Browsing Tag


Guest Posts, Self Love

Venus Envy

November 16, 2016

By Michelle Riddell

A woman’s primary nemesis is a scale—not the bathroom variety, though its adversarial powers are fierce—I am talking about a balance scale, the kind whose likeness is etched in bronze outside a courthouse. The kind of scale that compares the weight of one thing to another and registers the slightest sliver of inequity by dramatically tipping its arm. A woman imagines herself standing alone in the little gold dish on one side of the scale. She is weighted, grounded, secure. She wins if she is more, and she is more only if the other side is less. Like a zero-sum game, the outcome is distributive, never integrative, never shared.

In the second gold dish, on the opposite side of the balance arm, stand other women. Women she knows, women she loves, women she has never met yet knows intimate details about. Women who hurt her feelings back in high school, women who pretend to be interested when she talks, yet can’t bring themselves to ask her about her life. Women who begrudge her success in whatever realm it may be: another pregnancy, weight loss, a promotion, a good manicure. Women who complain about her behind her back, or don’t invite her, or don’t bother to learn her name. Women she is “friends” with but who won’t “like” the pictures she posts of her daughter’s first tooth or her tenth anniversary. Continue Reading…

Dear Life., Guest Posts

Dear Life: Awfully Successful or Dirt Cheap Happy?

March 28, 2015

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 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

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 Princeton and Philly in a couple weeks! Philly is sold out but NJ has 5 spots. I am so excited that so many of you are coming to my summer Tuscany retreat. We are almost at wait list so book soon if you want to join!

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. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that's it! Summer or Fall 2015. It is LIFE CHANGING!

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. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that’s it! Summer or Fall 2015. It is LIFE CHANGING!


Dear Life,

I’m 24 years old, moved away approx. 4500 km from home in Southern Ontario to now Edmonton Alberta when I was 19 years old. I’m confident to say most the important parts of life that are taught in young adolescent years were experienced all on my own such as managing bills, budgets, savings, work, career, education, debt, travel, vehicles, rent, and every other responsibility under the sun because I had to, I had nobody, it was sink or swim for me. As well as trying out first hand how to eliminate negativity in my life, keeping my priorities straight, staying on track and knowing who and who not to trust in my life; I have taught myself with no direct coaching.

I see this as a self-reward, an accomplishment, and independence. I don’t need anyone else to be proud of me, because I’m proud of myself. I work hard for all the things I have. I’m graduated with my Business Management Diploma, have several years experience in related fields, and worked for well-known companies in an industry that runs this whole world. I love my determination, my drive, and my goals. I have pushed myself to the limit, and I’m not done. Nowhere near done…but I feel as though I’m heading in the wrong direction, or that I have to keep trying for something bigger and better. But what exactly am I after? I don’t know.

I feel I have followed the same path everyone else takes, and that’s the path to unhappiness. Like I’m working hard for myself to be happier tomorrow than I am today…everyday. The stress of wanting to be more successful, make more money, knocking tasks off my never ending to-do list, being on time, paying my dues, which are all involved with living your life (which I’d say I was always pretty good at)… is exhausting, and stresses me out until finally a little birdie comes and tells me everything is going to be okay, money and success is just an illusion and you shouldn’t think that that’s going to make you happy tomorrow.

So I begin to worry less about everything I used to take so seriously, the things that have got me to where I am today, and I start appreciating what I have now, the people in my life, and start being and acting like a whole new person with a whole new positive outlook on life that’s free of the world’s everyday bullshit for lack of better words. A person who values life, a better person in my opinion. A person who doesn’t freak out when their cell-phone bill isn’t paid off, or when the Wi-Fi turns off or one of those people who take out my anger on other people for shit your soul doesn’t need–which I do. My determination, and my drive to keep stabilized and to move forward diminishes, and my goals are less significant to the point where even my body loves me more for it and everyone notices as well. But it only lasts monetarily till the point where I realize there’s no premium gas in my 2013 BMW.

The stresses of life brings me down, the need to be ahead brings me down, the race brings me down, realizing life isn’t about material things and money brings me down, not having material things and money brings me down, not knowing what I want or where I’m going brings me down, and reflecting on it all brings me down. Not to a state of depression, but a dangerous state of not caring about anything, and making decisions my “on-track” self would slap me for, such as careless BUT… Free Soul decisions and free soul attitude as though I’m escaping, and only then do I feel like this is what life’s supposed to be like. Happy everyday. I’m depressed only when reality settles it’s sickness back into my veins. Viciously.

I’m young still, I have endless options, I don’t have kids, I don’t have pets, my relationships with men are always on my sleeve because I’m unpredictable, I don’t even know what I’m doing sometimes, and most the time the biggest decisions that I make are last minute and as a result. And I love it. Spontaneous, a not well-liked attribute by those who have ever gotten too close to me, they know only of me leaving and creating chapters in my life, I don’t think the know what it’s like to have a burning desire to change life’s routine. And they definitely don’t know what the consequences are.

I feel my path can go one of two ways.. awfully successful, or dirt cheap happy. I would love to figure out a way to balance the two to a perfect equilibrium.

Signed, Awfully Successful or Dirt Cheap Happy?



Continue Reading…


The Only Currency In Life Worth Protecting.

November 7, 2013

The Only Currency In Life Worth Protecting. By Lindsey Mead.

My life has simultaneously narrowed and widened.

People ask me, with some regularity, how I “do it all.”  Of course, I don’t.  There is plenty I don’t do.  And I have been thinking about that a lot lately, of the immensely different ways we each populate our hours and what they say about what we value.

Every hour of our life is a choice, a trade-off between competing priorities and desires.  We are all given the same number of hours in a day.  What do you prioritize?  What do you care about?  Where are you spending your time?

In the last several years my own life has simultaneously narrowed and widened.  It has narrowed because I have substantially cut down on external (non-job and non-family) commitments.   I say no much more often than I say yes.  And even beyond commitments about my physical presence, I’ve withdrawn in a real way: for example, I spend much less time on the phone catching up with friends.

But even in this narrowing my life has startled me with an unforseen richness.  It’s like I stepped into a dense forest but then I looked up to see an enormous expanse of the sky.  Somehow, in my turning inward, I have learned to see the glittering expanse of my own life.  Maybe it is not having the other distractions.  Maybe it is that is training my gaze I have opened my heart.  I am not sure.

I spend my time with my family, I spend my time writing, I spend my time reading, I spend my time with a small number of people I entirely trust and wholly love.  I run at 5:30 in the morning because that’s the only time when the trade-off isn’t too steep for me.  It is very rare for me to have dinner, drinks, or lunch with a friend one-on-one.  The same is true for Matt and me with other couples.  On the other hand there are many evenings where I sit and read to the kids while they are in the tub, when I get into bed at 8:15pm with a book, and there are a great many days full of work.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. – Annie Dillard

Let’s all decide to no longer hide behind the excuse that we “don’t have time.”  The truer response would be “I don’t care enough to really protect the time.”  This may be harsh, but I think it’s also true.  Let’s take ownership of our choices rather than bemoaning their results.  Do you want time to meditate?  Time to go to yoga?  Time to spend reading with your children?  Well, something else has to go.  Unfortunately time, at least in the framework of a day or a week, is a zero sum game.  The ultimate one, perhaps.

Think long and hard about how you spend your precious hours, the only currency in this life that I personally think is actually worth anything.  A lot of these decisions are made instinctively, without deliberate thought or analysis.  But that’s how life is, isn’t it?  We know what we care most deeply about, and we run towards it, chins ducked.  We protect fiercely time for those things and people and events we truly value.  And those things, people, events we never seem to have time for?  Well, that tell us something important too.

I believe that if you look carefully at the map of your hours over a week or a month, you will see a reflection of what it is in this life you prize most highly.  Do you like what you see?


Lindsey Mead is a mother and writer who lives outside of Boston with her husband and two children.  Her writing has been published and anthologized in a variety of print and online sources, including the Huffington Post, Literary Mama, Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career, and the Conflict of Modern Motherhood, the Princeton Alumni Weekly, and Brain, Child.  She blogs regularly at A Design So Vast and loves connecting with people on twitter and facebook.

Inspiration, Q & A Series

Amy Dixon: Queen of Fitness. The Manifestation Q&A Series.

January 3, 2012

Hello again from London!

Welcome to The Manifestation Q&A Series. 

I am Jennifer Pastiloff and this series is designed to introduce the world to someone I find incredible. Someone who is manifesting their dreams on a daily basis. 

Today’s guest is the “Queen of Fitness” otherwise known as Amy Dixon, or Mommy to her kids. Amy happens to be one of my best friends as well as one of the people who gave me my first shot at teaching yoga. She took a risk on me because she believed in me, and that, Dear Manifesters, is the type of person I choose to surround myself with. Someone who takes risks, who follows their gut and who is not a cookie cutter of everyone else. Enter Amy Dixon.

The Queen of Fitness: Amy Dixon.

I love so many things about Amy, but the first is her dedication to her family and, by extension, her friends who have become her family. To watch Amy with her husband and children truly is an inspiration. I am fascinated by strong women who seemingly balance career and family like they were born to do it with a smile and with grace.
Anyone who takes Amy’s classes or does her dvds knows that she takes that same dedication and commitment she has for her family and brings it to her classes/students. She is a coach, an inspirational leader and someone who lives their joy. 
As far as fitness goes, I don’t do much these days except yoga and Amy’s classes. This is because I forget when I am in an “Amy class” that I am actually exercising. A dear friend of both Amy and I named Emily Rapp, once said of Amy and my own classes “You both create an experience rather than a class.”
The experience of Amy Dixon. That is what I am after today. Read and enjoy this interview by one of the most beautiful, powerful and talented people I know.


Amy and I a couple years ago.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What are you most proud to have manifested in your life?

Amy Dixon: The joy and love that I feel with my husband and children.

Jennifer Pastiloff:  What is the greatest lesson that you have learned from your daughters?

Amy Dixon: Bella teaches me everyday how to show my sensitive side and to sing out loud with confidence. Ava shows me everyday how to be independent and fierce beyond words.

Jennifer Pastiloff:  How do you balance being a mom and being a ‘Queen of Fitness’, as many call you?

Amy Dixon: Balance is a funny term to me because I truly never feel balanced unless I am home for the holidays with my family just relaxing. And the truth is that everyone, young to old feels unbalanced from time to time. I believe that “balance” is having awareness that life just isn’t balanced and using that information as a tool to help me tip the scales back in the direction of where I need to re-focus my energy. If the scale tips to deeply towards my career, it helps me be mindful to tip it right back towards my husband or my children.


Jennifer Pastiloff:  I have a list of rules. See below. What would some of Amy Dixon’s rules be?

Amy Dixon: 1) Love and have compassion for others.


2) Never take yourself too seriously.

3) Laugh as often and and loud as you can.

4) Spend real time with your loved ones.

5) Be free of hate and judgement.

6) Don’t be afraid to speak your mind even if you think it might be hard. Be REAL.

7) Exercise your body often and don’t be afraid to push yourself.

8) Don’t ever believe that anyone owes you anything.

9) Earn it…work hard for it.

10) Be confident, strong and kind.

11) ATTITUDE is everything.

Jennifer Pastiloff:  Who/what inspires you the most?

Amy Dixon: People that face adversities every single day that are free of blame and full of love.

Jennifer Pastiloff:  I teach many of my classes to the theme of gratitude. If you could say thank you right now to one person who would it be?

Amy Dixon: My husband Jeff. He is truly one of the greatest people that I know. He supports me in everything that I do…he is the Wizard. (Note from Jen: Jeff is indeed the Wizard. I know him well.)

This picture explains why I love the Dixons so much. And the guy with the beard? The "Wizard" himself.


Jennifer Pastiloff: I have taken your classes and done your videos and I am inspired by your “Can do ” attitude. Your positivity is infectious. Your messages have gotten me through many times I wanted to quit, whether on the bike or in real life. What is one message you would pass on right now to someone looking to manifest their best selves, both physically and mentally?

Amy Dixon: I am a firm believer that change requires change. If you want to do what you have always done, then be prepared to stay exactly the same. If you want to test your limits and truly make a change you have to be willing to get uncomfortable…maybe even breathless. It’s scary but totally worth it.


Jennifer Pastiloff:
  SuperFitBod. Tell us a little about that, and about how you have taken that idea way beyond simply the body.

Amy Dixon: SuperFitBod is a class that I developed over the years that incorporates strength training and cardio all rolled into one package. My motto and belief is that so many women are afraid to lift heavy weights or work out hard in fear that they will get “BIG” or look “HEAVY” and that just isn’t the case. I wanted to prove to women that being FIT is what exercise is about…it’s not about being skinny. I can tell you that people that do my workout DVDS and that are in my classes are ridiculously fit and lean. I think that every single person at some point in their life struggles with their body image and I want above all else for everyone to feel good about living in their own skin and know what it feels like to have a SuperFitBod.

Jennifer Pastiloff:  What brings you the most joy? Your joy list, as it were.

Amy Dixon: 

1) Spending time with my family.


2) Exercise of all kinds.

3) Listening to music.

4) Enjoying amazing food and wine.

5) Exploring the great outdoors. I LOVE the mountains.

6) Laughing.

Jennifer Pastiloff:  What can we expect Amy Dixon to manifest in 2012.

Amy Dixon: 

1) Spend more time with my husband and children.

2) Learn how to cook or at least try. 🙂

3) Create and produce two new DVDS

4) Create an Amy Dixon App

5) Write a book

6) Help Fitness Glo hit its groove

7) Work for a major health and lifestyle magazine as a contributor

8) Take at least ONE yoga class per week.

9) Go running ONCE per week.

10) Ride my bike outdoors.


Jen Pastiloff’s rules:

1. Be Kind.

2. Have a sense of humor especially when it comes to yourself

3. Write poems, even if only in your head

4. Sing out loud, even if badly

5. Dance

6. If you don’t have anything nice to say… you know the deal

7. Find things to be in awe of

8. Be grateful for what you have right now . yes, even your little one bedroom apartment with the ugly carpet

9. Watch Modern Family

10. Duh, do yoga

11. Don’t worry. Everyone on Facebook seems like they have happier and funner lives. They don’t.

12. Tell someone you love that you love them. Right now.

13.. Take more pictures.

14. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. no such thing.


Amy Dixon is one of the most dynamic fitness instructors and Master Trainers in the industry today.  She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise physiology as well as many other fitness certifications.  Amy is a contributing fitness expert for many major Lifestyle magazines, a master trainer for Schwinn, BOSU, and GRAVITY and stars in many critically acclaimed fitness DVD’s.  She is a former World competitive power tumbler and coach and uses that experience everyday in her classes.  With over 15 years of teaching experience, she is best known for her energy and enthusiasm for fitness.  Her energy is contagious.

She delivers a fun, performance based class and works hard to educate and motivate her students to achieve extraordinary results.  She has also been a part of the Nike Rockstar Fitness Academy in Los Angeles.  Her talents have been featured on The Today Show, ABC News, Exercise TV, Your LA, Fox News, and MTV.  Her classes and insights have been reported in Women’s Health Magazine, Self Magazine, Shape Magazine, Variety Magazine, In Touch, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.  Amy is the Group Fitness Manager for Equinox in Santa Monica.