Browsing Tag

authentic

Guest Posts, writing

On Authenticity, Life, Writing, and Those Hairy, Tooth-filled Teratomas

February 11, 2018
teratomas

By Heather Candela

Was it the bible or the bard who said there’s nothing new under the sun? Either way, it’s gospel truth. Beautifully original is impossible. Especially living in today’s world. The world of social media, where I realize every day that even if I think I’ve gone and done something worthwhile — baked something bodacious and beautiful; written something poetically profound; experienced some sort of mommy enlightenment – I’m knocked back down to my rickety reality with a single swipe of my Instagram. I’m barely hanging on, and I definitely can’t compete.

Take, for example, Joanna Gaines’ perfectly appointed farm house sink, tiny bean sprouts perched prettily all in a row on the ledge behind it. Planted by her daughter. My girls, they planted seedlings once. They mildewed and drowned in their own Dixie cups. The seedlings. Not my daughters. I did manage to keep them alive. So there’s that. And they are currently beautiful and independent and flourishing, even if their little bean sprouts never made it. So, yeah — there’s that. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Humor, Owning It!

Eulogy For an Aging Book Guy

November 20, 2017
book

By Timothy Eberle

I’m thinking about giving up my identity as a “book guy.” (Which doesn’t mean that I’m giving up on reading per se; simply that I’m considering no longer so aggressively inserting that particular pastime into my outward facing persona.) And not because “book guy” has somehow become any less gratifying a façade – if anything, my affection for its particulars have only strengthened with time. (I love the thick-rimmed glasses, the t-shirts adorned with faded images of out-of-print novels, the smug sense of superiority I get to feel as I stare over the spine of “Infinite Jest” on the subway – the teeming mass of my fellow commuters immersed in the decidedly less-worthy diversions of “iPhones,” “newspapers,” and “not desperately trying to impress a train-ful of strangers with a faulty air of intellectual authority.”) The honest truth is that I actually really like being a book guy; it’s simply that, as time progresses and mores shift, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to justify the “book guy persona” as anything resembling efficacious. (For one thing, I’m finding that, past a certain point, people are unwilling to tolerate the use of a word like efficacious in what was, up to that point, casual conversation.

Compounding the issue is the fact that, at some point over the last several years – a time which was for me primarily spent agonizing over the decision as to whether or not taking up pipe-smoking would be seen as a bit too “on the nose” – television has apparently become really, really good. Not to overstate the fact, but the near universal consensus appears to be that we’re living in what can only be described as a new golden age of the medium, with legitimate auteurs reshaping the television landscape through a groundbreaking combination of breathtaking cinematography, innovative storytelling, and an eagerness to confront even the most pressing social issues of the day. Which is – of course – objectively good for humanity.

But it’s objectively terrible for me. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Kindness, The Hard Stuff

When You See Her, Be Kind

February 17, 2017
real

By Kimberly Valzania

I know what makes her tick. I know how she is, and better yet, who she is. And I know all her secrets and what she did to keep them. How she locked them away in a box for years, and kept the key just beyond her own reach.

We’ve always been close. Pushing her out the door each day takes all the strength I have. But resisting her familiar charms helps me gather and sort out my true self instead, the only self I was meant to be.

In letting her go, I let go of her burdensome habits. No more quiet tip-toe up the stairs, shutting the bathroom door, knees to the floor.

Still, when I feel her panic creeping, a few smaller habits return. Sometimes, her leg shakes and she twirls her hair, pulling a long piece around her cheek and into her mouth, turning it on her tongue, creating a wet and pointy tip. Her fingers get in there too. Her nails, stubby nubs. Always something in her mouth. Her mouth remains the vessel that bears her rolling waves of worry and cope.

Before…before now, I always knew when she was empty, void. And when she was full, stuffed. Empty, hungry. Full, packed. And, as it was, I always knew the very moment the fullness was just too much. When she wanted, more than anything else, the blessed emptiness back. Continue Reading…

And So It Is, Guest Posts

Taboo.

January 23, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-blackBy Andi Cumbo-Floyd

I heard my mother swear exactly one time.

My brother and I wanted to go to the pool on a blazing summer day. We were already in the back of the Chevette, our legs sticking to the vinyl, and Mom was in the driver’s seat.  I cannot remember what Jeremy and I were badgering her about – going sooner, staying longer, more snacks? – but she lost it a tiny, tiny bit.

“Damn it!” She slammed the door and went inside.

Jeremy and I sat in the car for a long time. I probably cried. In time, she came back out and drove us to the pool.

Swearing was taboo in our house. Even now, when I say “shit” in front of my dad, he winces a bit. . . and then gets that furrow of disapproval between his gray eyebrows.

My parents were quite open to most anything – I shaved my head in 7th grade – no reaction; I never had a curfew, just times my parents asked me to be home; no subject was ever off-limits in books. But swearing was not something that happened in the Cumbo home.

It was a taboo certainly carried over from their devout, somewhat conservative Christian faith and from their generational expectations – polite people just don’t swear.

***

Fuck taboos. I hate them.

I hate the way they make people feel small and tiny. Limited.  Controlled.

I hate the way they are wielded like weapons at dinner parties – in polite conversation, we don’t talk about politics, religion, or money – or touted on blogs as the guidelines for being invited in – “swearing is unnecessary.”

I hate the way that people judge each other – and themselves – when people “air their dirty laundry” as if sharing our pain is somehow violating the limits of proper etiquette.

No.  No!

I believe in hanging it all out – the shit stains and the blood marks and the semen etched by love and loathe into the sheets. Because when we hang it all out, the air gets in and opens it up, opens us up.

Because when we show ourselves, even the inky, burnt parts we normally keep turned inward, we heal.  We breathe again.

***

Someone surely is going to say that there are limits to what we should share and when. . . . and I don’t disagree . . . at least not with the idea that we can be wise about what and whom we open up to.

I do, however, disagree with the “should” because “should” is an agent of control that comes from someone other than ourselves.  “Should” is that pesky, belittling voice that silences us because it is almost never coupled with “breathe” and “rest” and the honest touch of a warm hand.  “Should”- and its brother “should not –  are the voices that shout, not the ones that caress.

I am a Christian. I have been taught for almost four decades what I should and should not do, what it is to be “good” and what it is to be “bad.”  More often the lessons on “good” washed over me like silk that flowed to other people – the girl who was prettier, thinner; the boy who read his Bible more; the woman who always smiled – but without fail, the “bad” sunk into me like acid, leaving my skin intact and burning into my skeleton.  The “should” sticks.  The “good” doesn’t.

So I have found my way past the “should” and “should not” to the space beyond that, where God, in all God’s goodness, whispers love and hope and the kind of forgiveness that is about moving forward not miring down.

***

My mother died from cancer just over three years ago. Even when she was in agonizing pain, she didn’t swear.  She didn’t complain.

I wish she had. I wish she’d let loose with every expletive that came to her as the cancer wracked her body.  I wish she had screamed out the blood that was murdering her minute by minute.

But she didn’t.  She spoke love to us even then.  “I love you . . . ”

Every day.  Every day, I am grateful that I was raised in a family where love overcame everything. . . even the taboos we taught ourselves.  Every day, I’m glad my father’s brow just furrows when I swear . . . and that then, I feel his calloused, soft hand on my shoulder as he whispers, “I’m so proud of you.”

Andi Cumbo-Floyd is the author of  The Slaves Have Names: Ancestors of my Home. She blogs regularly at andilit.com, and you can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

 

All of Jen Pastiloff’s events, including Tuscany and Mexico, listed here.

Join Jen at a writing retreat in Mexico this May!  Jennifer Pastiloff is part of the faculty in 2015 at Other Voices Querétaro in Mexico with Gina Frangello, Emily Rapp, Stacy Berlein, and Rob Roberge. Please email Gina Frangello to be accepted at ovbooks@gmail.com. Click poster for info or to book. Space is very limited.

Join Jen at a writing retreat in Mexico this May!
Jennifer Pastiloff is part of the faculty in 2015 at Other Voices Querétaro in Mexico with Gina Frangello, Emily Rapp, Stacy Berlein, and Rob Roberge. Please email Gina Frangello to be accepted at ovbooks@gmail.com. Click poster for info or to book. Space is very limited.

Video

Shine Yo’ Light & No, It Doesn’t Make You a Narcissist.

May 22, 2013

Sorry Tribe, the sound is a bit off and not synched but this is such an important message straight from my heart to yours. I love you guys. Keep shining!

Our Greatest Fear —Marianne Williamson

it is our light not our darkness that most frightens us

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other

people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.

—Marianne Williamson

Guest Posts, Inspiration

Little Ripples…

March 28, 2012

That’s what we are all doing here.

That’s what my mission is when I CONNECT with you. Whether it is here or through my classes or workshops or retreats.

It is my intention to always be authentic. Always. 

My hope is that I am a facilitator. That I can help you to pay attention to the ripples in your own life and start causing those ripples yourself.

Here is a letter I just received from someone who took my workshop in Austin at Black Swan Yoga. I was so moved that I am sharing it (with her permission of course.)

Dear Jen,

Since taking your manifestation workshop I have been trying to make sense of some things that have been going on in my life.

I think it is important to express gratitude to those who make an impact and I needed to let you know your role in my journey.

I came to the Black Swan Yoga training with the last ounce of energy I had to make my life work. I had struggled for the last several years with PTSD after a near death experience and I was on the verge of ruining my life. My marriage was falling apart, I dreaded getting out of bed and my kids deserved better. A few months before I decided to do the training I hit a cross road.

It was a particularly nasty argument with the spouse and I took off for a few days to clear my head. As I was driving down the highway, I had downloaded some good ole Dr. Wayne Dyer audiobooks. I was literally praying out loud in my car for something, ANYTHING to help me stop banging my head against the wall.

At that moment when I am about to make one of the toughest decisions of my life, I heard Dr. Dyer say, “We are not humans having a spiritual experience, but rather a spirit having a human experience.”

I kid you not, my world literally moved. It felt like an earthquake happened inside my body. I had to pull off the highway I was shaking and sobbing so hard. At that moment everything I had been trying to understand my whole life totally made sense. I immediately emailed my husband to tell him that I was choosing compassion and understanding over anger and frustration.

All in that moment I realized that I was, as is everyone else, an all encompassing light of love and that anything that didn’t reflect that was just a simple misunderstanding of the mind. As this new idea resonated with me, I started changing my perception and allowing the light to flow through. I started to notice things coming a little easier. As I moved through the training process I started to become more alive, energetic and centered.

By the time your workshop came around I was marveling in this new found happiness and gratitude for the thing the were coming into my life. During the workshop when you talked about how Dr Dyer had impacted your life, I had chills run down my spine.  I realize the global impact he has on people, but I had been sitting with this immense appreciation for him in the recent weeks and I was taken aback when I heard his name. It felt like you were somehow speaking directly to me. And then it happened again!

You started talking about our choices and opening up to the experience life has to offer and Eminem started playing, “If you had one shot. one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted. One moment. would you capture it or just let it pass you by.” That earthquake inside happened again. I remember laughing, almost uncontrollably.

I finally realized I was aligning myself with God and my purpose. I saw in you exactly what I wanted to see in my self, authenticity. It took one more tiny internal earthquake a few weeks later (when I heard Dr. Dyer’s daughter was named Skye, like my son’s name. Little hints that remind me that we are all connected) to fully understand that my mind, body and spirit were aligning and I was finally understanding my purpose in life.

Last night I laid in bed with my eyes wide open in complete ahhh of this magical transformation. I could feel the light passing through me. My life long question, that I have prayed for every single night since I was a little girl, has finally been answer. My purpose is to be authentic and the rest will undoubtable fall into place. My faith in the Universe is unwavering. The people that need to come into my life will present themselves at just the right time.

I am so eternally grateful for my life.

Thank you for being a guiding light in my journey. namaste.

~~~~~~~~~

Wow. Wow.

Wow.

Listen folks: “I started changing my perception and allowing the light to flow through. I started to notice things coming a little easier.”

Did you read that? Can you hear that? Are you listening?

Let me write her words again: I started changing my perception and allowing the light to flow through. I started to notice things coming a little easier.

That’s a ripple. She started paying attention and observing the ripples. Or miracles, as I also like to call them!

Anita Moorjani and Wayne Dyer

This line makes me cry because it is so spot-on, so beautiful and so reminiscent of my mentor Anita Moorjani’s book Dying To Be Me

My life long question, that I have prayed for every single night since I was a little girl, has finally been answer. My purpose is to be authentic and the rest will undoubtable fall into place. 

That folks, is a ripple.

Go out and cause some!