherry cherry in a slot machine, like I had hit the jackpot just for you. The first was from our own Jennifer Pastiloff–it was a sign, white with plain red letters and a red border, like a street sign (or, in this case, like a sign you’d see at a campsite); it said “PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE FEARS”. Remember this; heed it–think of your fears as bears; if you keep feeding them, they’ll keep hanging around, growing bigger and more vicious with each scrap you throw their way. If you stop feeding those fears, they’ll eventually slink off into the woods and leave you alone. You are giving these fears so much of yourself right now; you are feeding them with the energy and time you could be using to build a life more in line with your deepest desires (and it really feels as if one of your deepest desires is to be free–free from convention, from expectation, from the daily grind. Freeing yourself from fear is the first step toward all of that.)

The next update was a quote from Jack Canfield, shared by Elizabeth Gilbert. Canfield said “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” Over the image, Elizabeth Gilbert wrote “Forza, forza, forza!”, which in Italian means “Power” but can also mean “Go! You can do it!” Even if you can’t eat gelato and pizza in Italy like her (and–who knows?–maybe you’ll find a way someday!) you can take this from her right now. Forza. When you break through your fear, everything you want will be waiting for on the other side.

The third was this wonderful quote from Anais Nin, on what would have been her 111th birthday: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” You are letting fear shrink your life–remember that you have the power to make your world expand again. You’ve done it before. You did a brave thing, quitting your job and taking your road trip. I hope you have some fabulous memories from that trip that can help cancel out your father’s voice, at least some of the time; cherish those memories, and the courage it took to take that journey. Try not to let your father’s disapproval blunt you or make you cower from your own sense of adventure–instead of worrying about your parents’ expectations and being beholden to the generation before you, think about being beholden to the generation that comes after you. Even if you never have children yourself, ask yourself how you want to be remembered by future generations. Do you want girls growing up today to see a woman governed by fear, or do you want to show those girls that it is possible to live a fearless life even when one is inside the hamster wheel? And it *is* possible, you know. There are ways to be unconventional even within a conventional life. You can bring more meaning and fun and wildness into your day even if you keep your current jobs. It’s all about paying attention and finding moments of hilarity and connection and grace. It’s all about cultivating more of those moments of magic you already own, even if fleetingly, when you look up at the stars. Letting go of fear will help you tap into more of those moments. Fear contracts you, makes it hard for you to see the world around you with open eyes and an open heart; when you get beyond the fear, beauty rushes in. Be a beauty seeker. Take Jennifer Pastiloff’s advice and write down five things you find beautiful every day. This in itself can save you. The more moments of beauty and humor you find, the more fear will loosen its grip on your heart.

And it wouldn’t hurt to take some practical steps toward making real changes in your life: you say you want to be an entrepreneur, but you don’t know what you’d do. Do what you can to figure that out. Write lists of things you love, things that get your heart pumping, and imagine what sorts of jobs could spring from them. Do research. Take classes. Spend time in nature. Make things with your hands. See what speaks to you most clearly, what calls you most deeply. See what you can do to make it work. And take a self-defense class–it may help alleviate your fears of being attacked if you know how to attack back.

As for your grappling with your faith, I can only begin to imagine the deep fear that comes from questioning one’s long-held beliefs. I’ve never believed in God or Heaven, myself, at least not in the traditional Judeo-Christian conception, and I feel for you as you struggle with this profound dilemma. But I also ask you to ask yourself that if this is all there is, is that really so bad? In a way, doesn’t it make this time that we have here on this beautiful, complicated planet all the more precious? History may erase us, but at least we have this moment, and if this is all we have, why not put everything into making the very best of the time we are given? Sure, we have to face pain and fear and crappy jobs and the scourge of money, but we also get to face the sunrise and the feel of the dog’s fur under our fingers, and great music and art and life’s glorious absurdities. Let’s relish those things, those moments. Start with this very moment. Take a deep breath. Take a few more–let yourself settle into your own skin. Let fear evaporate; let it rise from your shoulders like steam. What do you notice? What is around and inside you right now that is gorgeous and surprising? If you take time to notice these things, you’ll feel your innate sense of wonder grow instead of your fear. You’ll find yourself smiling more. You won’t worry so much about being alone because you’ll find that you’re great company, yourself. You’ll find yourself ready to take more chances, to step into a more expansive and courageous life. Fear is just an interesting sensation. You don’t need to give it more power than that. I am taking my own advice right now as another pain comes on–breathing, breathing, breathing through it, seeing it with detachment, knowing it will pass. Knowing beauty surrounds me even in the grip of the attack.

You have the power to change, and your desire for change–desire I can feel thrumming right off the page–will help fuel that transformation. To start, all you need to do is take a deep breath, find that clear, quiet well inside yourself and move from that place, not the skittish, frantic place of fear. I have all faith in you. You wouldn’t have written to “Dear Life” if somewhere inside of you, you didn’t have faith in your own ability to change. You can reach beyond your own fear, and when you do, a more spacious, joyful life awaits, even if none of the external realities of your life change. You can do it. I know you can. Forza!

With love and solidarity, Gayle Brandeis

Gayle Brandeis grew up in the Chicago area and has been writing poems and stories since she was four years old. She is the author of Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write (HarperOne), Dictionary Poems (Pudding House Publications), the novels The Book of Dead Birds(HarperCollins), which won Barbara Kingsolver’s Bellwether Prize for Fiction in Support of a Literature of Social Change, Self Storage (Ballantine) and Delta Girls (Ballantine), and her first novel for young readers, My Life with the Lincolns (Holt). She released The Book of Live Wires, the sequel to The Book of Dead Birds, as an e-book in 2011.

Gayle’s poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies (such as Salon.com, The Nation, and The Mississippi Review) and have received several awards, including the QPB/Story Magazine Short Story Award, a Barbara Mandigo Kelley Peace Poetry Award, and a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. Her essay on the meaning of liberty was one of three included in the Statue of Liberty’s Centennial time capsule in 1986, when she was 18. In 2004, the Writer Magazine honored Gayle with a Writer Who Makes a Difference Award.

Gayle teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Antioch University and lives in Riverside, CA, where she is mom to two adult kids and a toddler.

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Please note: Advice given in Dear Life is not meant to take the place of therapy or any other professional advice. The opinions or views offered by columnists are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed physician or mental health professional. Columnists acting on behalf of Dear Life are not responsible for the outcome or results of following their advice in any given situation.

Mother's Day Retreat! Join Jen Pastiloff in Ojai, Calif this May for a life-changing weekend retreat. May 8-10th. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. Click photo to book. "Here’s the thing about Jen Pastiloff, folks. Here’s the revolutionary thing. She listens. She listens with an intent focus, a focus that follows your words inside you. Because she has hearing problems, she watches your lips as you speak, and she plucks the ash of your words from the air and takes it inside herself and lays it beside her heart, where before too long your words start beating as if they were strong, capable, living mammals. And then she gives them back to you. Boiled down, this is the secret to Jen’s popularity. She can call what she does Beauty Hunting–she is for sure out there helping people find beauty. She can start a campaign called “Don’t be an asshole” and remind us all to stop a second and please, please, please be our better selves. She can use words like attention, space, time, connection, intimacy. She can ask participants to answer questions like What gets in your way? What stories are you carrying around in your body? What makes you come alive? Who would you be if nobody told you who you were? All of that is what it is. But why it works is because of her kind of listening. And what her kind of listening does is simple: It saves lives." ~ Jane Eaton Hamilton.

Mothers Day Weekend 2016, May 6-8! Join Jen Pastiloff in Ojai, Calif this New Years  for a life-changing 3 day retreat.  No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. Click photo to book.
“Here’s the thing about Jen Pastiloff, folks. Here’s the revolutionary thing.
She listens.
She listens with an intent focus, a focus that follows your words inside you. Because she has hearing problems, she watches your lips as you speak, and she plucks the ash of your words from the air and takes it inside herself and lays it beside her heart, where before too long your words start beating as if they were strong, capable, living mammals. And then she gives them back to you.
Boiled down, this is the secret to Jen’s popularity. She can call what she does Beauty Hunting–she is for sure out there helping people find beauty. She can start a campaign called “Don’t be an asshole” and remind us all to stop a second and please, please, please be our better selves. She can use words like attention, space, time, connection, intimacy. She can ask participants to answer questions like What gets in your way? What stories are you carrying around in your body? What makes you come alive? Who would you be if nobody told you who you were? All of that is what it is. But why it works is because of her kind of listening.
And what her kind of listening does is simple:
It saves lives.” ~ Jane Eaton Hamilton.

 

The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for the next cleanse on November 30th. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the holiday season. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation.

The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for the next cleanse in May. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the holiday season. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation.

 

And So It Is, Beating Fear with a Stick

Like Forgetting. By Jen Pastiloff.

May 28, 2013

Like Forgetting. Jen Pastiloff.

 

Were you afraid?

I was. At first.

Why?

Because I knew I was dying and I wasn’t finished.

With what?

Living.

Then why did you let yourself die?

I didn’t know I had a choice.

Did it hurt?

Not in a way you will understand. 

Well, what did it feel like then?

It felt like forgetting. Like my life was slowly pouring out of me as I lay there grasping at it with invisible fingers. I watched it fall out of me as if it had never happened. It was that fast, the undoing. And, just like that, it was gone. I was undone. I saw you at age 38, my same age, and I understood your own forgetting and how difficult it was to keep a life going when there was no body anymore.

I understood my body was going. My arms numb, my head heavy, my eyelids caked shut. I understood my body was disappearing and I was afraid for what that meant.

I was afraid of who I’d be without my body. And how would my grandchildren know the sound of my voice and Oh my God, they wouldn’t. 

So what did it feel like? It felt like forgetting. Letting go of the body is an effortless thing unless you fight for it and that’s what I did. I fought. I fought to bring my body back. But I was too tired. I gave up fighting when I understood.

What did you understand?

That you might forget small details but that you’d carry my legacy on. And that you and Mommy and your sister would know that I loved you and did the best I could. And that maybe I was finished? How can anyone really know anyway?

Did you? Do the best you could?

I don’t know. Yes. Maybe. No.

Why is it so hard to do our best? 

Because we forget.

*   *    *   *   *    *   **

I started to imagine this conversation between my father and I as if he was having a glass of wine here with me, after my friend said “ I don’t care about dying” when she stopped by yesterday. My great big regret in life is that my father and I never got to be adults together. We never got to watch a rerun on the sofa with some wine. He never sent me a text message. He never saw me with laugh lines.

My friend and I had been talking about death and she blurted that out nonchalantly. I don’t care about dying.

“What do you mean, you don’t care about death?” I asked back. “Do you mean that you aren’t afraid to die?”

She said that she wasn’t.

I am. I am very much afraid to die.

I think about my father’s death a lot. Was he scared? Did he know it was happening? Did he know before it happened, as many people have suggested? He gave away his prized possessions. His signed hockey stick from the Philadelphia Flyers. He made jokes that he was about to die. Did he know? Did he too say to someone on a sofa somewhere I don’t care about death as he loosened his tie?

My friend said she lives her life in such a way, that were she to die tomorrow, her affairs would be in order. Would there be anything left unsaid? Anything left undone? She said she checks herself daily. She lives as if, were she to die the next day, nothing would be unfinished.

*    *    *   *    *    *

Were you afraid?

I was. At first.

Why?

Because I knew I was dying and I wasn’t finished. 

*     *    *    *    *

My friend gets things done. She writes books. I talk about writing books.

(Maybe it’s because I am scared of dying and she isn’t?)

Her candor on the subject sent me spinning into my brain and its big questions looming there next to the mundane thoughts about when Homeland was coming back on and how I didn’t know what to eat for dinner.

How can such things live in close proximity?

Life and death are like that though, aren’t they? So close to one another.

Here you are living one minute and then here you are saying goodbye to your 8 year old daughter for the last time. The time span is so short between the two events that it feels impossible, a scientific impossibility! And yet, it’s not. How can this be? you shout at anyone who will listen and anyone shouts back How can what be? How can death live in such close proximity to life? How can someone die that you love just as you were getting to know them? How can babies die and mothers and people that you love? Is that what you mean? And you nod yes yes and anyone says back It was always going to be this way.

We live in these glass bubbles and every so often they pop and the rest of the world rushes in at us and we realize it was always that way. That the glass was an illusion. It just takes some of us longer to break the glass.

My friend thinks people make too much of a big deal about death.

I know I do.

Look, I get that the person’s spirit and memory and all that resides in my soul or wherever, but, truth be told, I would rather be able to rest my hand on their arm, to sit and look them in the eye, to be able to have a glass of cabernet with them. I would. Maybe I am too sensory or maybe I am just honest? Maybe it’s all of it?

I don’t understand it and I don’t know what comes after but my God, when someone is ripped from your life, how do you go on making the bed and the breakfast as if it’s just another Monday?

I don’t know, but we do. We do again and again and again. That doesn’t mean we wouldn’t trade the breakfasts and the bedspreads to have the father back, the beloveds back.

I’m scared to even write this piece. Typing the word out.  D-E-A-T-H. What if some hocus pocus superstition states that if you talk about it that it will happen to you.

Well, it will. Eventually. All of us. Every single one. No one escapes alive.

So why are some of us so afraid of it? How is my friend not afraid? How am I so afraid? What stuff is she made of? What am I not made of?

Last week I became obsessed with the story of Zach Sobiech. He had a rare bone cancer and at 17 found out he had one year to live. There was a short documentary on him (he passed away a week ago) which I watched three or four times, each time riveted. His message You don’t have to find out your dying to start living haunted me all week as his song played on repeat in my head. He wrote a song called “Clouds” for his girlfriend about the fact that he was dying and it went viral on YouTube. The day after he died it was number one on iTunes.

I can’t stop singing the lines of the song “It won’t be long now. It won’t be long now.”

I am not obsessed with death or anything macabre like that. I want to not be afraid.

I want to write the books and not just talk about writing the books. I want to do my best. I want to not forget. I want to ask myself If I died tomorrow would my affairs be in order? Anything left unsaid? Anyone I didn’t say I love you to that I should have?

To all the people I love: I love you.

To my father whom I said “I hate you” to right before he died: I love you.

To myself: I love you.

I suppose if we lived as if it won’t be long now, we’d really get shit done. We’d love harder. We’d write the books. We’d show up.

Why is it so easy to forget what it means to be alive? Why is it so easy to be afraid?

 

When I was little we belonged to this swim club in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. There was this giant pool and snack bar and chaise lounges (this was back when people still drowned themselves in oil and baked in the sun.) There was a pair of diving boards over in the deep end. You had to have a band to show you were ready to be in the deep end. The red band. You had to take a test for it and everything. It was some serious business. I remember after I finally got my red band how I climbed up to the high dive. My father waited down below, waving at me to go go go. Jump. Go. I saw the red band on my ankle and remember thinking What if I hit my head on the board and die? What if I drown? What if I

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And then nothing but quiet. There must have been a moment when I decided to jump. There must have been a moment while I glided through the air a million miles above my father who weeks away from dying. There must have been a moment before my head shattered the water but I don’t remember any of it. I just remember breaking through into the air gasping I did it! And then climbing the ladder again to do it one more time. There was no memory of the fear until I got to the top again and my stomach came into my throat. But I did it again and again and each time the fear dissipated until it was a forgotten thing and it was as if I had always been a world class diver. I was an Olympic medalist that day.

It’s okay to be afraid.

But at some point we crack the water and swim, despite that fear, and it’s glorious. It’s quiet under there, a quiet that is comforting, like a companion you don’t have to say anything to while driving.

At some point you just dive in and eventually you forget that you were ever scared of the plunge.

Letting go of the body is an effortless thing.

So you just climb up there in your little one piece bathing suit and jump. Letting go of the body. You float in the water without a body for a few moments or a million years and realize that it won’t be long now.

Except often, the moment we come up for air we forget again.

We forget what it felt like to be unafraid of floating. Of letting go.

*    *   *   *   *   *   *  *    *   *

Well, what did it feel like then?

It felt like forgetting.

~~~~~

 
 
 
 

 

Poster by SimpleReminders.com Pre-order their book: http://www.SimpleReminders.info Subscribe for more: http://www.bryantmcgill.net

Poster by SimpleReminders.com Pre-order their book: http://www.SimpleReminders.info Subscribe for more: http://www.bryantmcgill.net

 

She has been featured on Good Morning America, NY Magazine, Oprah.com. Her writing has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Salon, and more. Jen leads her signature Manifestation Retreats & Workshops all over the world. The next retreat is to Ojai, Calif over Labor Day/New Years. She is also leading a Writing + The Body Retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch Jan 30-Feb 1 in Ojai (4 spots left.) Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up: Seattle, Atlanta, South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Miami, Tucson & The Berkshires (guest speaker Canyon Ranch.) She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.

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