Browsing Tag

every mother counts

Guest Posts, No Bullshit Motherhood, parenting

Attachment Parenting

November 10, 2016

*An amazing picture Jesse drew of his family, putting them in two pairs.

By Kendra Lubalin

Sadie is wrapped around my leg, her surprisingly strong thighs and arms tightly squeezing her body to mine, attached.  She says “I don’t know why I ever stopped nursing!  If I hadn’t I could still suck on your boobs every day!”  She is six years old, but her face is pressed to my calf so tightly, her yearning voice so authentically in pain, that I can’t laugh.

She wants to be so close that she doesn’t know how to get there.  It’s an impossible amount of closeness to achieve.  She wants my membranes to be permeable so she can swim inside me, she wants to pass though me like a ghost, but solid and warm – blood mixing with blood, breath with breath, heartbeat with heartbeat.  If she could crawl back inside the womb I’m still not sure she could satiate the desire she has to own me, to make me hers.  She whispers to me that she will put a window into my stomach, so she can live in there and still see her friends.

Straddling my lap she grabs my face in her hands and goes eye to eye, foreheads touching.

“You are mine.  Only mine.” Continue Reading…

5 Most Beautiful Things, Guest Posts, Jen Pastiloff, Jen's Musings

Douchey.

May 20, 2015

By Jen Pastiloff.

Confession: I miss my blog. I love that I have been able to turn this site into an online magazine. I really do. But I’m gonna sneak my stuff in now and again. This started as my blog but when I realized I had a big “following” << That sounds so douchey, sorry, but when I realized I had a big following I decided I wanted to create a space for other writers. But I’ll be damned, I never write shit down. I don’t take notes or keep a journal (add that to the fact that I can’t type and I am truly not your “typical” writer.) Because of these failings of mine, as it were, I realize that I forget a lot and the way I sort of half-assedly remember is by blogging. I miss it. So hi. Here I am. (Also- is douchey an adjective?) It makes me feel like I think I am Moses when I speak of “my following.” But, you know what I mean. Social media and such.

Wait- hang on while I go part the red sea.

Kidding.

So, this is just a quick update. So much has been happening and if you follow me on social media, you know I don’t hold back. I post like every five minutes so you don’t miss much. But in case you did. This is for you.

I have to make this quick because I am almost done my proposal for my new book for teens, Girl Power: You Are Enough. Eeeeek! (But wait, don’t we all need this book? This reminder? I am enough. You are enough. I am enough. You are enough.) It’s like: tattoo that shit on your brain. How often do I forget this? Every time I can’t hear because of my hearing loss and I feel lost and stupid I slip into not feeling enough. My not feeling enoughness ate up years of my life. It really did.

I am so excited by this project that I haven’t been sleeping. Have you felt excited by something like that before? It’s been a while for me, I must confess. It feels good. It feels, I don’t know, like I am alive. Some days I feel like a walking dead person. So to feel alive feels real good. Real good. I met this girl, Amymarie Gaertner, and we immediately decided we are sisters. Albeit she is my much younger sister. She has MILLIONS (yes, you read right) millions of followers on Vine (what the fuck is Vine I ask?) and Youtube and Instagram. Anyway, she is an ambassador for my GirlPower. She is self-taught. She taught herself how to dance in her mom’s basement. She created this crazy life and is living her dreams because she wanted to dance. And she did.

Here she is again:

 

So that was amazing.

She is spontaneous as anything. Like me. We started walking down Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood and she goes, “Look! Yhat would be cool to dance right there in that stairwell.” We set up my little tripod and, with people all around, and one dude on a ladder painting a ceiling, we danced and laughed. One take. The song: One More Time by Daft Punk. I had to do a voiceover on Facebook because they kept deleting my video for copyright infringement. You can see it on my (or her) instagram though. Damn you, Facebook. Damn you! Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts, motherhood

Mother’s Day.

May 10, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88
By Leza Lowitz

The celebration brings up the immense gratitude I have for my mother, but it is also tinged with grief. For ten years I’ve longed to have a child, but haven’t been so blessed. Thankfully, my yoga practice has helped me look at this challenge as a kind of practice in itself–I have no other choice. My Japanese husband and I have applied to adopt, but our chances are slim. At 43, my age makes adoption even more difficult in a country where adoption is rare and bloodlines are almost feudal in their importance. I have to face it: my long road to motherhood might be at an end.

As the years have passed, I’ve had to ask myself questions many mothers never consider. Why do I want to be a mother anyway?  I meditate on the answer. I want to experience another kind of love, something beyond what I know or can even imagine. Mother love.

But I’m not there yet, not at all. All the effort, pain, and disappointment of infertlity has gotten too much to bear, and I haven’t been loving myself. So while we wait for a placement from the orphanage, which looks unlikely, my husband suggests I go on a pilgrimage to the motherland—India. If I can’t have a child, can I discover another way to experience motherhood?  If not, can I let go, and find contentment with life as it is?

Nothing to lose. So I pack my bags and head to India, hoping it will be the perfect place to heal and to find the mother within. Continue Reading…

Contests & Giveaways, Guest Posts, Manifestation Retreats, Retreats/Workshops

Free Spot At Jen Pastiloff’s Retreat in Honor of Every Mother Counts

May 3, 2015

Every-Mother-Counts-logo

logo
Flash 3 day contest on instagram! Don’t have an account? Sign up! It’s easy and fun!

Do you want to attend a my Manifestation Retreat over Mother’s Day in honor of  Every Mother Counts & global maternal health? (It’s next weekend so you have to act FAST!) Everything will be paid for including a spot at the cooking class but you must provide your own transportation to Ojai, California. Every Mother Counts is a non-profit organization started by Christy Turlington Burns dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother.

Unknown
Rules:
1⃣ Follow
@jenpastiloff @everymomcounts & @bloominglotusjewelry on Instagram.
2⃣ Post a picture
of you and your mom OR You and your child  on Instagram after you follow all 3 of us.

3⃣ Tag us ALL in comments & use #everymothercounts so we can see it!

4⃣ must follow us all & tag us all in comments section.

Info on retreat here at jenniferpastiloff.com.

You’ll also win a $108 gift certificate to Blooming Lotus Jewelry!!

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Manifestation Retreats, motherhood

Jen Pastiloff, Christy Turlington Burns & Every Mother Counts Give Back This Mother’s Day.

April 22, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88

Do good for yourself, while helping us improve maternal health. Join me over Mother’s Day weekend, May 8-10th, for a 3 day retreat in Ojai, CA, where a portion of proceeds will benefit Christy Turlington’s Every Mother Counts. Please mention the organization when booking. Click here to sign up or email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com.

Every Mother Counts is a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother.

They inform, engage, and mobilize new audiences to take actions and raise funds that support maternal health programs around the world.

To join in this retreat you do Not have to be a mother. Just be a human being with a heart. No yoga experience required although there will be some yoga within the workshops.

I am so excited to support my friend Christy and EMC!

Christy Turlington Burns is a mother, social entrepreneur, model, and founder of Every Mother Counts. Having endured a childbirth complication herself, Christy was compelled to direct and produce the documentary, No Woman, No Cry about maternal health challenges that impact the lives of millions of girls and women around the world. As a result of her global advocacy work she was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2014, Glamour Magazine’s Woman of The Year in 2013, and one of Fast Company’s Most Creative Minds in 2013. Prior to her work as a global maternal health advocate, Christy enjoyed a successful career as a model while continuing her education and pursuing other interests. She has co-created public health communications campaigns about smoking cessation and prevention since 1997 and launched an award-winning website, SmokingIsUgly.com. Christy is also the author of Living Yoga: Creating A Life Practice (Hyperion 2002) and has written countless articles, essays and op-eds for magazines and newspapers on the subjects of wellness, maternal health, feminism, poverty eradication and human rights. Christy is a member of the Harvard Medical School Global Health Council, an advisor to the Harvard School of Public Health Board of Dean’s Advisors and on the advisory Board of New York University’s Nursing School. She holds a BA from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Studies and has studied Public Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. A three-time marathon finisher, Christy resides in New York City where she lives with her husband, filmmaker Edward Burns, and their two children.

ps, Christy is running the London Marathon this coming weekend on 4/26 to raise funds and awareness about the fact that thousands of women and girls still live too far away from the care and supplies needed to ensure safe motherhood. You can check it out here. 

I love you , Christy!

11041083_10152945039615914_7301843518168117137_n

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

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

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Marriage, Relationships

10 Tips For Staying Married Forever.

September 30, 2014

By Jeanne Faulkner.

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black

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

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

 

My husband and I just celebrated our 32nd anniversary.

We got married way too young and the odds were probably stacked against us and yet, here we are so many years later and we’re still together. What’s the key to our longevity? We’re happy together, we like each other’s company and we’re still genuinely in love. That accounts for most of why we’ve been able to stick it out while other couples can’t. We have other keys though and here are ten of them: Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, motherhood, parenting

On Pregnancy.

May 26, 2014

By Evan Cooper.

Think back to a time when you were so nauseated that you could barely breathe. Perhaps you caught a stomach bug, became the unfortunate victim of food poisoning, or found yourself on a boat that lurched and swayed so severely that you begged to be back on solid ground. Now take that sensation of nausea and triple it, quadruple it, times it by ten.  But in this case, there is no medical antidote, no ridding the body of offending bacteria, and certainly no shore in sight.

This is how it feels to be pregnant and suffering from the rare, but merciless condition known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum.

About 75 percent of women who become pregnant experience what is classically labeled as “morning sickness,” a regretful period of time that, for many, lasts far beyond the morning hours and, often, around the clock. But a smaller percentage of pregnant women, around two percent to be exact, will suffer from nausea so intense that even a single sip of water becomes impossible to ingest and vomiting so violent, only a hospital stay can replenish the body’s lost vital nutrients. Ultimately, if left untreated, HG can be fatal for both mother and child.

When I became pregnant nearly seven years ago, I had visions of transforming into that ubiquitous vision of an ethereal earth mama; a radiant vessel of creative female energy; the embodiment of the yoga goddess Shakti herself. I had no idea that I was about to become sicker than I’d ever been in my life.  In my mind, pregnancy was to be a time of euphoria and grace, not illness and struggle. After all, I’d already been there, done that.

As a teenager, I had overcome a frightening episode of partial blindness with the potential diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis looming eerily over me for years to come.  In my efforts to heal, I discovered yoga and, after making a full recovery, went on to become a yoga instructor and wellness author aimed at helping tween and teen girls through the trials of adolescence and life in general. Through all of this, I became a devotee of the mind-body-spirit connection and grew to believe that through a combination of mental stamina, physical discipline, and spiritual faith, I could literally handle ANYTHING.

Then I became pregnant.  And rather than reveling in this glorious phase of my life, Hyperemesis literally brought me to my knees and made me beg for mercy before the porcelain god. It didn’t matter that I desperately wanted the life growing within me; there was no mantra, no yoga pose, no degree of faith or fortitude that could save me from the ever-increasing wrath of Hyperemesis Gravidarum on my body.  Only modern medicine could do that.

Now, every day, when I look at my feisty, energetic, beautiful, freshly minted six year old girl, Emerson Eden, I experience a rush of gratitude for the care I received that enabled me and my baby to survive the seemingly endless 36 1/2 weeks that was my first pregnancy.

But what of the thousands of women who do not have access to such medical support? According the World Health Organization, approximately 800 women day every single day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Imagine, if you can, being pregnant in sub-Saharan Africa or rural Haiti or one of the many other areas where women must suffer silently and who are unable to get the help they need. But it’s not just in these far away, foreign places where women are dying due to poor or non-existent maternal care; it’s right here, in the United States of America. Shockingly, the maternal morbidity rate in the US is around fifteen deaths per 100,000 births, meaning that each year in the U.S. alone, about 700 women die of pregnancy related complications. 

Statistics aside, the loss of a mother– any mother– is a tragedy beyond comprehension. Yet, more often than not, due to our busy lives and shielded hearts, an issue such as this, must touch us personally before we are motivated to incite change. My experience with HG (through one fruitful pregnancy and two subsequent lost ones) was like a wake up call, opening my eyes to the issues surrounding maternal health. Out of my physical and emotional anguish was born a deep driving desire to shed light on the need to raise funds, supplies, and support for pregnant women who so desperately need and deserve it.

In a culture where celebrity baby-bump watching has become a pop-cultural past time, and losing the “baby-weight” is a commonplace conversation, it might sound rather dramatic that I literally thank god that I survived pregnancy.  But I do.  And this is my story.

After doctors determined that I would require the help of IVF in order to conceive, I made an appointment with my OB for a routine examination and to begin the process of fertility treatments.  At that very same appointment, the nurse entered the exam room and quizzically announced that my routine pregnancy test had lit up positively.  My OB looked at me, smiled, and encouraged me not to get too excited.  “I’d love to see you prove science wrong, though!” he winked.

Well, I did. Blood tests concluded that I was most definitively pregnant and my husband and I were over the moon with excitement. Barely three weeks into my baby’s gestation, however, I began to suffer from the dreaded morning sickness that most women do.  But by a little over five weeks in, we knew what I was experiencing was much more intense than your every day reaction to rapidly increasing hormones.  I couldn’t eat and, more critically, I couldn’t drink.  I was trapped at the foot of the toilet, struggling to catch my breath between heaving up bile.  ER visits became frequent and by my third visit, and after quickly shrinking down to a mere 90 lbs. from a previously strong and athletic 110 lbs., I was officially admitted to the hospital. I literally could not stop retching.  It didn’t matter that there was nothing left in my stomach; my body reacted as if there was. In fact, my body reacted as if it were being attacked. And it was pure torture.  I remember pleading with my husband to help me, knowing full well, there was nothing he could do but sit there, helpless. I was so severely dehydrated that, even once rehydrated via IV, the flu-like feeling of nausea was simply beyond what my brain could handle.

A week into my hospital stay, as I lied with colorful bags of various electrolyte filled fluids dripping slowly into my veins, the doctors diagnosed me as stable and gave me the green light to go home. Though medically speaking, I was now out of the danger zone, physically, I writhed in misery. Home care was arranged and a “Zofran pump” – a device that functions much like an insulin pump, which attaches to your body through a tiny tube and delivers a constant stream of antiemetic medication around the clock–was delivered to my door. Fortunately, with a physician husband, I was spared the gruesome job of sticking myself with the needle and tube every three days to give each insertion point a rest. And while the Zofran kept me from actually vomiting, the nausea remained extreme.  Not to mention, the liquid medication that would drip into various parts of my thighs was so caustic, it left wide, red, swollen mounds at every infusion site.      

Although I was a weakened version of my former myself, I managed to get through the pregnancy without requiring a feeding tube or a PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter, which is more of a permanent IV line that terminates in a large vein near the heart) and eventually was able to gain back my weight and then some by my third trimester.  And on May 4, 2008, my incredible daughter came into this world.  She was a bit early and came with as much urgency as she had grown within me via frightening crash Cesarean section.  But she was here and, together with a team of support, we had made it.

Believe it or not, in the years following the birth of our daughter, I wanted to try for another baby. Whenever I’d suggest it, my husband would protest. “You just don’t remember how awful it was; you’ve clearly blocked it out.  Please don’t put yourself through that again!” he would beg.  But two times I did.  Sadly, I lost my subsequent pregnancies for reasons unrelated to HG, but not before suffering through a good several weeks of it each time.  And he was right: each time, I would forget how bad it was; I’d forget because all I wanted was to cradle that baby, a sibling for my daughter, in my arms. And while I know now that I cannot put myself or my family through any more pregnancies, I still long for a second baby. That’s how strong biology is; that’s the power of motherhood.

The sad truth is, like any ailment, Hyperemesis does not just wreak havoc on the body of it’s sufferer; it plays a nasty game with her heart and mind as well. For, only hours after I lost my subsequent pregnancies, I would be simultaneously freed from the brutal grasp of incapacitating nausea, and promptly imprisoned in a coop of unconscionable grief at the loss of my much longed for second child. I have spent years pondering, obsessing, reliving, and reviling those moments; moments wherein Hyperemesis truly robbed me of my sanity and, had I not had the necessary intervention, nearly my life.  I don’t think I’ll ever stop grieving for the babies I might have had, but perhaps, out of my sadness, others might be saved. 

While HG is no longer a common cause of maternal death around the world, pregnant women are still dying as a result of severe bleeding (often after giving birth), postnatal infections, high blood pressure, unsafe abortion, AIDS, malaria, and a host of other complications. In a day and age where we can successfully transplant hearts and send satellites to Mars, it is unfathomable that we would allow even a single woman to die during pregnancy or childbirth. But it is a stark and very real reality that must be addressed.

It is commonly said that our most creative acts are born out of our most extraordinary moments of suffering or grief; that it is our pain that leads us to enact positive change.  And this is surely the case for me. I’ve both celebrated and suffered through pregnancies, I’ve gloried and I’ve grieved.  I’ve learned the impossible lesson that, when it comes to bringing life into the world, so much is out of our control.  But we must take action where and when we can.  Somehow, we must ensure that every mother has the medical care she needs during pregnancy and after. Because, as the current champion of this cause, Christy Turlington, super-model turned women’s activist, so aptly named her brainchild organization, Every Mother Counts.

Me & Emerson

 

Evan Cooper is the author of a popular book for tween and teen girls: Um, Like…OM: A Girl Goddesses Guide to Yoga (Little, Brown), a blogger at www.spiritandsole.net where she ruminates on the experience of being a “spiritual girl in a material world”™, and momma to a spunky 6 year old dancer girl, Emerson Eden. After being deeply transformed by her personal experiences of pregnancy, Evan aspires to be of service to the cause of improving maternal health around the world. She is currently at work on her second book.

*

Jennifer Pastiloff, Beauty Hunter, is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Jen’s leading one of her signature retreats to Ojai, Calif. over New Years. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up: South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Kripalu Center For Yoga & Health, Tuscany. She is also leading a Writing + The Body Retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch Jan 30-Feb 1 in Ojai (2 spots left.)

Gratitude, Guest Posts, motherhood

In Gratitude for a Long Career. By Jeanne Faulkner.

April 2, 2014

Like Jennifer, I’ve worked for decades in the service industry. I worked as a nightshift labor and delivery nurse for ten years followed by another ten years on day shift. Like waitressing, you never know who your next customer, AKA patient, will be.  It’s a crap shoot and among the biggest challenges of the job. You take care of whomever you’re assigned to care for, whoever walks in the door and with whatever doctor or midwife is on duty for that patient.  Our job, whether we like our patient or not, is to serve, guide and shepherd them through their labors and births, but it’s not isolated to serving just the patient. Nurses also serve their family, friends and baby, their doctor or midwife, and the other nurses and staff members who are part of the maternity unit.

Over all those years and thousands of patients, I’m grateful most patients were lovely and I thank them for allowing me the honor of being at their births. I’m humbled at how accepting they were of receiving my care and mindful that the work we did together was intimate, difficult and sometimes life threatening.  I thank them for their trust.  I’m thankful to the mothers who reached for my hand, asked for my help, took my suggestions and eventually allowed me to rock their babies so they could get some much needed sleep. I’m grateful to the fathers who tended to their wives or girlfriends with such tenderness that they taught me how these mothers needed to be cared for.  Thank you to all the grandmothers-to-be who stroked brows, sang songs, rubbed backs, reassured and mothered their daughters through their labors. You taught me that mothering never ends and in fact it grows stronger as we help deliver the next generation.

Some patients, or more often their family members, were by any definition, horrible – violent, criminal, addicted, filthy and sometimes even obscene. To them I say, “Thank you for teaching me that all people deserve care, compassion and respect; that there’s always a point of connection and that no matter what their life was like in the past, almost all still love their children, even when they can’t care for them. Thank you to the patients who called me “bitch” and to those who called me “doctor.” Neither label was accurate but I thank them for making an attempt to reach me on whatever level they could.

Thank you to the patient who tried to bite me when I could not give her an epidural.  When a moment later, your daughter was born and you lay cooing at her in your arms, you taught me that pain is more powerful than civility, but when the pain is gone, humanity returns. Thank you to the man who threatened his wife and me with a beating we both “deserved,” if we didn’t hand over his son before police could arrest him for child abuse.  He taught me that despite his violence, hostility and demand for control, his love for his baby was overpowering and unreasonable, but it was still love.

Most of the dozens and dozens of doctors and midwives and nurses I worked with were among the best people I’ve ever met and many I count as my friends.  I thank them inspiring and motivating me, comforting and supporting me, for joking around and bringing snacks and sharing their stories through 12-hour nights. I thank them most of all for having my back and always being one call away when a birth turned into a crisis.  A few of my coworkers were bitter and angry, lazy and misguided and I thank them for teaching me that our work demands excellence, compassion and a higher standard.

Thank you to the mothers who faced their births with tears and screaming and the ones who managed each contraction in absolute silence.  Thank you for the “natural” mamas who rode their “surges” with intensity like a surfer rides waves. Thank you to the epidural mamas who decided pain wasn’t part of the package they signed on to deliver. Each one took control of her experience and took care of her own needs and I’m grateful to them for doing so.

Thank you to the little brothers and little sisters who were so excited and anxious to meet their new siblings they wet their pants, burst into tears and buried their sticky sweet faces in their fathers’ necks. They taught everyone in the room just how powerful this new relationship would be.  A sibling will witness your life, share your fun and misery, defend you, pretend with you and get you in trouble.  They’ll be there with you ‘til death do you part and in some small way, the little brothers and sisters understand how overwhelming this commitment will be.  Thank you to the new mothers who then handed their brand new baby over to me, took their older child into their bed and cuddled them until they felt secure again. Thank you for not doing what too many parents do – yell at their child for acting like a baby and tell them they’d better get over it because they’re not the baby anymore.

Thank you to all the patients who busted mythology wide open – to the room full of bikers all burly and gruff whose appearance and demeanor were aggressive and scary.  Thank you for sitting in a circle on the floor and passing the new baby from one bearded, tattooed, Harley-gristled man to the next, each delivering a small blessing and a stuffed animal for their beloved new baby.   Thank you to the stripper who was losing custody of her baby for taking out your nipple piercings and breastfeeding your daughter for the one night you two would have together. Thank you to her friends who surrounded her with love and swore to all that was holy to them that they’d get that baby back if it was the last thing they did.  Thank you for the patient who had no arms who held her baby to her breast with her legs as skillfully as any two-armed mama would do.

Thank you for the 20 years I spent at the bedside and for the million stories my patients provided me.  I learned a lot and will forever be grateful for that opportunity to serve.

Image

Jeanne Faulkner is a nurse, writer and maternal health advocate. She writes for fitpregnancy.com, Every Mother Counts and is co-author of The Complete Illustrated Birthing Companion. Learn more about her at JeanneFaulkner.com and check out her YouTube channel here.

***

Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer living on an airplane. She’s the founder of The Manifest-Station. She’s leading a weekend retreat in May to Ojai, Calif as well as 4 day retreat over Labor Day in Ojai, Calif. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing for all levels. She and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. Check out her site jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up is Costa Rica followed by Dallas, Seattle and London.

 

healing, Inspiration, Self Image

Shame.

November 26, 2013

Every Body Counts.

I was not quite seventeen years old so I had my learner’s permit but not my driver’s license yet. In New Jersey you have to be seventeen to drive. My mother, God bless her, let me take the Isuzu Trooper out to go pick up my new (read: only) boyfriend who lived a few miles away. He wasn’t my actual boyfriend yet. This was to be the first time we were hanging out. I was going to go pick him up in the Trooper and bring him back to our house on Madison Avenue in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Our house, at that time, was a revolving door.

My mother slept at her divorced boyfriend’s house every other weekend so I’d have these parties where we drank beer and did very dumb things and made very large messes.

My house was the cool house.

The cool house never locked its door. Literally, my mom never locked any of our doors, which sends chills down my spine now (and did then as well.) I was always getting up in the middle of the night to lock the front door, the back door, the basement door. So many doors.

Everyone knew you could just walk into the cool house without knocking.

I picked up my almost-boyfriend and we went up to my room.

We made our way onto my bed and started kissing. I was filled with adrenaline because I had driven (illegally) to go get him on the other side of Cherry Hill.

I was a racecar driver, I was a soccer mom, I was driving a convertible. I was all things. I was behind the wheel. I was running the show.

We crawled into my twin bed and started making out with the covers over our head and the lights out. At the time, my mother made curtains for people. She would wait to sew them until the night before, which is why she allowed me to go get the boy in the first place with only my learner’s permit. She was down in the basement, pins in her mouth, some weird criminal show on tv, a cold cup of tea next to the sewing machine and yards and yards of fabric with which she had to make a Roman shade with by 9 a.m. the following day. So my mom wasn’t a concern.

I was behind the wheel! I had a boy in my bed! I was running the show.

I took off my Champion sweatshirt. My heart was beating as his chest pressed into mine and I thought how life was funny.

How this boy I had gone to the yeshiva school with when I was five years old now lay next to (on top of me) under my glow in the dark stars. At the yeshiva school we’d learn Hebrew all morning and only after lunch could we speak English. I didn’t remember the boy from all those years back, it was the B.D.D. era (Before Dad Died) but still, how like life to do that. So many chance occurrences, so many lightning cracks of chance that had to be stared at in awe, because truthfully, how else can you explain ending up back in New Jersey after leaving P.D.D. era (Post Dad Died)? How can you explain being on that bed? Being behind that wheel? You just have to kind of look down, nipple to nipple, heart to heart, and go Wow.

He was on top of me. We both had our pants on. The excitement of our chests pressing was enough to sustain me.

This is a body. This is a body. This is a heart. This is a heart.

My own heart thumped loudly so it actually drowned out the thump of the feet stomping up the stairs. As they got to the top of the stairs my heart stopped beating. It was too late. I heard a gaggle of boys outside my door. The cool house! Never locked! Go right in!

The mafia of boys flicked the light on. At first,  and I will give this to them: they didn’t know anyone was in the bed with me. Once they jumped onto my bed however, they realized that it wasn’t just me in there, that there were two bodies in the twin bed.

They flung my down comforter to the floor. Before you judge too harshly please remember this scary, yet utterly true fact: they were 16 year old boys. My best guy friends, a group of rambunctious and horny teenage boys.

There I was.

My nipples were now known to the world. (Because at that time, the world was equivalent, if not less than, those boys standing there open mouthed.)

They. Saw. My. Boobs. 

I have never wanted to die as much as I did in that moment.

They. Saw. My. Boobs.

I vowed: I was never going to go back to school. I was going to move away. I would probably take the car. The Isuzu Trooper. I was going to hide. For the rest of my life I would hide. I would never talk to them again either.

Get out of here! I wailed.

Hysterical, I grabbed my now inside out sweatshirt and covered my chest. They laughed and patted my boyfriend on the back. The incident had sealed it for us. The humiliation bonded us. He’d become my “official” boyfriend in a breath, in a moment as fast as a light switch flicking on. (Although I am not sure how humiliated he actually was. He might have been sort of proud. My guy friends were the “popular” kids at school.)

There were ten of them. They had all seen me topless. This, for a sixteen year old virgin, is equivalent to death.

After they left, I swore I could never leave my house again. I could never show my face anywhere. I was too upset to drive so I made my mom drive my boyfriend home and put her curtain making on hold although I can’t remember because like most of our great personal tragedies, they get murky with time.

I sat in the murky water of my shame in the basement. I wanted to get as low in the earth as I possibly could and the basement was as close to that as I could get.

Naturally, I blamed it on my mother. Why can’t you ever lock the doors? This would have never happened if you locked our door and they didn’t think they could just walk on in!

I blamed it on myself. I blamed it on my luck. I blamed it on my dad. I blamed it on my breasts. (If they weren’t so big, this wouldn’t have been such a big deal, I lamented.)

That was it. I would never talk to any of those jerks again.

We’d had a plan to go to the Philadelphia Zoo that weekend and I told my mom that hell would have to freeze over if they thought I was going to look at zebras with them now.

I cried and said I could never go back to school.  That my life was over.

I don’t remember how I ended up making up with the boys. My one friend, who I am still friends with to this day, made me a mix tape to apologize. A mix tape. He put Morrissey on it and The Smiths and New Order and all the bands we listened to on our way to house parties.

He wrote PINKY on the side of the tape. Pinky, he laughed. Like your nipples.

I’ve been thinking about that story a lot lately and how ashamed I felt. How I thought I couldn’t go on. I wanted to curl up into a ball and die on the floor of the basement between the washing machine and the dirty laundry. I’d felt exposed.

Honestly, at 38 I am happy to show you my breasts. My husband wouldn’t be all that happy and I probably wouldn’t really do it, but, my point is, so what? After I have a baby I will look back and yearn for the boobs of now, of 38.

Recently I was on a boat in Italy with my Italian friend and some of his Italian friends. (I love Italians.) We were sailing along off the coast, near Sorrento, when my friend’s friend took off her bathing suit top. Her husband didn’t bat an eyelash. She smoked a cigarette and put on sunscreen and ate a buffalo mozzarella and tomato sandwich sans bikini top. She talked to my friend and her husband for three hours with her top off and no one noticed or cared.

(Well, I did. I noticed.)

I think back on the sixteen year old me and how I was mere months away from anorexia. From losing my breasts almost completely due to extreme weight loss. The incident on the stairs (I visualize those boys as elephants stomping up the stairs) happened before a piece of me broke off. The piece of me that ate food and allowed myself small pleasures.

The incident on the stairs was a precursor to that. Maybe it was the beginning of the breaking.

I suppose I always had self-hatred. It just wasn’t as fine-tuned as it was when I became anorexic months later. It was amorphous when I sixteen, floating around, looking for something to latch onto. Self-hatred floating around the room like dust particles, more noticeable in the light. Switch the light on, ah, there it is: self-loathing.

The actual moment it began to solidify from dust is one I can pinpoint clearly. I’d told a doctor that I wanted a breast reduction. He said, You’re crazy. You want smaller breasts? Lose 5 pounds.

Done. I lost 5 and ten 10 and then 20 and then 25.

I don’t think if I’d had smaller breasts that the incident on the stairs would have been any less mortifying. I wanted to imagine so as to give myself a way out in my imagination. An alternate ending like in those Choose Your Own Adventure books.

I choose this instead of that.

Shame is a wondrous thing. It can make us into 90 pound sexless things. It can make us into shadows of who we were, of that person who once was behind the wheel.

I wondered as I watched the topless Italian girl on the boat if when she was sixteen and herd of elephant boys walked in on her, would she have cried? Was she always so self assured? Had she always known that every body counts?

If the boys had come in and I’d had my sweatshirt on I would’ve been red-faced but that would’ve been it.

It was the beginning of my recognition of hate. I hate my body. I hate my body. I hate my body.And now here are ten of my closest guy friends shining a light on me, bare chested and all.

The revised scene would go like this: the door would be locked and they couldn’t get into my house. They’d get back into their cars and look for something else to do before making their midnight curfews.

Or: they’d come up the stairs and walk in on me and I’d think How awkward this is. How utterly awkward but here I am, sixteen years old, and perfect

And I’d take a snapshot in my mind because years later when I’d think about the roots of shame and body image and culture as I was on a boat in the Amalfi coast and some woman’s breasts swung in the wind, I’d wonder why, back then, at sixteenI didn’t realize what I was made of. Why I didn’t realize that every body counts. That I wasn’t irrelevant and a bad person? That I wasn’t a monster? I’d realize these things.

I’d take that old snapshot out from the back of my mind and dust it off a little before peering closer. You were beautiful. You were behind the wheel I’d say to the photograph, before putting it back with a few others I’d saved.

Shame is a fleeting. It will latch on to different things as needed.

I did, in fact, go to the zoo with those boys. Not two days later, we were eating soft pretzels at the Philadelphia Zoo together and that incident on the stairs had been filed away in the back of my shame-mind.

How many things have been filed under Shame that could have been filed under This is What Young People Do, It’s Not As Bad as You Think, You Have Nothing To Be Ashamed of, You Are Beautiful.

How many things we misfile.

 

Originally appeared on Christy Turlington’s Every Mother Counts.

1381178_10151821577365914_1624957158_n

Jennifer Pastiloff was recently featured on Good Morning America and New York Magazine. She is a writer, yoga teacher and advocate for children with special needs based in L.A. She is also the creator of Manifestation Yoga®. Jennifer is currently writing a book and has a popular blog called The Manifest-Station. Find her on Facebook and Twitter and take one of her yoga classes online at Yogis AnonymousJen will be leading Manifestation Writing/Yoga retreat at Kripalu Center in Massachusetts in February 2014 as well as retreats in both Costa Rica and Tuscany in 2014. She travels around the country leading her signature Manifestation Workshops.

Trust, Video

My Most Personal Vlog. The One on Trust.

October 6, 2013

Hello from Lenox, Mass. This video is deeply personal and deals with the theme of trust. Here is the video I mentioned in the above with video Christy Turlington Burns and Every Mother Counts
Love you, my beloved Tribe xo www.jenniferpastiloff.com. Share this video if inspired to, as always.

 

Jennifer Pastiloff, Beauty Hunter, is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up: South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Kripalu Center For Yoga & Health, Tuscany. She is also leading a Writing + The Body Retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch Jan 30-Feb 1 in Ojai (sold out) as well as Other Voices Querétaro with Gina Frangello, Emily Rapp, Stacy Berlein, and Rob Roberge. She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.

Guest Posts, Inspiration, Q & A Series

Guest Post by Christy Turlington. The Manifestation Q&A Series.

December 22, 2011

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

Today’s guest is Christy Turlington, my fellow Positively Positive contributor. What blows me away the most about Christy is not her external beauty, as you would assume. That’s a given. It is her mind-blowing internal beauty that humbles me and makes me want to be a better person.
Christy directing “No Woman, No Cry”

She has grace and kindness like no one else I know.

Her dedication to seva, to giving back, and to her family, continues to inspire me on a daily basis. I wanted to share her with you not just because she is a yogi, but because of the incredible work she is doing. She has created a foundation called Every Mother Counts. EMC is a five-year outreach campaign she founded in 2010 that is dedicated to improving maternal health and reducing maternal mortality around the world by engaging the public, raising awareness and driving action.

Recently, Christy completed a documentary film titled “No Woman, No Cry”. From her Every Mother Counts website she says, “I hope that by bringing people together through the universal experience of birth, we can help create a mainstream maternal health movement that ensures the lives and well-being of mothers worldwide, for generations to come.”

I surround myself with people who live a life I admire and who lead by example. Enter Christy Turlington.

She is a divine source of inspiration and love for me and I hope that you will perhaps get to know her in a new light as well as learning about Every Mother Counts.

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

Christy Turlington: My family.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What was the most challenging aspect of making your inspiring short film ” No Woman, No Cry?” The most inspiring? Where can we see the film?

Christy Turlington: “No Woman, No Cry” is a feature length film. I decided to make this film after visiting an inspiring maternal health partnership in Peru in 2007 where they brought down maternal death in half in five years using really low cost solutions in low resource settings. Oce I saw how they were able to do this, I knew it was possible to make a bigger impact in other parts of the world. My film is the result of a personal journey which started after I delivered my daughter Grace and experienced a childbirth related complication that often leads to death. The movie premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2010 and made its television debut on the Oprah Winfrey Network last Mother’s Day. It is now available on dvd too, as of last week, on everymothercounts.org.

Jennifer Pastiloff: I am fascinated by your commitment to maternal health. How was Every Mother Counts manifested into being? What was it that said to you ” This is what I must do. This is my calling.” How was EMC born?

Christy Turlington: As we were finalizing the documentary it became clear that we needed a place to direct audiences who felt inspired to want to engage on this issue. Every Mother Counts is a global advocacy and mobilization campaign to educate and support maternal mortality reduction. We wanted to build a community and provide resources to people who wanted to take action on behalf of moms around the world.

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

Christy Turlington: My children are my greatest teachers. I learn from them daily. My daughter often reminds me that I only HAVE to do something when I really WANT to.

Jennifer Pastiloff: We all know that you are a yogi. What I love most about you is that you are not simply ‘doing’ yoga on the mat but you are a LIVING example of what yoga is. Of seva, of giving back. You are Being yoga rather than doing yoga. I know that you truly live your yoga daily, but do you still practice yoga regularly on the mat?

Christy Turlington: I practice asanas a few times a week these days. But I practice seva every day.

Jennifer Pastiloff: My father died when I was 8 and he was 38. He smoked 4 packs of cigarettes a day. It devastated me. I was very moved by your passion to hep the cessation of smoking after your father’s death and by your obvious closeness to him. If he was sitting here with us now, what would say to him?

Christy Turlington: I lost my dad almost 15 years ago now. He never met my husband or my children so I’d probably start with an introduction. There is so much I’d want to share with my dad, though I do share everything with him always.

Jennifer Pastiloff: My nephew has a rare genetic disorder called Prader Willi Syndrome, which I am doing my very best to raise awareness and funds for research for. I know the more successful I get, the easier it will be for me to spread my message and to give back. I was able to get a sound bite about Prader Willi Syndrome in The Good Morning America segment I just filmed which thrilled me to no end (airing 12/26). It seems that you use your celebrity in such a profoundly positive way. You get messages out there that wouldn’t normally get out there. If there was one message you could convey to the world right now, what would it be?

Christy Turlington: The trouble is there are just so many issues and messages. The world is a very crowded place, figuratively AND literally. I wish there was a way for every cause to get equal attention but that doesn’t seem likely. All I know is that sharing an experience can be a powerful way to connect with other human beings and by practicing mindfulness and compassion we can make this world a place we’d choose to live in again.

Jennifer Pastiloff: I have a list of rules. A few of them are ” you must sing. out loud. even if badly.” ” do yoga.” ” have a sense of humor especially when it comes to yourself.” ” Forgive yourself for not being perfect, no such thing.” ” find things to be in awe of” What would one of Christy’s “rules” be?

Christy Turlington: 

Sleep deeply

Laugh deeply

Love deeply

Feel deeply

Give deeply

Jennifer Pastiloff: Who are you most inspired by?

Christy Turlington: I am endlessly inspired by all of the women I meet when I travel around the world for my advocacy work.

Jennifer Pastiloff: I make a practice out of being endlessly grateful. In fact, many of my yoga classes are taught to this theme. Who would you like to say thank you to right now?

Christy Turlington: Thank you, Jennifer for shining your light on mine.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What can we do to get involved with Every Mother Counts?

Christy Turlington: Visit everymothercounts.org and share it with your loved ones. If you have a voice you must use it because millions of girls and women around the world do not have that power. You and I do.

~~~~~~~~~~

Please support Every Mother Counts as they work to build a clinic for mothers in need in Indonesia this holiday season! Thanks to Mozilla Firefox and CrowdRise, they are entering a competition and If their charity raises the most, Mozilla Firefox will contribute $25,000!

http://www.crowdrise.com/emcchallenge/fundraiser/christyturlingtonburns

Just a month ago Christy was invited to travel to Indonesia to visit with an incredible midwife, Robin Lim. Robin had been nominated for a CNN Hero award and so CNN wanted to see her in action. Along with a small camera crew she was there a couple of days shadowing Robin, seeing her work and her very humane and loving approach to serving her community. At Robin’s Bumi Sehat clinics in Indonesia, one of the hardest hit countries in terms of maternal death, they provide free prenatal, birthing services and medical aid for all women.

Please feel free to share this and spread the love that Christy is. You can visit https://donationpay.org/everymothercounts/ to make a donation to Every Mother Counts.

Follow Christy on Twitter at  @cturlington @everymomcounts

You can get the amazing film “No Woman, No Cry” via Every Mother Counts. 

Thank you to Christy and mothers everywhere. I bow to you.

%d bloggers like this: