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Gratitude, Guest Posts

Enough Is As Good As A Feast. By Amy Roost.

February 22, 2014

Enough Is As Good As A Feast. By Amy Roost.

I know a young man. From the age of 5 he was raised in the foster system, moving from home to home.

Last year, at the age of 18, he was “emancipated,” meaning he cut his ties with the courts and they with him. Since then, he was accepted into a group home, graduated high school, started classes at Palomar College and got a dishwashing job. Then he slipped up — got in some trouble. Whether he’s to blame, it’s hard to know. The good news is no charges were filed and his record remains clean. The bad news is he lost his job while he spent time in the county jail.

Last week we had lunch and caught up. He told me about his girlfriend: She’s outgoing, works as a carpet cleaner. Her dad died last year from alcoholism. Her mother likes him. He also told me where they live — in the back of a broken down van in Carlsbad.

They have a friend who lives in a house around the corner from where the van is parked. She lets them keep food in her refrigerator and use her shower. They’re eligible for food stamps, so they at least have food.

We had pizza for lunch and he took the leftovers to go. I drove him to the mall to get him a new skateboard deck. The van needs a fuel pump so the skateboard is his primary mode of transportation for now. We went to Costco so I could pick up a few “staples,” like wine, Pellegrino, aged cheddar, tomatoes. I bought him a case of ramen and some Cherrios. As we were loading things in the back of my car a $1 bill fell from his pocket onto the ground. He was pleasantly surprised.

As we waited at a stoplight on the way back to his “place,” we saw a woman standing on the corner with a dog and a sign that read “God Bless. Anything Helps.” The young man reached down into his pocket and handed the dollar bill to me, “Here, give this to her.” I rolled down my window and did as he told me. He then leaned across me and asked of the woman, “Are you hungry?” “Yes,” she said. The young man then reached into the backseat and grabbed the box with the leftover pizza and handed it out the window to the woman. I was surprised by both gestures, but especially the pizza because he’d already called his girlfriend on my phone to tell her he was bringing home dinner.

As we pulled away, the woman asked me, “Are you taking good care of him?” I said I was and she said, “Good. I’ll pray for you.” I told her I’d pray for her too.

When we were down the road a ways, the young man said, “Do you know who that was?” Surprised and wondering what I missed, I answered, “No.”

“That’s my girlfriend’s mother,” he told me.

A little further down the road we saw an older man rolling up the sidewalk in a wheel chair. The young man said, “That’s Danny.” I said, “Oh, how do you know Danny?” He said, “I help him get around when he needs pushing. I know most of the homeless people in Carlsbad. We all look out for each other.”

As I process the interaction in the warmth of my home overlooking the Pacific Ocean, I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. One thing I am sure of is that a young man who is struggling to make his way in the world and helping others make theirs schooled me in a few of the heavenly virtues, namely liberality (a nobility of thought or actions) and humility. I’m also sure that enough is ofttimes as good as a feast.

On this, the 50th anniversary of the declaration of the War on Poverty, may we all learn to share what we have, our leftovers, and found dollar bills. And no matter what we possess, be it a feast or just enough, may we all look out for each other.

Click photo to connect with Amy.

Click photo to connect with Amy.

Her multi-dimensional suchness, Amy Roost, is a freelance writer, book publicist, legal and medical researcher, and vacation rental manager. She and her husband are the authors of “Ritual and the Art of Relationship Maintenance” due to be published later this year in a collection entitled Ritual and Healing: Ordinary and Extraordinary Stories of Transformation (Motivational Press). Amy is also Executive Director of Silver Age Yoga Community Outreach (SAYCO) which offers geriatric yoga teacher certification, and provides yoga instruction to underserved seniors.

Click here to connect with Amy.

***

Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer based in Los Angeles. She is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Jen will be 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 and for ALL levels. Read this post to understand what a Manifestation retreat is. Check out her site jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Jen and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. A lot. Next up is a workshop in New York City on March 15. Book here.

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

What’s On Your F*ck It List?

February 2, 2014

By Kathleen Emmets

A year ago today, I was cancer free and on my way home from an amazing weekend retreat at Kripalu run by Jennifer Pastiloff. During those three days, I discussed my fear and anger and hopes for my future (even though I was scared to death of what the future might hold). Even with no evidence of disease, cancer still controlled my life.

Four months later I learned the cancer was back. Life, once again, had to be put on hold.

Or did it?

When what you fear the most in life occurs, what else is there to fear? The answer is: nothing.

Seems as if along with some tumors, I grew a pair of balls. I made plans for my future. I traveled. I laughed. I wrote. I loved and I lived. I realized every time I used the phrase, “I’ll be happy when..” I was allowing fear to control my life.

“I’ll be happy when my next scan is clear.”
“I’ll be happy when I’m in remission for over five years”

Life doesn’t work that way. There are no guarantees that anything will happen, except life itself. It will always keep moving, keep changing.

Be happy now.

Don’t wait for someday, some person, some job, some thing. Now. Right now. No matter what you are going through there can be joy found somewhere. Find it.

As Jen says: Be a beauty hunter.

I returned to Kripalu again this weekend for Jen’s workshop; this time a little slower due to the chemotherapy I’m back on. I kept up with the yoga moves as much as I could; sometimes falling into child’s pose when my body began to give out.

Jen never pushes you physically, I love her for that. Emotionally though? She draws it out of you. Her own openness and vulnerability make you want to be your most authentic self. Her writing prompts have you digging deep and cut right through the bullshit. There is no hiding when she comes close and looks into your eyes. When you have given all you can give, she smiles that knowing smile. It is the smile of someone who has been there, who has experienced pain and wants to help you get to the other side of it. I love that smile.

Jen is a firm believer in asking for what you want. She prompted us to write about things we wanted to ask for in life, without fear of the word ‘no’. Here is my list:

1. Hey, God, can you finally rid my body of this cancer once and for all?
2. Dr. Kemeny, can I come off of the chemotherapy yet?
3. Can I be loved in the way I want and need to be loved?
4. Can I continue to have these amazing orgasms…but, with someone else in the room?
5. Can someone help me make my ‘Fuck It List’ a platform I use to help others going through difficulties in life?

I’ll wait and see if the Universe answers these questions for me. What I won’t wait for, however, is my happiness. That will come regardless of the answer.

Thank you, Jennifer Pastiloff, for all that you are and all that you do. I know who is walking beside me; 40 incredible women from this retreat. Much love to you all.

Kathleen at Kripalu.

Kathleen at Kripalu.

***

Note from Jen: I am humbled, not only to read this, but to know Kathleen. Please send her love on Wednesday as she has her next scans. Oh, and fuck you, Cancer.

ps, what’s on your Fuck It List? Post below!

Don’t you love the Fuck It List idea? Let’s help her make it viral! Connect with her here. Say I sent you, k?

I asked everyone to draw picture of what they wanted their life to look like and Kathleen drew this. The caption said, "Look, I'm a rockstar, Jen!"

I asked everyone to draw picture of what they wanted their life to look like and Kathleen drew this. The caption said, “Look, I’m a rockstar, Jen!”

Kathleen Emmets is an avid music lover and yoga enthusiast. She believes in seeking out the good in all things and being her most authentic self. Her articles have appeared in MindBodyGreen and Do You Yoga. She writes about her experience with cancer in her blog, cancerismyguru.blogspot.com. Kathleen lives in East Norwich, NY with her husband, son, 2 cats and dog. She does not necessarily love them in that particular order.
March 13 NYC! A 90 minute class for women, girls and non-gender conforming folks (we encourage teens 16 and up) and all levels that will combine flow yoga, meditation, empowerment exercises, connection and maybe, just maybe, a dance party. This will be a class to remind you that you are enough and that you are a badass. It will be fun and empowering and you need no yoga experience: just be a human being. Let’s get into our bodies and move! Be warned: This will be more than just a basic asana class. It will be a soul-shifting, eye-opening, life-changing experience. Come see why Jen Pastiloff travels around the world and sells out every workshop she does in every city. This will be her last class before she has her baby so sign up soon. Follow her on instagram at @jenpastiloff and @girlpoweryouareenough.   Jen is also doing her signature Manifestation workshop in NY at Pure Yoga Saturday March 5th which you can sign up for here as well (click pic.)

March 13 NYC! A 90 minute class for women, girls and non-gender conforming folks (we encourage teens 16 and up) and all levels that will combine flow yoga, meditation, empowerment exercises, connection and maybe, just maybe, a dance party. This will be a class to remind you that you are enough and that you are a badass. It will be fun and empowering and you need no yoga experience: just be a human being. Let’s get into our bodies and move! Be warned: This will be more than just a basic asana class. It will be a soul-shifting, eye-opening, life-changing experience. Come see why Jen Pastiloff travels around the world and sells out every workshop she does in every city. This will be her last class before she has her baby so sign up soon. Follow her on instagram at @jenpastiloff and @girlpoweryouareenough.
Jen is also doing her signature Manifestation workshop in NY at Pure Yoga Saturday March 5th which you can sign up for here as well (click pic.)

 

 

Join Jen Pastiloff in Tuscany Sep 17-24, 2016. There are 5 spaces left. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com asap. More info here. Must email first to sign up.

Join Jen Pastiloff in Tuscany Sep 17-24, 2016. There are 5 spaces left. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com asap. More info here. Must email first to sign up.

And So It Is, Guest Posts, Making Shit Happen, Manifestation Retreats, Tribe

Making Sh*t Happen: The Experience of a Lifetime.

January 2, 2014

New Year #MSH by Martha Meyer Barantovich

photo by Linda Hooper

photo by Linda Hooper

A perfectly perfect day.  A perfectly perfect time of year.  A perfectly perfect opportunity for relaxation.

It would seem that flying to LA and driving the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH for all the cool kids) while watching the sun set into the water was a brilliant idea.  Ojai, California was the backdrop for an amazing retreat with Jennifer Pastiloff, of the New Jersey Pastiloffs and of Karaoke Yoga/Manifestation Workshop fame.  I had signed my beloved husband Joe (heretofore “My Lobster) and myself up for Jen’s Inaugural Manifestation New Year’s Retreat.

I walked in feeling like I was hanging onto my last ounce of sanity and left more than transformed, with enough life changing memories and lessons that will stick with me forever.

Broken, Battered, Bewildered and Beautiful.

Walking into a room full of strangers, on my 47th birthday, and trying to express in a circle what it means to be at a Manifestation retreat (where people come to “Make Shit Happen”; hashtag #MSH), is like being dropped into the middle of Siberia. In the middle of winter.  With no coat.  And no Russian. And no vodka.

Like whoa.  Who does that? Who decides at the end of the year that they are going to allow themselves to be ripped open and peered at by strangers? Who decides that spending their birthday with the unknown and the unknowing would be a the way to celebrate life? Who gathers in a space during football bowl season without a TV or a sports bar? Me. And My Lobster. And everyone else there too it seemed. Because we had to.  Because, as Jen repeated (she does this a lot…repeats…and repeats… so you’ll get it, I mean get it, no, I mean really get IT), “like attracts like”.

So there we were 40 some odd strangers who were broken and battered and bewildered and beautiful. This is my observation that came from the self talk in our opening circle. We had collectively broken up, gotten back together, changed jobs, changed life statuses, changed coasts, moved in, moved out, retreated before, manifested before, worked our way to just being, and some just showed up because that’s what they needed to do. We needed to speak our truth (notice the little t) so that we could start “drawing to us” our desires/manifestations for 2014.  We had to open the door to our souls just a little and let a little light in and a little darkness out to get things rolling.  And let me tell you.  When you are broken and battered and bewildered and beautiful, it only takes a speck of sand on your mountain of shit to start the avalanche of healing.  Deep soul healing.

What are you manifesting? What are you doing to be inspired? How are you setting up your life to experience “Joy for NO Reason”? And we begin.  We OM.  I mean we really OM.  I love to Om. (Side note…not the OM that you may read about that involves half naked women and pillows and such).  I could drop and cross my legs and close my eyes anywhere and OM from the depth of my soul because the sound and the connection and the vibration totally rocks my world.  Imagine a room full of broken, battered, bewildered, and beautiful people letting their walls fall and OMing from the depths of their soul.  Together.  In a room that has nothing but positive, radiant energy in it.  And you’re sitting almost knee to knee with strangers creating a vibration that moves through the rafters towards heaven and bounces off walls and to you and ….wow.  I wanted to hold on to that sound forever. Like a musical snapshot.  I don’t ever want to forget the power that was in those voices.

Because I knew that I had come to a place that was going to heal me and my broken, battered, bewildered, beautiful self.

I needed this so I could get out of this horrible place in my head that I have been in since January 7, 2013, my quit smoking (again) day.  I’m coming up on my 1 year anniversary.  My lungs are happy, my skin is happy, my family is happy, My Lobster is happy, society is happy, everyone I know keeps telling my what an awesome thing it was to quit smoking.  And it has sucked.  Everyday for the past 359 days has sucked. There have been varying degrees of suckiness, from lying on a bed in the fetal position with a knife in my hand just wishing I could die to just feeling generally meh. Quitting smoking, while making everyone else in the world happy has made me miserable.  It was the last thing I had to hide behind.  It was my thing that removed me from uncomfortable situations, that allowed me to separate myself from the crowd, that allowed me opportunity to disconnect for a while, that occupied my time and my thoughts, that generally just owned my life.  Good God.  I was owned my nicotine (that is an absolute breakthrough in those words…never said that before or even thought it).  And in its own sick way, nicotine and cigarettes saved me.  They were ALWAYS there for me.  They ALWAYS protected me.  You need to know that because I was left alone. When the cigarettes left I was exposed.  And naked.  And vulnerable. And I didn’t know how to do any of those things.  Because, let’s be honest…who messes with the chick who smokes and is built like a linebacker? Ya….nobody.  And I liked it that way.  For 30 of my 45 years I was safe and protected and ok.  And then, just like that, I wasn’t.  And how I made it to my 47th birthday is beyond me.

 

If it Jiggles, It’s not finished.

And so the whirlwind manifestation retreat comes barreling at you…stampeding straight towards you.  There’s no time to think, there’s only time to be real and authentic and to SHOW UP.  You don’t have time to question or judge or be concerned or worry or shoulda/coulda/woulda about anything.  Because you open yourself up by calling forth your #MSH (manifestation/desire) and BAM Jen is taking you on the ride.  Cat/Cow, downdog, crescent lunge, hiya, warrior 1,2,3, breathe, sigh, inhale, hands to prayer, repeat the mantra, 6 more times, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat.  Sweat, start to cry.  Listen to the music.  You’re moving collectively, individually, in your own space and in others and you’re concentrating and calling forth and meditating and oh my GAWD…Why am I fucking crying again? Is it this song? Is it Jen’s words on repeat? Is it the moving? The space? the breathing? STOP.  DROP.  “PICK UP YOUR PENS”….what? I can’t breathe woman…can’t you see me heaving with emotion and trying to catch my breath after the 174 vinyasas you just made me do? Can’t you tell that I’m in no condition to write a goddamn word…oh…and I have to answer questions as I write? And dear …what…? I’m not the only mess in the room.  There are sniffles and heavy breathing and silence…as I am surrounded by people who are being authentic and vulnerable and honest and raw and true and sad and joyful and amazing and not finished.

We are all just getting started on this part of the journey and Jen is forcing us to confront ideas and realities that are amazing and painful and beautiful and awesome and ridiculous and…..huh??? Did I just hear my name? Oh you want me to share out loud with these people my raw truth that just came from, I swear, the center of the earth.

I am

What people say I am: giving, kind, joyful, caring, a good teacher, friendly, fun. What I say: fat, not worthy, not good enough (I am sloppy crying at this point), useless. The truth is I am a caring, giving, enthusiastic supporter who will take on the giants for others but is afraid to follow through with the little things. I can’t breathe at this point.  I’m pretty sure I have snot dripping everywhere, but I feel so free because the truth is: I never take stock of the Truth. Truth with a capital T, not a little t.  I think that I mostly allow the little t to fake represent the big T.  And so I’m not done.  I’m still jiggly, like the ganache baking in the oven that isn’t ready (I’ll be glad to share the amazing insights from Caspar Poyck at another time).  It needs more time.  And whoa again….jiggly is ok.  It’s like more than ok.

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Caspar Poyck

It’s awesome and freeing and beautiful and I think I’m experiencing “Joy for No Reason”.

And I’m pretty sure that I want this feeling to last forever.

Vulnerability is Sexy

And this goes on and on and on and we breathe and move and listen and sweat and stop drop and pick up our pens and write and share and laugh and cry and do it again and again and again.

And looking back it was over in a minute.  But while there it was like this roller coaster that has these little dips and I’m like “Ok..this is cool…not too scary, not too safe” and I can’t see in front of me so I don’t know what’s coming and then the car turns a corner and    dropsofastyoucantthinkastowetheryoushouldscreamorcryorvomitorhitsomeoneordieorliveorgetofforstayonorahhhh

and you laugh.  This laugh that sounds like someone has lit you on glitter fire and filled a room with butterflies and chocolate fountains and all the things that make you fill loved and safe and wonderful and joy.  And in that first second I think, “Do I deserve this?” And Jen comes up with another one of her Jen-isms like, “Choose love” “Let go of fear” “Be Fucking Awesome” and the feeling of love and letting go and being awesome is so overwhelming I just want to open my mouth and scream and laugh and burst forth and hug strangers (oooohh…that’s big…cause Martha don’t like strangers in her space), and tell people how beautiful they are.  And I know it wasn’t just me that felt that, because I watched people who were sitting hunched over in our opening circle look up and smile and lift their hearts and breathe deeper. And I saw people who don’t cry, cry.  And connect.  And love.  And open.  And blossom.  And share.  And be vulnerable.

And after every class and writing session I think, how can I possible do anymore of this? How can I not? 

Begin Again

And so I leave California and head back home to Miami, to reality, to my life.  And I’m full. Full in my soul. And connected to a tribe.  And I’m full of love for these wonderful people who have been a part of a change.  An individual/collective change that is going to individually/collectively make 2014 amazing.  Because 2013 is gone.  The rock that caused the flat isn’t important.  What’s important is to change the flat and move on.  And find your true self.  So I leave you with these manifestation retreat insights:

  • Drink good wine.
  • Eat good food.
  • Laugh.
  • Love deeply.
  • Have an energetic clearing.
  • Attend a yoga class.
  • Move your energy around with sound bowls.
  • Hit a gong.
  • Listen to nature.
  • Sit in a chair as the sun rises and stare at nothing and at everything.
  • Take pictures.
  • Dance.
  • Sing.
  • Write.
  • Share your story.
  • Don’t box people up so that you feel better.
  • Let go.  Open up.  Be free.
  • Get your fingers dirty with your food.
  • Write a love note to yourself.
  • Look someone in the eyes as they speak so you give them your undivided attention.
  • Make new friends.
  • Be real and honest.
  • Put down your phone.
  • Thank someone who loves you for loving you.
  • Be vulnerable.  Good grief.  Be vulnerable.
  • Share your gift(s).
  • Manifest your Lobster or your dream job or money or time or whatever you need.  Hashtag #MSH.
  • Say thank you aloud and to things and ideas and life.
  • And when you get a chance, find Jen on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or the web and join a room full of strangers with shit piles just like you (because there are no accidents) and manifest.  Inspire yourself to be inspired.  Everyday.  Bring your hands to prayer. Place them in front of your heart. And repeat when necessary “I am worthy”

Because if I am worthy, so must you be.  

by Martha Meyer Barantovich (click to connect with Martha.)

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May 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.

May 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.

The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for May 25th cleanse. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the new season of spring. 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 May 25th cleanse. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the new season of spring. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation.

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!

Guest Posts, writing, Yoga

Strong & Fragile Parts. By Arielle Bernstein.

August 18, 2013

Strong and Fragile Parts by Arielle Bernstein.

 

I first started doing yoga two years ago, when my ex was offered a temporary position in Mongolia. I had the apartment we had shared at the time to myself and for the first time in a pretty long time I was living alone. I was looking for anything to distract myself from the pain of separation and found a 50-dollar all you can do month long yoga deal. I thought even if I hated it, 50 dollars was worth a few classes. Before then I had been one of those people who gently chided yoga aficionados, always running about with their yoga mats in tow, wearing their Lululemon and eating salad.

I have spent my twenties forcing myself to try new things, but I still tend to give up on things I’m not naturally good at quickly.

I’ll travel the world, but I’m afraid of diving in and learning a language, knowing I won’t be as proficient in it, at least immediately, as I am in my mother tongue.

All this is a long way of saying I love yoga, but I still kind of suck at it. My body resists a lot of poses I try to get into and whenever I take a class there are a bunch of people surrounding me who are doing things better than I am. I don’t know if I will ever be one of those people who effortlessly and elegantly goes into headstand. I do find complete comfort in a quiet room, the scent of nag champa and patchouli everywhere, the peacefulness of bare wood floors and my body not trying to do anything but be in one place.

Yoga is the one place I give myself permission to smile when I fuck something up, to not be competitive with the people sitting across or next to me.  

In a goal-oriented culture this type of space is actually relatively rare. We are taught to feel guilty about unstructured time. Yoga like most things popularized in American culture, is often sold as a status item for consumers. We have magazines that feature young, healthy blonde women looking seamlessly sexy and peacefully poised. What separates appropriation of a tradition and appreciation for it? Probably, for the outside onlooker, very little. When I walk around with my cutely designed yoga mat and yoga pants, I probably look a lot like the middle class white people who popularize yoga magazines. Lucky for me, in yoga class I don’t look graceful- I’m a little ball of sweat, trying at things I often can’t quite reach, until falling, relieved, into child’s pose.

When I was 16, I had a close friend with a degenerative illness who had just gone through surgery. The town where I went to high school was small and we were all very sad for our friend, but at the time I was going through a lot of other things too- typical 16 year old angsty things, as well as an, at the time, undiagnosed eating disorder that made a lot of my anxiety and depression a heck of a lot worse.

During this time period I remember my father driving me to school and mentioning to me that I really was lucky to have the body that I had and that I should be good to it- that in life no one is guaranteed anything and we need to be grateful for the things we have all the time because we are so incredibly lucky every single day we are here alive, breathing and experiencing the world around us.

I didn’t understand what he was telling me at all at the time and, in fact, I thought his comments initially were insensitive to just how different our culture views female bodies from male ones. Today, I think about the advice my father gave me often, probably daily, especially when I finish up a yoga class and I have time to reflect on the things I did right and also the positions or poses I didn’t quite reach.

Since I was a little girl I craved equal parts privacy and connection.

I still love the blood rush of intimacy about as often as I push it away. Two years ago yoga equipped me with the strength to be alone and a year after, when my ex and I broke up, yoga helped me grieve that loss, to manage my sadness and anger and to make choices that were the best ones for me to make.

I love writing because it helps me to distill my feelings and impressions of the world around me- it helps me value my experiences more; it keeps me conscious of my heart. Yoga is a physical manifestation of this same attitude: It not only keeps me conscious of my body, it also nurtures it. It not only makes me better aware of my breath, it makes me grateful, truly grateful for both my strong and fragile parts.

 

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ARIELLE BERNSTEIN is a writer living in Washington, D.C. She teaches at American University and also freelances. Her work has been published in The Millions, The Rumpus, St. Petersburg Review, South Loop Review, The Ilanot Review and Press Play (Indie Wire). She has been listed three times as a finalist in Glimmer Train short story contests. She is currently writing her first book.
Guest Posts

Freeways. Why Is Connecting So Hard? Guest Post by Brendan Bonner.

May 29, 2013

Freeways by Brendan Bonner.

 

Why is it so difficult to connect with Los Angeles? Every time I call, Los Angeles is on the other line, busy or in a meeting. I’ve left so many messages and texts. I once sent a Western Union telegram to Los Angeles reading: Dear Los Angeles. Stop. Called, written, cried. Stop. Let’s talk, I’m open for anything. Stop. Will consider selling out and/or subjugating myself. Stop. Yours, if you’ll have me. Stop. Signed, Me. I never heard back.

Since moving to Los Angeles, I’ve tried to make connections, get past that which is within me that says I am separate. This has translated into many relationships with women that began with all the promise of a newborn baby but too many times that I care to mention, ended with the disappointment and heartbreak of a 40 year old drug addicted son calling, once again, for 20 bucks. Sometimes I think I have had far too much sex for my own good. Its taken many years to figure out that sex has never been an adequate substitute for wanting to be held, seen. But amidst this longing, this attachment, this feverish grabbing for attention, I have noticed that my appreciation for the minutiae has grown exponentially. The tiniest things seem to hold more weight; a casual door held open, the smallest of smirks. Thank yous become roses blossoming in garbage heaps. Nothing goes unacknowledged because in Los Angeles even the smallest of gestures, the tiniest of contributions to me seem like the grandest of parades, because in Los Angeles if its not big enough to be filmed it doesn’t exist, because if I don’t honor it all, I seem not to exist.

There have definitely been dark times. I have experienced moments where the fear of sliding off the side of the planet without leaving behind so much as a fingerprint has paralyzed me. I have had my nose crushed against the possibility of dying alone, my arms pinned behind my back by the thought of watching my loved ones die. The worst was after being broken up in an email. We met on a photo shoot and there was something I was so sure about with her. As soon as we met, I knew that I was done looking for that special partner. The one I wouldn’t mind getting old with, the one I could picture nursing through sickness, the one whom with I would withstand the ugliness and the shit. I had brought her with me to New York for Christmas to meet my family. Needing to be at work the day after Christmas, I dropped her off at the Newark Airport on Christmas morning. She was upset, again, and her parting words were, “I don’t know that I can do this.” I left her at curb side check-in with her luggage, a kiss on the cheek and a promise to call her the moment I touched down in Los Angeles. By the time I reached my sisters house on Long Island, I had received an email, filled with who-do-you-think-you-ares and how-dare-yous and her claiming me as the quintessential king douschebag of boyfriends. A Christmas morning, egg nog, mistletoe and an electronic “fuck you” make for a black Christmas, no matter how much snow on the ground.  Of the nine months we were together, just long enough to birth something, she tried to abort the relationship five times. I was the lamaze to her pennyroyal. Three times I talked her down from jumping, once I flat out refused and the last I acquiesced. You don’t have to break up with me six times for me to get the message, I thought. I let her go, gave her up to the universe, trusting the adage, “ If you love some one…” I’m guessing she got lost on her way back.

Much of my experience in Los Angeles has been learning to navigate “no.” As an actor, you hear that more than any other word. There are no’s to work, no’s to relationships, no’s to my no’s; seemingly, there are no’s to my being, my existence. A few years back, I auditioned and  made it to the final callbacks for the Blue Man Group. Trained in theater, I felt I had met my creative partner. The Blue Men were true theater, I thought. They made a difference with their quirky and odd style of theater, I thought. This is what I want to do with my life, I thought. At the callback, I rehearsed two of their routines, got bald and blue and gave it my all. I wanted this badly enough to lose any sense of the literal. Everything was cloaked in nebulous meaning as I began to see everything blue. Kind Of Blue seemed to play more than usual. A blue sky toyed with my heart strings. I went so far as to pull meaning from being hit in the chest with a blueberry that came out of a passing Big Blue Bus on Wilshire Boulevard. I felt the something hit me, reached down, and looked quizzically at the blueberry. I mean, A BLUEBERRY CAME FROM A BIG BLUE BUS!! I took this as a wink from God herself. A sort of head nod that said, I got you. When they called to tell me I wasn’t Blue Man material, I was devastated, crushed. No had broken my heart.

I grab onto whatever will give me weight, keep me from blowing away with the Santa Anas. Gin worked for a time. It filled out part of my heart, found sound in my voice but it  quickly stopped. Hangovers got old and I could only have my heart invested in screaming at myself for so long. Drugs don’t work. Sluggishness is not weight. Dullness has life be a distant memory, something that I forgot and try like hell to remember. Untethered, I master nonexistence within existence, I achieve a shallowness to the weight. I check the couch cushions to see if I’ve left an impression. I look for my shadow like a lost child and expect to find it on the back of milk cartons. Yet, something else is there; a relic from a distant me, undiscovered and un-excavated. It is a single blade of grass burgeoning through the cement, fragile and weak, dumb enough to try to live amongst the bleakness. So, I circle the wagons. I retreat to where it is safe to watch, where I can truly see people through the ego and the smog. I go to the laugh lines of L.A, the crows feet of the city. I go to the freeways.

The 101 to the 110 to the 10 to the 405, back to the 101. Most of life in Los Angeles happens in cars and sometimes we spend more time en route than at our actual destinations. The time spent enclosed in our vehicles, our little fish bowls, our very own biospheres complete with A/C and soundtracks, with either extremely lax or very stringent smoking policies, is time well spent. From our mini mobile offices, we conduct our lives, applying make up, making up and making things up. I like to spend my spare time on the freeways. I have heard it said that it takes a half hour to get anywhere in Los Angeles, but those people that say that either are drunk or live in Seattle. Driving across town, which is the Los Angeles pastime, I think that I get to truly see Los Angeles, the actual one, not the one Los Angeles would like you to see, but the early morning-no make-up-before the first cup of coffee and cigarette Los Angeles. Los Angeles unplugged. I think of this as I sweat it out on the LA freeways, stuck behind the throngs of people, in their cars, alone, unfiltered and by themselves.

A magical thing takes place when we get in our cars, when we get on the freeways; we become invisible. We think we cannot be seen by anyone else as we stop and go, stop and go and I love this illusion because it allows me to watch those that think they cannot be seen. I cheer those that, using a pen or a brush as a microphone, belt out about Rolling in the Deep, pound out on the dash their best impression of Neil Peart on Limelight or shred the solo of Sweet Child o’ Mine over the steering wheel. I applaud when I see people exploring their God given right to take their index finger and insert it directly into their nostril. I once saw a man in the car next to me on Wilshire Blvd. crying and punching himself in the face. It was barely noon and this man was in a deep ceded fight with himself and in broad daylight his pyrrhic victory was willingly and wildly exposed. The free ways are full of self expression and this is Los Angeles at it’s finest, at it’s most intimate. The HOV lanes are empty because it is a city of one, a city of singularity. In our cars we become people on display for others to gape at in wondrous amazement. Our consciousness refuses to separate from the television as the fourth wall of our lives is always revered and never breached.

People are not good to each other. This was whispered to me many years ago and I can see it in the faces of those with whom I share this city. I can see it in the lines of my face as I get older. If I have ever gone untouched, unspoken to, then how many of us have laid in bed, dreaming of that one person who left. Perhaps if they were, our deaths would not be so sad. How many of us cannot hold even our own gaze? I have found sweetness in my sympathy for others pain. I search to see myself in the people of this city and no correlate is too far fetched, no relation is too absurd. I am that Latino man who has “Trust No One” tattooed across his chest. I am drunk on Santa Monica Boulevard being subdued by an inappropriate amount of police officers. I am homeless on the beach throwing punches at the waves.

I was but three weeks in Los Angeles, still getting acclimated, still finding my way, still breathing in this wonderfully noxious air as if it was my first time breathing. I was excited to be in this city, of all cities, having dreamed of it at 16, the first time I read Bret Easton Ellis’ Less Than Zero. I had romanticized every aspect of living here so that most of my visualizations looked like scenes from an 80’s movie; the golden light streaming over the hills and through the big window that overlooked the blue of the Pacific. My visions knew no geographical bounds. However, I was soon to learn, as I still am learning, that most of what I thought Los Angeles to be was nowhere near to what Los Angeles is.

I sat watching TV; I hadn’t yet gotten cable in the new apartment, so I was subject to the local stations replete with their fascination of Golden Girls reruns and sensationalistic blood lust-like news casts. As I flipped through the seven stations for the eleventh time that hour, I began to hear a noise I wasn’t use to just yet. Guessing new sounds was a new game I played. Oooh!, I thought! A new sound to get accustomed to! It crackled and popped, like fire but no smell accompanied it. I turned off the TV, sat in the dark listening and looked to the front windows noticing how the light moved; far from a feature of the staid street lamps, this one danced and played off the walls of my small one bedroom. Both the sound and light increased in volume as I got to my feet and moved towards the window. I drew the blinds and discovered, down on the street below my apartment window, a Toyota Celica engulfed in flames. I instinctively jumped back from the window and hit the ground. I had seen this very thing in countless TV shows and movies. It was only a matter of moments before the fire reached the gas line and the car exploded, showering everything around it with shattered glass and metal. I’d be knocked down by the force of the blast and somewhere down the street, I imagined, was the culprit, walking in slow motion away from the scene, as the flames burned and grew in the background. I laid there on the floor, waiting for the big bang, thinking of how easy or difficult would it be to sweep broken glass off of carpet, as I had not yet gotten a vacuum. I laid there for a few moments more before I heard the sirens. I got to my feet, walked outside and the car was there burning, in no danger of exploding. A fittingly foreshadowing image; a promise of something great, exciting that never quite makes the grade. I kept staring at the fire, at its flames eating away at the interior, at the people gathering to ogle and in my head Neil Young sang how it was better to burn out than to fade away. I sat on my steps thinking this is much less exciting than in the movies. I sat there underwhelmed and watched it burn.

There are days when I want to burn it all down, to incite without, the revolution playing itself out within. I imagine the feel of the Molotov in my hand, the smell of burning gasoline. I imagine the bottle leaving my hand, its arc and subsequent breaking of the store front glass and the whole frame of the picture being gorged with flames. I imagine gathering round to loot the remains and pick the meat from the bones. Then I make eye contact with someone and that nightmare recedes and I am lost in the life of another. It is through them that my life is lived. It is found exactly at the point where my life ends and theirs begins. So, I sit in my car and observe the life that takes place on the freeways. I patiently wait for that perfect moment to break that fourth wall, to spoil and blemish all the proper rules of engagement and connect. I see this need out in Los Angeles, wanting to not just be filmed but truly seen. I will look into the eyes of Los Angeles, time will stop, history will end and we will fall in love. I know this in my bones.

In Los Angeles, amidst the no, I have found yes.

 

~~~~

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Brendan is a dear dear friend of mine an I encourage you to connect with him here. Please leave comments to this beautiful essay below so he can see them and respond accordingly. This is his second guest post on The Manifest-Station. Click here to read his first. Thanks, tribe, xo jen

Forgiveness, Guest Posts

Forgiveness Leads to Perfection.

May 13, 2013

Forgiveness leads to Perfection by R. Byron Hord

The first question anyone asks when they have gone through a “bad” experience (and please note that I use the term bad loosely, in the realm of the Divine, there are no “bad” experiences) as humans we go to the place of Why? Is it me? Am I getting punished? Why did the man upstairs decide to do this to me? I pray. I give back. I love people? I thought these were my friends? I thought she loved me?

I-Ching teaches all man that the only thing that is constant is change.

As we grow stronger in faith, grow stronger in our convictions, closer to the Source, things change in Divine Order. Sometimes this change could be sudden, other times this change is gradual. But the reality is that change is coming.

The test in life is whether or not we are truly able and/or ready to handle it.

Within our hearts we know what is right in our life and what is wrong.

You have a job that you hate and you are wishing it to be over.

You have a car that has been giving you problems for years and you are wishing it would disappear.

You are in a relationship that you know is not right for you.

You brood over these facts for days, weeks, months, years, and then… BAM!!! It happens suddenly.

Your boss that you’ve detested for years tells you that you are let go for no reason.

Your car gets totaled in a freak accident.

Your significant other leaves their Gmail open and you stumble on lustful emails to another person. You’re angry and immediately break up with them.

Now… how do we react in these situations?

Most of the time we enter into a mode of self-pity. We curse the situation. We curse the universe. We curse ourselves.

Instead we should be thankful and forgive.

Extractions from our lives are often blessings in disguise. The removal of waste is a part of our livelihood. It is part of what keeps us healthy.

Imagine if your body never dispelled waste. You would be poisoned every second of your life. Disease would engulf your body and you would inevitably perish.

So if that is the case of bodily waste, wouldn’t the same be true with spiritual “waste”? Wouldn’t our souls begin to deteriorate with the existence of a spiritual poison in our lives, in whatever form it manifested itself?

Many times we get comfortable with the pain, even as we continually ask for release from it.

We don’t even realize it, until that pain is gone… then we miss the poison that at some point began to pacify us.

We miss the fix.

As we gain closeness to the Divine, and our prayers become answered with higher frequency, we cannot dictate the what, when, where and how they will be answered.

We just have to embrace the answers however they come.

And when the pain and sadness is experienced after those poisons are finally extracted from your life, don’t curse it. Forgive and wish for the best for everyone and everything.

Then continue on your path to spiritual perfection.

Thanks to the beloved Bryant Mcgill and Simplereminders for the quote poster. Click photo to connect with Simplereminders.

Thanks to the beloved Bryant Mcgill and Simplereminders for the quote poster. Click photo to connect with Simplereminders.

R. Byron Hord is a Los Angeles based writer working in the industry for 10 plus years and is now owner of Uneq Interactive, whose mission is to Empower youth through interactivity.

If you’d like to connect with Byron please leave a note/comment below as he will respond. His website is being reconstructed.

Awe & Wonder, Beating Fear with a Stick, Manifestation Retreats

What Will Never Go Up In Smoke.

February 22, 2013

It was hard leaving Maui today but not hard in the way it is to leave a vacation or a beautiful place. Hard in the way falling in love is after you’ve been hurt. The way you want to trust it and say Yes, come on in but you are afraid and that But I am afraid wells up in your throat like a stone and you can’t speak for it. And although you are happy you are also sad because you recognize this feeling of having something and yet not trusting you have it. Not trusting that it’s a thing to be had. It’s a football rushing at you and you’re going I got it! I got it! and then I don’t got it. All at once. If that’s possible.

The stone in your throat is hard, as stones tend to be (especially stones in the throat) which is the place things often get stuck, even if they aren’t stones. Even if they are people.

Stones and words and anger and all the rest. All the things.

Before we ended the retreat this morning, the girls gave me a necklace to say Thank You. One of the most beautiful necklaces I have ever seen and as I held it in my hands I thought how I shouldn’t look up at them because I probably wasn’t reacting in the way they expected of me (Tears? Emotion?) so I kept looking down at the gold chain, at the purple stone, at my ugly hands holding this beautiful gesture. Don’t look up, keep looking down. Don’t ever look up. (No tears? No emotion?)

Well, no. I wasn’t there. I was looking down on it all. A million hours passed and I finally looked up and they all had tears in their eyes and were nodding thank you’s. 

There’s been a mistake. This can’t be for me. I shall float away and keep looking down (no tears, no emotion yet.) But I look up and they are still there nodding their thank you’s in the most knowing way, as if we have known each other our whole lives and this moment was simply a confirmation.

There’s been no mistake. The necklace and the thank you’s were for me so I put it on and touched it repeatedly. Sharp and smooth and tiny enough to fit in my fingers. I pressed hard into it to pull me back into the yoga room there at Lumeria. But still no emotion because I didn’t trust my body was sitting there on that floor or that the floor wouldn’t cave in.

So many things we think are mistakes. So many mistakes we think are things.

When they’re not. They are hallucinations. They are non-existent. Or maybe they are just long gone. Over and done. Maybe they once were things, but they have longed since stopped being things and now are just that happened once or I turned left instead of right.

I turned left instead of right and there I was at Lumeria in Maui leading a retreat with a gorgeous group of women but if I’d turned right I would’ve been __________.

That’s right. Blank space. Who knows. So many blank spaces.

Look right there. There’s one. And there. Another.

Not mistakes. Not things. Just that happened. And then that happened.

It was hard leaving today because I was afraid to leave what we created.

Then, just like that, one of the girls said she had a letter to read. She had written a letter to the group which was moving and brave and lovely. She turned to me and said Jen, your dad would be so proud of you. And just like that: emotion. Magic. Just a few words and the idea of a man long dead in his physical body and bam! I am re-rooted back into the world as if I had always been there.

A double rainbow appeared after we finished our closing circle and we all ran out onto the lawn and pointed and snapped photos and cried a little because it was, again, like falling in love. What if we never see something this beautiful again? How can we make this stay?

I am afraid that was it for me. I am afraid that I will never have that again. I am afraid that. I am afraid of.

I am on the plane, where I do most of my writing, wondering if I turned right instead of left would I have even been to Maui? (Who knows but most likely, no.) Would I be on this plane sitting next to a sweet but loud nut-eating Russian couple? Could I ask the pilot to steer us back, and, if he agrees, would it be the same? Could I stay as safe as I felt this week with all my women during my retreat? (Probably not.)

I feel for my necklace and repeat So many things we think are mistakes. So many mistakes we think are really things and my necklace lays over my heart and doesn’t move or suggest it knows the difference so I decide to make a list. Mistakes and Things.

Mistakes:

~Dropping out of college with one year left after I had won an award for having highest GPA at my school within NYU (Oh, that’s a thing. Things and accolades and this and that which I think makes me me but in reality is just a thing signifying nothing.)

~Filing taxes for the wrong year.

~Saying yes when I meant no.

~Saying no when I meant yes.

~Saying nothing.

~Saying too much.

~Overpacking.

The rest I can’t write here because the Russians might read over my shoulder and that makes me nervous.

Things.

My necklace the girls gave me this morning.

The airplane I am sitting on.

The book in my lap.

The glasses on my face.

There are too many things in the world to list them all.

I feel for my necklace and think if it could grant me one wish it would be to hear perfectly. Then I think I would like to change that wish to I would like to be here perfectly.

If I am here perfectly I can see that dropping out of college wasn’t a mistake but it was my left turn and if I hadn’t turned left I would be _______.

And the filing taxes bit, eh. The IRS will figure that one out.

The rest, the yeses and no’s and the overpacking aren’t so much mistakes as they are ignoring my gut in the way I used to ignore my hunger. I hear you and I don’t care. 

It was hard leaving today because I am not yet perfectly here.

I worry. I send vessels and ships into an imaginary future stockpiled with fears and toilet paper and anxiety. I worry that I will never have this again. This being what I had there on that island. That it was a fluke. That there wasn’t a group of women who flew from all over the world connecting in the way everyone dreams of connecting or maybe there was but it was a blink and it will never be back as things we love sometimes choose to do.  I am happy. This is working out. You are alive. I love you.

Then Poof! Up in smoke. That’s what the things we love sometimes do as unfair and shitty as it seems (and as it is.) That’s what the life we love sometimes does. It just goes.

And yet and still, I am happy they gave me a necklace with such texture because I can press it into my thumb and have it bring me back on the same ship I sent off into the future with toilet paper and regret. The necklace can send me sailing back into my seat on an airplane with the smell of nuts in the air.

I keep looking at the letters everyone wrote me this morning. I had everyone write down the 5 most beautiful things they saw in each person so each woman left today with a pile of letters.

The one thing in every one of my letters, the common thread of beauty that all the ladies saw in me was, one word: Inspire.

I can’t go anywhere on this airplane. I can’t float away because I am already floating up here in the sky and I am trapped next to the Russians in my window seat so I must sit with that word. Inspire, inspire, inspire.

What does it mean? I ask my necklace like a crazy person.

I actually didn’t think I was crazy until the necklace answered back. It said it means keep speaking your truth and you don’t need a degree from NYU to inspire. 

Now, did the necklace say that? I don’t know. Maui is a sacred and magical place and they bought it there, so maybe it did? Maybe I need to suspend my disbelief for moments at a time so I can get over the I can’t believe they mean me. I can’t believe this will last. I can’t believe in my own happiness. I can’t believe this is my life.

Maybe I need to suspend my disbelief and let my necklace remind me of its heritage. How it traveled through the hands of some gorgeous women who love me as I love them. How it hung in a store and when it caught their eyes it spoke to them. (So they told me.) It literally spoke to us, Jen. 

Maybe my necklace isn’t a thing at all. Maybe it’s a reminder that happiness is possible for me and those I love fiercely. And maybe, when the necklace is gone, however necklaces go, the reminder will remain: That I deserve to be happy. That I don’t have to be afraid. That one day, some incredible women who I led through a life-changing journey, walked into a store in Wailea and wiped the sand of their feet so they could find something to thank me. A thing, something, they said knowing they would never find that thing, so they wrapped up their love in a purple stone on a gold chain and we all understood that it would never go up in smoke.

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Beating Fear with a Stick, Gratitude, Guest Posts, healing

Beating Fear With a Stick. Must Read of the Day.

January 24, 2013

With permission I am sharing this letter I just received. I will leave it anonymous. Please please reply in the comment section to this lovely person and let her know how NOT alone she is. How surrounded by love she is. How beautiful every single part of her is. Love you guys. Thank you for being a part of my Tribe. Thank you.

Hey Jennifer! 

 I don’t know if there really is truly a simple or even possible way to express the joy that I had in being in your Atlanta workshop. I will have to start with a simple…Thank You.

You asked how I found you and I think the real answer is…I ordered you into my life, as I am doing, but was not aware, I’ve always done, with all things in my life. I am building what I call, my own guidebook, navigating my soul, through this human experience, to continue to evolve. I’m asking for clear direction, not just change. I am “doing”, to try and get clear in my life, to find my calling,

“Why I am here? How should I serve? Why should I serve?” –my purpose. I don’t believe in the sort of atypical dictionary definition of coincidence: ‘A remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.’ I rather think that, the coincidences show up in our lives as whispers, as jolts to remind us of where we are in our thoughts. Maybe it’s best defined as, “What you think about, you bring about in form, as ordered by ones thoughts and intentions”. In my definition of coincidence, it makes sense to me as to why I found you. I am a lover and believer of quotes, that words matter, that the intention behind the word is even greater. I am thankful that Karen Salmonsohn followed me one day on my twitter account, and that I returned the follow by finding her on Facebook, and then seeing a posting she made one day on Facebook about you, that brought me to you, and to meeting you in your beautiful, transformative workshop on January 20, 2013 in Georgia. 

I was hesitant and scared to begin, really begin the practice of Yoga, to let my breath out, to learn how to breathe, maybe for the first time. I knew from my past experience of 9 months of school to become a certified Massage Therapist, that bodywork can break a person open. It did for me, when I was in massage school. I left broken…broken completely open and apart, a shell of myself. I ended up in the hospital after attempting suicide while in school. This is much easier to write then it would ever be to be able to share in person, and only the close people in my life know of this happening in my life. I guess I trust you, which is kinda of crazy because I barely know you, but somehow, I felt you…I felt you this past Sunday!

We did an exercise in the early part of our teaching while in massage school that I will never forget. We went around the room placing the palms of our hands against another persons hands, while standing looking into the eyes of the other person, and saying the words, “I see you”. It started slowly, we began with standing for just a few seconds in front of the other person and then, with each person we moved to, the time we spent holding palms to palms increased. The instructor would say, “ok, move to the next person”. As the seconds built between each meeting, my comfort level built. I didn’t feel a connection with most, but there was one girl that I felt an immediate connection with, almost a peace, an utter knowing of safety and only good intention from, and I felt this jolt and feeling that she could see right through me. It was the first time in my life I knew what I was feeling, and that is was okay, yet I was also completely aware of what that would mean to be around her… I couldn’t hide my “shit”, as you might say ;), if I’m around her. This ALWAYS scares me to the core, and makes me feel a push and pull from this type of person. I’m intrigued by their knowing; however, frightened by what it may conger up in me and bring out of me, that could leave me vulnerable, not able to function, feeling too vulnerable and confused, not feeling grounded, open to another breakdown, that I may not be able to handle and recover from. Typically I just end up never interacting with such an individual that I feel this connection with because, they feel invasive to me, too curious about me, and that just kind of just freaks me out.

At the end of class, when I approached you to thank you, I felt you could see right through me. Just like the girl from massage school. When I broke down crying, once again, I knew I had to get out of there. It was too much. I felt all the women looking at me thinking, “Wow, she’s a real mess! I might have cried in class myself although, I can tell her crying is coming for a much more confused, complicated place. I wouldn’t want to become friends with that one with a ten foot pole. “

I knew that taking your class meant I would cry. I knew that taking your class meant people would see me broken again. I knew if I didn’t want that to happen, I would have to resist showing emotion as much as possible, which may also make me seem less open, but I may have to appear this way in order to protect myself from a breakdown. But, then of course, in truth… I also knew, that’s just not me, to able to completely hold back emotion when I feel someone might be ok with me showing it. And, so… it happened. I felt disconnected from myself, scared and embarrassed that I cried and was not in control of my feelings, when I stood and read my thoughts in front of everyone and, when I met you at the end of class. I felt like a failure, because to me, it was not just me crying, it was me showing that I was having another mini breakdown.

Sometimes I exist as just one big olde emotion always trying to act like I’m not, while complete torture and anxiety exists within. I am very self deprecating. I know its what keeps people not wanting to be my friend, along with being too complicated. I know as soon as women see this in me, they run.

Believe it or not, even with all my sharing and rambling right now, I have been hesitant and scared to write to you. I feel you might be “change” and I’m frightened what “the change” could mean and bring for me, if I can handle it, if it’s right for me. I shared a little about your workshop with my bestie today, and she is the one that said I just need to write to you…to try and see what it may bring. 

I am always a seeker, but I have moments when I just want to hide, turn inside of myself and not interact with anyone, not be seen, because I don’t feel worthy of being seen or heard. I’m so in and out of this right now. I’ve been lost for most, if not all, of my whole life. Stuck!!!! Especially since the time of the suicide attempt in. My main mantra in my head goes as follows: “I’m too ugly! My face with all of my acne scars is sooooo ugly. I did this to myself! Why??? I picked and still pick. I created this mess. I can’t even look at myself in the mirror without gasping. What happened to me? I could have been beautiful. I’m not good enough! Why even try? I don’t know if I will be able to handle it, if what I am working on or was working on, takes off. I don’t know if anyone would ever like me or want me enough to really become a friend in my life, once they see all of me, other than the two real friends, not acquaintances, that I currently have. I am trying very hard, to make friends with women, but it’s been a struggle to turn acquaintances into friendships. I think they just see me as weird, confused, and too much trouble. I’m nothing, that’s why I should just let go.”

Then, there is the other side of me that says, “Hell no, don’t try and tell me who I am!!! If I want it, I can get it, but I have to know it’s what I really, really want in my life because, I will give it everything!!! Every part of me, my whole heart, all my energy, all my will. I always want to be the best at what I pursue, my OCD kicks in, and I seek perfection, which makes me vulnerable and open to become broken once again and, I don’t know if I will be able to, once again, pick myself up. Why am I so insecure? Why not me? Why do I see myself as always less than? Why do I feel I’m not worthy to be in any space that I am in? Why do I fear people? Why do I feel not worthy of being in any public place, as if everyone is looking at me saying, “Why are you here?” Fear, why so much fear?! How can I truly, for real….really understand and tackle this constant insecurity and fear, and know that I am ALWAYS enough, just as I am. Be comfortable with myself, love myself, and know because I am…I am worthy of all things.” I have had moments where I am lifted, where I feel loved, and know this and feel this for myself, and good things come in. I know it’s where I can be and need to be, it’s just hard to crawl out of the rabbit hole again, when it feels so familiar to just keep falling, since it’s what I know, where I feel protected…safe, yet completely unfulfilled and unhappy in this hole. The good thing is now, I’m trying to really hold on, to ask the right questions for myself, and find the answers that I am hoping will propel me forward, give me my life back, and help me to know and do my purpose. 

I’m not currently employed. I have a significant other of many years, who has been supportive of me, most of the time. In the times that he has not been supportive, he has every right to feel this way, my struggles are deep and profound, and they are way too much to ask of anyone to carry, or feel the need to carry and fix. We struggle a lot in our relationship together, and as of late, we are now coming to a crossroad, and things are clear that we are going to need to break-up, or change most ways we interact with one another & the directions in our lives, if we want to stay together. I feel like I’m barely functioning, once again in my life. I worked soooooooo hard to get out of this place, and now I’m fighting, to not completely sink in again, into the hole. There it is, my truth. I am doing and looking for answers, and your workshop definitely sparked more questions for me to ask and seek answers to for myself. Thank you again!! I felt privileged to be able to attend your workshop and be in the presence of like minded people, and to be able to meet the woman that inspires me with each and every word she writes. You have a gift!!! Don’t ever stop sharing! My wish for you…that you also take time for you. I know how draining it is to help and want to help so many. You deserve your time to refuel, to recenter, and connect to you, without the noise of what is swirling around you. I hope you have placed this time for yourself in your journey. You deserve every millisecond of it!! 

LOVE to you!!!

you-are-not-alone

Inspiration, loss, love, my book

You Came to Ride The Train.

January 3, 2013

These vehicles vast like the hollows of a secret stuffed in a wooden leg ignite in me something. I can’t name it yet. But I’m on the train, I’m moving. Just because I can’t name it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exists. Beauty I’d like to call it but that seems simple.

The saddest family I have ever seen sits across from me. A man, Pakistani or Indian maybe, with each of his children on either side of him, an arm around the boy and an arm around the girl. He leans over and kisses the little girl’s braided head. She is tall and leggy, maybe ten, maybe twelve, hard to tell, she is so long. The boy is older. They both have downcast eyes. I make up a story. Their mother has just died. I want to fix it. I offer chocolate. It’s all I have. The girl looks up and smiles, and then they all smile, and with a semi-Birtish accent the father says she doesn’t take chocolates. I joke and say Good thing, you shouldn’t take candy from strangers anyway. Plus, I think to myself how the chocolate has brandy in the middle and what was I doing trying to get some kids drunk on the tube in London, anyway?

But I’d wanted to do something. What happened? Why were they so huddled and sad? my mind asked and searched and dug at their broken faces. The heaviness lifted when the father leaned over to kiss the girl’s head, and also when I offered my paltry alcohol filled chocolate. A spark of life flew into the girl’s eyes and the darkness faded for a moment. Not the kind of darkness you would associate with evil or even depression but rather the kind of darkness that comes from riding the train all night without your mother. The cheap black plastic comb sticking out of the backpack that used to belong to her no longer has meaning. It can be anybody’s comb. Get that comb out of here. I hate that comb. Where is my mummy’s comb? all vacillating at once in her face like they were all true statements and questions. (They were. They are.) The kind of darkness that comes with the realization that there is no point in your father carrying around that comb in his backpack except to feel like your mother might sweep down and grab it, and you could all see her one last time, even if it is one second, that would be enough, even one half of one second, while she grabbed the comb and vanishes one last time. So he keeps it sticking out of the backpack front pocket for everyone on the train to see and when no one is looking he picks it up and carefully wipes it down. There is even a darkness in the movements of his eyes, his hands, the comb itself even, the kind of darkness that says You can keep riding the train as long as you want my beloveds, I am never coming back. 

Or maybe it wasn’t that at all. Maybe something entirely different happened. They all looked up though, when I got off the tube at Putney Bridge, and they all waved. I had wanted to stay with them and make it better. Whatever it was. There was a grief so stinking it almost knocked me out when I sat down across from them. I recognized it immediately. I’d known it before. I’d had that thickness of the throat, the turning of the stomach, the looking down for so long at a dead person’s comb that I forgot where I was going. The staying at the waitressing job for 13 years because I was scared to move in a any direction. The riding of the train all night. The clinging to someone, anyone really, so I felt like I hadn’t disappeared into the ether like people were capable of doing.  So what do you call that? 

That which tugs at your coat and scarf and all your winter England layers and says: Look at me. What do you know of this?

I know you, you say with your chocolate offering and whatever gesture you can muster, and for the brief moment before you get off the train, their world is safe. One stop and their world is un-cracked and whole. One stop. One milli-second. One half a second. Until  longer periods of time lapse and they are able to look up and get off the train for stretches of time they can’t even imagine at this point. Not during this dark hour.

What do you call this? Beauty? Humanity? Connection? Knowing?

Inspiration maybe?

Who knows.

What it was on that train exactly, I do know know. But I do know the pits of Hell when I pass through. And I can’t stay. But I can offer a chocolate truffle. I won’t stay. I refuse. Sorry. I may have to go there again in my own world (most of us do) but for this stint, I am not staying. I am just passing through.

I will offer what I can.

Today at the British Museum, my husband and I went and looked at some of the ancient Egyptian antiquities. There was this skeleton. I crouched down onto the floor and got up close, I mean really, really close, so I could see his eyes. His teeth (he actually still had teeth) and his fingers all curled up like he hadn’t been relaxed at all when he died there on the sand. The plaque said that it was the sand that had preserved him and that once tombs came along, bodies stopped being preserved in this way. The man looked so sad. He was in a glass display, curled up their on the floor and however many thousands of years later, he still looked so desperately sad. I crouched down and thought if I could only offer him chocolate he might get up and walk on out of that horrible box. His one hand up around his face like he was protecting himself and his other hand was curled up by his side. His whole body in a fetal position. Man, I get you, I wanted to tell him.

I’ve been there, curled up like that, in my darkest hour. I’ve been a ghost.

But I returned. To the land of the living. Here I am now. Look at me, I whispered, or wanted to, through the glass.

I didn’t get stuck in the sand or put in a box on display or have my pain frozen on my face for the rest of time like you did. And I’m sorry for that. Whatever your pain was. 

I guess that is what it boils down to. Call it what you will. Connection, inspiration, beauty, grace. It’s feeling what others feel as if you are one beating heart without getting your own me me me in the way. It is knowing something at the core of your being and being moved by that without having it define you or immobilize you. It is saying I understand you, Family On The Train. I get you, Dead Egyptian Man.

Maybe it is just called Understanding.

That’s all we ever want most of the time, isn’t it. Understand me.

Please?

Search trains and faces and coffee shops and your house and the blue sky and the grey sky and poems and people with their selfish hearts and their big What can I do for you hearts and whatever it is that you decide to call it, this thing which I cannot truly name, tell yourself that to become a part of it all, this beating mess, is what you must do. That to go out and touch the sleeve and the comb and the heart of another is what you came here for. You didn’t come for the pie. You came for the gut wrenching love and loss and joy and pain and when you see it in another, you get it. You recognize it.

You came to ride the train.

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Free Stuff, Inspiration, Yoga, Yoga Classes

The Time to Be Holy is Now.

December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve morning. I taught my last yoga class this morning before I head off to London.

Class this morning was holy. It was sacred and I don’t care if you are religious or not, it was a moment in time where connection was possible, and not only possible, but rampant.

Where love was there in the room and no one questioned its presence, no one doubted it’s intention or wondered Will you stay?

The class moved like we’d rehearsed (we hadn’t.)

That’s what happens when you allow things to flow, you find yourself all of a sudden in synch with your own life. You find that everything is easy and it may not always be easy but right now in this moment, it is easy. And that feels holy and right.

The class this morning was quiet and powerful and full of laughter and I thought what a gift, what a gift, over and over as I led them through the postures. What a gift I get to meet these people on this day. On any day! What are the odds that with all the billions of people we get to meet? To move together? What are the odds? Now, that’s holy.

I asked the room: “How many of you have had moments of insurmountable joy this past year?”

Many raised their hands.

And then, “How many of you have had unspeakable heartbreak and/or loss in 2012?”

Many raised their hands.

“You see” I said “They always go hand in hand.”

There was a 50/50 spilt right down the center. Perhaps it veered more towards the joy. Perhaps it veered more towards the pain. Either way.

How holy that we meet on this day. That we meet at all. That we connect. That we can say I stood here. I prayed here.

That we can say I was here at all.

What a gift that I was able to be part of that class this morning.

 The time is now.

Move forward from where you are. Take with you the little bits of happiness and the shards of hurt too, if you want, if you want to remember all of it, but move forward, because the time is now.

The time is now to turn inward and see what I see. (You won’t see it exactly the way I see it. That’s okay. It’s not really meant for you that way. Your beauty is for you to give away) but what I am saying is that you must know it’s there.

You must trust its there. You must put on your coat and walk into the light or into the snow or into the house with the fireplace and a glass of wine waiting there and you must know that the time is now to leave the darkness behind.

It ebbs and flows. You can count on that. There might be moments or years where you feel the darkness descending and, when that happens, remember what it felt like to be connected. To be light. To be holy. Or call me. I will remind you. (I hope you extend the same for me because Lord knows, I ebb and flow the hell out of life.)

Remember being in synch. What that felt like. Remember what it felt like to move in time with someone next to you, someone who maybe you’ve never met and will never meet again and if only for that brief moment who you moved with, like you were attached. Like you were connected.

It’s always there even when we forget that it is.

That is why I love yoga. That is why I will never ever stop teaching yoga even as I pair down my schedule and teach less.

The time is now to be holy.

Can you feel it? Can you hear it cracking, that shell around your heart? White as moon and made of the bones of your past? The bones may lay in a heap, and, if you let them, they will slowly rise and trail off for some dinner. They will leave you alone.

They won’t forget you nor you them, but they will soften the grip they have on you. Their fists opening, your heart fluttering away.

Now is the time.

Happy Holidays. I love you guys. Thank you. Stay connected. Stay open. Loosen your grip.

(Enjoy 10 free days of online yoga classes with me by using code jenp10 at YogisAnonymous.com)

Thanks Jenni Young as usual.

Thanks Jenni Young as usual.

Beating Fear with a Stick

Collective Voices.

August 22, 2012

Welcome to the Collective Voices Series. I will pose questions on my Facebook, Twitter and here on my blog, and then share the responses with you all. My hope is that when we start to see all of our voices together here like this, swimming with each other, we feel less alone. Less like we are out there on an island, alone and floating at sea. We will feel more human.

Today’s question is: What Are You Afraid Of? F*ck You Fear! is the theme of this week.

These are the voices so far of you all saying Fuck You Fear! There, I didn’t asterik it. I just said it, dammit!

Branden Canepa I am afraid of being forgotten. That was really hard to say, but liberating!

R.  I am afraid of being too fat and being too thin. I am afraid of being too kind and being too mean. I am afraid of staying married and being single again. I am afraid of being incredible and falling flat on my face. I am afraid of becoming my father and never living up to the memory of my mom.

Not so long ago, a dear friend of mine took me through an incredible energetic soul retrieval. In this experience, I shed layers of sorrow and disappointment and I felt a strong, overwhelming beam of pure energy into my solar plexus – so much that I was pinned to the floor while my entire being became tingly. And what did I feel during this rush? Joy over this connection with the infinite divine? Eh, a smidge. Elation at the imminent newborn potential clearly being established within me? Sure, kinda. But mostly, I felt fear. Fear that this amazing feeling would leave me soon and I’d be back to plain old me. And to this, I say: FUCK IT. Fuck fear.

Sonia: I’m afraid to not suck every last juicy drop out of my life by not living to my fullest potential!!

Cherry I have been hated many times over in my life but I still fear hatred. I have been hated for being a woman, a dyke, smart, strong, and for things I have done or not done. I have hated myself. I most fear hatred and daily I build a force field of love against it. I let that hatred roll off. It isn’t mine. It cannot hurt me unless I decide to let it.

M.B. My fear, the one I’ve been fighting since I was bullied in 5th grade, is of being a strong, smart woman. I fight with my damn fear always. Most days I’m stronger than my fear and I win, but then, the pain of being ostracized, picked on, name called, and dehumanized and the years of behavior that were affected by that series of events come rolling back. And then I’m 12. And I have no friends. And I like being smart, but I don’t like being alone. And I cry. I cry everyday. So I have to hug my 12 year old self hard. Really, really hard. And I have to lift my face and my heart to the light and call my fear an ugly mean bastard. And I have to forgive myself all over again. And I tell myself out loud, while looking in the mirror: you are winning. And I say goodbye to my fear, but I know it never goes away. Not really.

Laura Mohr Badger I’m afraid of roller coasters. They terrify me! So, I guess I was afraid of living, of going through danger. Now, I ride one every day in a figurative sense. Just hang on and take it day to day. You can be afraid, just don’t STAY afraid.

Grissell Carron Understanding what “Fear” really is, was not easy. I never thought there was fear in my being until I started practicing Yoga. Through out my practice as a beginner, since I only started 5-4 months ago, I connected with my Spiritual Self and I learned much more about who I really am. »: )

I discovered how many of my choices in life were very safe because I was afraid to fail or to lose.

I was afraid to realize the reasons I couldnt let go of small details that in the large scheme of my life have held me for years… Then I realized for years I thought I was living the life I wanted but in reality I wasnt living to my full potential. I was only living with my choices not fully aware of why I wasnt happy, even though I had a great life. Mr. EGO had much to do with this.

 

Today I am learning to identify my struggles, my ego, my patterns. I know now there are no fairy tales, and that happiness is possible as long as I pay attention to make intelligent choices and open my heart to Love.

I fear not to be strong enough to follow this journey. I fear to not follow through in my weakest moments…but these are the moments when I go deepest into Yoga, it is what keeps me aware of my truth. ♥

Jennifer Nelson I’m afraid of failure and success, hate and love, pain and ecstasy, sadness and joy, loneliness and intimacy, ugliness and beauty, dis-ease and wellness. This is the dichotomy of the human spirit. We are all afraid, and the more we try to…

Jean Slattery I’m afraid I will never finish writing the book I started long ago- that the fear that I’m not a good enough writer or of what people would think of it will continue to keep me from putting pen to paper. I’m afraid I will keep putting road blocks up to distract me from the one thing I’ve always wanted to do-write!

Lindsey Bewick That ill never truly be happy. That no matter how hard I try it will never be enough. That I will never see life through the eyes of the person I was before anxiety and depression took hold. That the child with the intense curiosity and potential who did whatever she put her mind to and never knew any walls will forever be stuck in a pit just barely peering put at all the world has to offer. That is the fear I live with every day. And I despise it.

Jessica Trowbridge I’m afraid that I won’t be the best mom I can be for my kids. I’m afraid that they’ll look back when they’re older and hate me for some reason, something I could have done better. If a friend said this to me, I’d tell her that, even if she does mess up, they’ll forgive her and realize that she in only human. I was able to do that for my mother….but for some reason I can’t let go of these fears within my own mind.

Allison Paige Fussell I fear going through yoga teacher training all to find out that I ultimately prefer being a student than a teacher. My inner “glass half full” voice says, “What’s the down side? Are you really losing anything? If anything, you’ll intensify your practice! Just fucking do it!” My inner “glass half empty” voice says, “You’ll spend all this time and money to be back where you started. Don’t do it. In face, don’t do anything. Stay here with me where it’s safe.” I think we all know which voice is being honest with me — I love my “glass half full” voice! Still, I just can’t seem to commit.

Sara Schaffer the fucking fear of failing, fucking fear of worthlessness, fucking fear of being ugly, fucking fear of being fat, fucking fear of being disliked….FUCK 

Respect The Rays I fucking HATE fear…it’s such an obstacle, an enemy, a hater…and I do think outing our fears HAS TO help in some way. So, here are mine just for today… I feared going to my doc appointment this morning, I fear getting the results back from the doc, I fear not being smart enough, good enough, I fear never getting back to yoga, I fear having 2 kids in high school, I fear time’s speed, I fear getting back to routine, I fear my fears…I basically fear all things out of my control.

Nikki Murray: My biggest effing fear is dying of cancer and Leaving my daughter behind. So FUCK cancer.

Daniela Sabrina Taberné Death

By being vulnerable we connect. Isn’t connection what it’s all about?

Inspiration

Never Underestimate.

August 7, 2012

Never underestimate the power of connection is what I was going to write but I left it as simply Never Underestimate. As I was typing the words I realized that I often underestimate myself, not just the power of connection or the ability of a good cup of coffee or a belly laugh to steer my day in the right direction. I underestimate myself in ways big and small.

How many times do I take for granted the effect I am having in the world? How many times do you? How many times a day do I feel redundant or small? I am not sure the exact count but I will say that it’s not always easy to acknowledge ourselves, that sometimes it feels like we are jumping out of a plane. Hell, it feels like we are being pushed out of the plane.

What I am saying is this: how often do you stop and say Holy Shit, my words are having an impact on someone? Who I am being in the world is directly affecting someone else’s life as well as my own? 

Now, you may not curse as much as I do. I hope you don’t because I am like a dirty sailor but curse words or not, get clear on the fact that who you are being today, right now, in this very moment is NOT IRRELEVANT.

The power of connection.

Most of you know that my nickname is the Connector. Since I was a kid.

I now use social media to connect in a way I wasn’t able to do before. And yes, I was underestimating how far and wide that connection was reaching.

This morning i woke up to a tweet from a sweet girl @WriterYoga2 aka Chelle.

She had written me a poem. She had written me a poem?!!

To say I am blown away and humbled would be an understatement.

Here it is:

Dreaming In Paris: Poem To and Inspired by Jennifer Pastiloff

I’m sitting at a mustard linen table in Paris.

Someone speaks.

I barely hear a whisper.

Today is not the day to care about what I can’t or don’t.

I’ve practiced among fellow life lovers.

Those who fearfully dance to music only to release worry through

Flailing arms, shaking hands, pointed feet and hair leaping without care.

How perfectly imperfect the dancing was that manifested such joy.

 

This day is to be in wonder of small things usually unnoticed.

Making life feel larger than sighing stars about to die in another solar system.

The soft air in morning that makes me laugh

Like it was raining feathers from heavens bedspreads

When tossed by dawn’s prayers.

 

My wine tastes like this flower unfolding on the table.

Bold. As it buds orange petals sweetly to summer air.

Leaning back in my metal chair I feel the universes “Om” underneath my skin.

I spread my arms not to miss greatness causing goosebumps under sundrenched flesh.

 

The waiter asks with bored lips, “Are you alright?”

I gaze at him wondering how he doesn’t taste the strawberry sugared breeze

Where children with innocent pink lollipop fingers have unleashed a thousand hopeful dreams.

 

I laughed and said, “Of course! I am happy. Why wouldn’t I be? Now pour me another glass of wine.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Last line are words by Jennifer Pastiloff herself. I read that line and went, “Got to write about it!” Jen, you’re really inspiring, sweet and I appreciate how open and honest you are in sharing your experiences with us! You are only yourself and I Love that so much. I hope all enjoyed.

Until next time my friends, Namaste,

~Chelle aka Writer Yogi

Thank you Chelle for the gorgeous poem. I am so touched. Keep doing what you are doing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Remember this, what I am about to say to you right now.

You never know who you are affecting.

You never know how you are affecting them.

So just know.

Just know it somewhere deep in the knowing part of you and keep being exactly who you are and keep being better at it every day.

Love, jen xox

Beating Fear with a Stick, courage, Eating Disorders/Healing

Why I Do What I Do.

August 5, 2012

I have been writing an awful lot lately about my battle with anorexia and depression.

I got this email today and it came as a gentle nudge from the Universe saying Keep going Jen, keep doing what you are doing. 

Hi Jennifer,

This is Allie, one of your yoga students at Equinox South Bay. Thank you so much for allowing me to approach you this morning with questions about your recovery with an eating disorder.

My struggles with anorexia and bulimia began when I was 15 years old.

I am now 25 and consider myself about 85% recovered. I’ve actively been working in recovery for years and I am so proud of all the progress I have made, but I am not going to settle for living a life only 85% recovered from an eating disorder. I can go about life like this and be okay, but I want more. And I know that I am capable of being more.

As Dr. Wayne Dyer says, ” Do you want to be ordinary or do you want to be extraordinary”? We are all extraordinary and deserve to realize this and live life as extraordinary beings.

I don’t believe I am the eating disorder, nor will I ever allow the eating disorder to define me as I once did. I believe that I used the eating disorder as my disguise. Growing up in the persian culture, I found it extremely difficult to develop a sense of identity because of limiting cultural expectations of what a woman should be, act, etc. Thus, growing up I identified myself with an eating disorder, with an obsession with thinness because being thin and beautiful was what was idealized. It became the only thing I thought I was worth… Beauty as defined by thinness.

Now I have the power to be me, to embrace my inner perfection and uniqueness. Sounds like an amazing realization, but it’s actually very scary.

What if I don’t like myself? What if I’m not strong enough to manifest my true calling? The eating disorder responds with “well if you keep me around, if you suck at everything else at least you will still be thin and beautiful. At least you won’t be a failure and fat.” Isn’t that disgusting?

As I am sure you know, living with an eating disorder is very limiting and disempowering. I admire you so much because you have overcome this. You are a walking example of what I have always envisioned full recovery to look like for myself. You fully believe in yourself. You are spiritually so strong. You seem as though you fully embrace who you are and enjoy such a rich life. You found the courage to replace trust in an eating disorder with self-trust. You trusted in yourself that you have what it takes to manifest your darma and to live a life fulfilled- a life full of passion, joy, and happiness. This is so inspiring to me.

 

I really appreciate your willingness to meet with me next week to share about your recovery. Does next Tuesday after class still work for you? I find you so inspiring and I can’t wait to hear more about your journey of healing 🙂

 

Thank you again,

 

Allie 🙂

 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
Hi there lovely,

It’s S. I am sending my request out into the Universe (the “I want to go on Jennifer’s Maui Retreat request!”) and hoping it is meant to be. I am registering for the 2013 Winter YogaWorks teacher training, however the dates have not been firmly set (they suspect January or February – I am crossing my fingers for late Feb).

 

Again, I’m glad to have met a friend and inspirational soul such as yourself. In my junior and senior years of college I began to write about my battle with anorexia, for the first time, and I received mixed reactions. So many people are confused and simply can’t wrap their minds around the disease and just say things like, “Well…why didn’t you just eat?” Some remarks are cruel, some are simply perplexed, and some are heartwarmingly, overwhelmingly amazing (as you well know, I’m sure). I feel it is a calling of mine to write about this. To communicate to society that eating disorders HAPPEN. They’re nothing to be embarrassed about. They’re diseases. We can at least provide preventative treatment as a society. I could go on and on. I just want to thank you for the support and for being the brave voice that you are, because your MindBodyGreen piece is what led me to you. And you have had a profound impact on me thus far.

 

Sending you light and love, sweet one, be well!

S.

~~~~~

 
Hi Jen,We spoke briefly after your class at Marina del Rey last week. I take your classes at all of the different Equinoxes around town. I wanted to thank you so much for your writing and teaching. I’m currently struggling with an eating disorder and reading your posts and hearing you talk about your struggle and how far you’ve come has really helped me to see that there is a light at the end.

Thank you again for all that you do!!!

Love, O.

~~~~~~

With permission I am sharing these below so you understand how very important and powerful it is to follow what you feel to be your calling, your purpose. Your work.

Let that work be your love.

Let that love carry through your days even when you are feeling small or unsure or like you have a devil on your back.

Let it be.