Browsing Tag


Beating Fear with a Stick, Gratitude, Guest Posts, Manifestation Retreats

My Thank You Letter. By Ingrid Cohen.

April 24, 2014

My Thank You Letter. By Ingrid Cohen. *trigger warning. Mention of rape.

This is inspired by a piece written by Jen Pastiloff and is now an exercise in her signature Manifestation Workshop: On Being Human®. Click here to read.

I’d been on retreat with Jen before. She’ll read some of a “Thank you, Fuck you” piece she wrote (it’s brilliant). She’ll walk, as she reads aloud, through the space between the yoga mats where we’ll sit. Most will sit in frozen appreciation of her work while some will continue their own letter she’d already have asked us to write. Her voice, the way her hearing loss affects her annunciation (making her words more pure, almost as if they come directly from her soul), will ring in my head days later, long after the retreat has ended. I’ll be sitting at my desk on Wednesday morning at 10am, striving to be productive at a job I hate, but her voice will play on repeat. The part about thanking the women, the ones whose voices got real high when asking for more salad dressing, will almost scream. You’ll be pulled back to that room. Lindsay Lohan. Organic eggs. Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Normally I wouldn’t write a letter to the good and bad stuff in my life. Especially the bad. I’ve spent the better part of my life numbing out the bad stuff (it doesn’t work). But, when the person asking is Jen Pastiloff you take a leap of faith. You trust her. You want more of what she has. She’s got an aura of amazingness. Anything is possible when she’s around. I hate trying to give her a title. While she’s a teacher, yogi, writer, retreat leader, creator of Manifestation Yoga™ and a host of other things, she does each with such an unorthodox approach. It’s this unorthodoxy that speaks so loudly to her tribe. She manifests, or “Makes Shit Happen” (as she calls it), magic. This petite, yet silently strong, woman with thick dark hair to her lower back, porcelain perfect skin and a contagious laugh, is a magician.

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Guest Posts, healing

Recovery Is a Choice. By Jennifer Lake.

July 23, 2013

Recovery Is a Choice. By Jennifer Lake.

You might not know it but I have it. I have the same thing that Corey Monteith died of. I have what Marilyn Monroe, Jim Morison, Amy Winehouse, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and Heath Ledger to name a few died of. That thing that we DON’T GET as a society, family, pop-culture. I have it. The same exact thing.

That thing that Jennifer, Mathew, Evan and Christy died of. But they weren’t famous, so it might not appear to be as glamorous or horrible or sad or tragic.

When I hear about the deaths of the famous and we see the headline: “Talented (fill in the blank, actress, actor, musician) found dead at “X” am in the morning, past known history of drug addiction and alcoholism, cause of death unknown.”  I go…really? Cause of death unknown? Maybe the (official) toxicology report says “cause of death unknown” but I am pretty sure it is clear when this story hits, to me anyway, I GET IT INSTANTLY. A hit of high octane reality check yourself at the door.  They died of their untreated diseases, alcoholism and drug addiction.  I get it. It is a HARD thing to wrap so many parts of your mind, body and soul around. It is a disease. NOT a moral choice. Not a matter of will power. Not a matter of I can have ONE and just be ok, walk away and live an enlightening meaningful existence. Not possible. If it were do you really think there would be SO many people suffering from this? I am one. I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. 12 years. AA found me when I was 20. I got sober a month before my 21st birthday. I am 32. 12 years in recovery WORKING a program based on spiritual principals that guide me through my day.  I pause when agitated or doubtful. I make amends if I have caused harm I show up, I make mistakes, and I hit the retry button. I never let a day go by without feeling fully grateful for where I am today even though it might not look exactly how I want…yet. That is up to god, it’s my life, unfolding in its own way and my REAL purpose beyond all the career hoo haaa is to be of maximum service to others. How can I show up and help you? How can I smile and be genuinely me so that you might have a brighter day? Sound too Anne of Green Gables for you?

I used to snort cocaine off of toilet seats at the restaurant I worked at in Times Square and guzzle the cheap pink house wine we served you out of a kid’s Sippy cup mixed with sprite. Yeah, I mixed cheap wine with sprite. You know? to cover it up. It tasted good, it felt good and it was my only way I knew how to live with myself. MESSED UP. It worked. It’s what got me to that place of utter oblivion where I wanted to live most of the time because what was the point of living if you had to be “sober” un-bearable. It was un-bearable to live with the noise that lived between my ears and deep rooted emptiness that inhabited my soul.  Judgment, fear, self doubt, resentment, blame, VICTIM, I am a victim. Alcohol is just a symptom of the disease. The world is doing to me. I’m way better, I suck way more. Everything is amplified times a million. A feeling is not just a feeling but a mad rush of concrete reality and it will never get better unless you get the fix to take YOU away from you. People love you? You don’t care. You are hurting people and loved ones around you? Impossible to fully accept or see it because you are too wrapped up in you… what YOU need. ME YOU ME YOU ME I. ME.  I begged to die. I wanted to die. I tried to die. It had me by the throat, the ballz, the ovaries, my cells. Every cell in my body was consumed with it. Toxic to the core. And yet on the outside I was this beautiful, intelligent, talented aspiring professional dancer.

Here is the ONLY thing that worked for me. I had to accept help. For an addict or alcoholic accepting help is like garlic to a vampire, silver to a wer wolf and crosses to ward off demons ( did I get my gross misinterpretations about Folklore correct? Great). I had to accept help. Alcoholism and drug addiction is a serious disease of mind, body, and spirit. You cannot cure one without the other and expect phenomenal results. GET IT? It is not just as simple as handing someone a thirty day stint in rehab where they might show improvement for that time and then say “HEY look you have a really big band-aid on your body. You should be fine going out into the real world now.” It is not as easy as a fix of taking some Percocet and wishing them well. Talk therapy is a beginning and can aide in recovery, but it won’t fix it. There is NO quick FIX. That is why SO many of us DON’T make it. YOU CANNOT TREAT THE PROBLEM WITH THE PROBLEM. It sounds SO simple and really quite obvious; YOU CANNOT TREAT THE PROBLEM with the problem. Rehab is a beginning. The first phone call for help, a beginning, the second stint at rehab a beginning.  The real solution is something that can’t be packaged or sold, health insurance companies can’t make money off of it and drug companies can’t either. The real solution, something that has been working with all its perfect flaws lies in this magical book and program of action; The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous as well as AA meetings. If you read it and you are not an alcoholic guess what? It won’t turn you into an alcoholic, but it might give you a better understanding of what people are dealing with. If you read it and you are an alcoholic? Guess what? You might actually have a chance of finding a solution to what MODERN MEDICINE has failed to solve and actually, probably never will. Because the solution lies in the addict or alcoholic actually doing some DEEP soul digging mind blowing work: WORK. ACTION. PROCCESS.  A process that is in and of itself PAINFUL. Like a good detox or hangover. You want it to hurt so you grow so far away from it that when times get tough you KNOW to your core you never want to go through that ever again.

Yes, it talks about god. Yes it does. You know what it says about god though? That YOU get to define what that looks like and means to you. YOU get to create that. My solution was in the big book of alcoholics anonymous. It is not ALL unicorns and fairytales. It is a long hard process and journey. There is a lot of joy in the whole deal. I get to be a parent of a beautiful gift of a daughter who is brilliant in every divine cell of her being. Her smile melts any despair or self doubt I may have and brings me right back to the moment.  TOO many bright souls fall from the starlight and sink into the pit of the destiny of their disease. Alcoholism and addiction want to annihilate you. Obliterate you. Take you out. It is a serious, life threatening disease, one never to be taken lightly or for granted or judged.

Here are some things I have learned and put into practice since doing the 12 steps as they are outlined in the big book of alcoholics anonymous with a sponsor (someone that has been through it and can guide you through the process as well) This took me 6 years, it can take shorter amounts of time it can take longer, it just depends on how much time you give it. It is but a beginning to the process of living the rest of my life one day at a time as a useful, meaningful, inspired being who can actually participate in life instead of hide in a corner in the middle of her own self created hell.

  1. The whole point of the process is for me to create a clearing so I can be connected to…GOD, Buddha, the universe, a light bulb, the air conditioning, stars (a power greater than myself, and KNOW that I am NOT IT)
  2. I show up to life NO MATTER HOW I FEEL
  3. I have beautiful divine gifts and it is my responsibility to work with them and be of service to others
  4. I have a past, it is my past. It’s been dealt with. I do my best to in live in the present to create a better future.
  5. I have tools, a literal process to utilize in order to “turn around” any current resentments that might pop up in my day to day activity
  6. I own my mistakes, take responsibility for my actions and make amends for any harm I have caused
  7. To the core of who I am I know I am loved, valuable, matter, belong here and have a divine purpose

May everyone find the help that they need so their voices may be heard and lives lived with purpose truth and meaning. If you do go to a meeting and don’t like what you hear…go find another one. Keep looking until you find your solution. NEVER give up. Recovery is a choice. Alcoholism is not.


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Jennifer Lake: Is a divine gift and inspiration straight from the heavens upon this earth. People collect in masses just to kiss the ground she has touched as it has special, spiritual properties that have been known to transform you instantly into a unicorn that lives just beyond the end of the rainbow. And they dance happily in the thick of the meadow and play the banjo and of course all are welcome. She is also an experienced Kick A$% Yoga Teacher, and A.C.E Certified Personal Trainer. She is a riot to be with for real and enjoys making her clients laugh so hard they pee. She specializes in helping herself and others ENJOY this thing called life ( I mean really, we live on a sphere that is whirling through space, and we just relatively recently accepted it is round). More JOY please. She has known great suffering and despair and equally great joy and inner space freedom. She is fascinated by how our minds work and perceive things and even more fascinated by overcoming the negative pull of frustration, self doubt, judgment, and ego in order to truly, really, honestly be at peace and be happy. Find her at: