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Binders, Forgiveness, Guest Posts

Friending the Dead

July 22, 2015

By Suzanne Roberts

When the friend request comes in, the mind’s rolodex immediately places the name with the pinkish face, red hair, and tooth-gapped smile.  With a shaky hand, I click over and see it on his wall: RIP Kenny Williams. A cousin, or perhaps one of his children, saw we have mutual friends. Maybe my name came up in the drop-down menu under People You May Know because we went to the same junior high, listed the same hometown. Alive on Facebook, but dead.

There’s relief and something approaching happy. What’s wrong with me? It’s been more than 30 years since I’ve seen him.

***

The junior high classroom is arranged by last name, so Mr. Ballard, the ancient Life Sciences teacher, can remember who’s who.  R gets seated next to W. And we are required to share a worm, a frog, and a fetal pig with our partner during dissections. My partner, Kenny Williams, is far more interested in scrambling the frog’s guts, pulling out the fetal pig’s heart to mash between his fingers, and seeing if the giant worm will stick to my curly hair.

And that’s the best of it.

Between botched dissections, Kenny whispers, “I bet you don’t know what a blow job is?”

“Yes I do.”

“Do not.”

“Do too.”

“If you know what it is, will you give me one?” he asks.

“Sure. Why not?”

And with this, everyone in my seventh grade class will be told, by Kenny Williams himself, that I want to suck dick. That’s when I learn what a blow job is, though at first, I don’t believe anyone would put a penis into her mouth on purpose. I have yet to be kissed and have no idea that a blow job is in the repertoire of the possible.

By the middle of the year, Kenny passes me notes:

I know you want to fuck me.

Your tits are hard. Thinking about me?

Nice jeans. I can see your coozie.

We are eleven years old.

I gather the courage to ask Mr. Ballard if I can move seats, but he tells me that we don’t always get what we want in life, and my last name begins with R, so I am to sit at the back of the room. He can’t go around moving everyone who doesn’t like her dissection partner, now can he? I would have to learn to work with other children, no matter the differences. And besides, Kenny’s just teasing.

In fairness to Mr. Ballard, I don’t tell him that Kenny Williams said he wanted my coozie. But what if I told Mr. Ballard exactly what was happening to me? Would I have suffered the blame? Even today I think I might have. I didn’t have it in me at eleven to doubt the inviolable alphabetized seating chart, to see Mr. Ballard as the accomplice he was. How many teachers are ignoring it while children are being terrorized at the backs of classrooms?

I know that eleven-year old girl is not to blame. But there’s still that girl buried inside of me, something of her that feels like maybe it really was my fault. Because of my silence? Because of my confusion about my own burgeoning sexuality? Because though I found Kenny’s advances terrifying, I also felt something bordering excitement? Like getting sick on the Tilt-a-Whirl at the fair—a scary but thrilling nausea.

By the end of the year, Kenny not only passes me dirty notes, he snaps my bra (hard), snatches at my early-developing breasts, and reaches for the crotch of my purple Gloria Vanderbilt jeans, which fit tighter as the year wears on. And when he grows a hard-on, which is often, he grabs my hand and tries to put it on the lump of his OP corduroy shorts. He says You’re such a tease. Because of you my cock’s hard.

“I’m telling,” I try.

“I’m only teasing,” he says.

I am the first of my friends to get her period, wear a bra, and by the seventh grade, I already fill a C-cup. I believe Kenny Williams’s advances are my fault for developing early. I start wearing tops with frills along the front and long dresses, as if I am auditioning for a part on Little House on the Prairie. And at lunch every day I eat a chocolate shake, chocolate chip cookies, and French fries. I gain 20 pounds in a year, and my face blooms with acne. My breasts and my butt only get bigger. There’s no hiding, not even under a layer of pre-teen fat and prairie dresses.

I had been in the Popular Crowd since the fourth grade when I moved to the suburbs from Los Angeles. Being “in” is a benefit I enjoyed without thinking twice about the possibility that I could so easily be out. In the complicated politics of junior high school, you can go from Popular to Misfit overnight, and that’s exactly what happens to me. The popular girls are slender with clear complexions. They don’t wear glasses, and they have the right jelly shoes, the kind my mother says are too expensive, and to her credit, they are made of plastic.

I start getting crank calls from the girls who previously wanted me to wear the other half of their BFF necklaces, girls who passed me notes with hearts over every I and j. Now the notes read:

Fatty four-eyes. You are so fat. How do you fit through the door?

Slut. Everyone knows you want to suck Kenny Williams’s cock. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, healing, storytelling

People You May Know.

October 12, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black By Teri Carter.

I carry a myth. In the myth, I am 36 years old, and I meet my father at my mother’s funeral. Or, rather, at her wake. It is the designated family hour from three until four p.m., the one quiet span when only close family gathers to see the dead. The viewing, they call it. My mother in her casket, the casket she chose. And there is my father, a bearded stranger, pacing between rows of metal folding chairs, viewing her.

I actually met my father around my 18th birthday. His mother lived in my town, and though I’d had little to no contact with her over the years, she’d sent me a card with money in it for my high school graduation and, in lieu of writing her a thank you note, I called. She was thrilled, she said, to hear from me, and I remember feeling her warmth through the phone, the idea of her grandmotherly embrace, and somewhere during that call she asked if I’d like to come for a visit to look at some family photos and I asked where my father was and I said it rather boldly like, “Do you know where Lee Roy is these days?” feeling all grown up at age 18 and out of high school, and she said he was living right there in town, “right up the road!” and would I like to meet him, maybe next Sunday, at her house?

But what happened then? What of the details? Did he arrive first or did I? Did we shake hands, hug, stand back, study? Did we share a meal, a laugh, a Coca Cola? How can I not recall? How does a girl not remember meeting her father, not remember hearing his voice, for the very first time? And yet, the edges, they are so watery.

I met my father at my mother’s funeral. We shook hands. He pulled a business card from his wallet and wrote his number on the back in blue, ballpoint ink. He said, “Call us next time you’re in town,” and as he walked away I wondered, who is us?

Continue Reading…

Video

Are You Spending Too Much Time On Those That Don’t Appreciate You?

June 22, 2013

 

Are you living a congruent life? Who are you surrounding yourself with?
“Find Your Tribe.

You know, the ones that make you feel the most YOU. The ones that lift you up and help you remember who you really are. The ones that remind you that a blip in the road is just that, a blip, and not to mistake it for an earthquake, and even it were to be an earthquake, they’d be there with the Earthquake Emergency Supply Kit. They are the ones that, when you walk out of a room, they make you feel like a better person than when you walked in. They are the ones that, even if you don’t see them face to face as often as you’d like, you see them heart to heart. You know, that kind of tribe?”

She is not in my tribe.

Why do we spend time on the people who don’t like us?

Love to hear your thoughts on this, my beloved Tribe. Here is the essay about this via Positively Positive. Please read http://www.positivelypositive.com/2012/12/29/turning-an-insult-into-an-opportunity-for-love//…. Post thoughts and share the video xoxo love www.jenniferpastiloff.com xoox

Beating Fear with a Stick, my book

Fear of Flying

September 24, 2012

Here I am in the air, headed back to Los Angeles from Atlanta. Having internet in the sky is still a novel idea to me and one that makes me feel like a wizard wedged in between 22D and 22F.  I’m a word wizard up here, a magician in the clouds and yet I feel like I have nothing to say. Like I have said it all. Some days are like that. I am a vessel of ideas and words and firecrackers and other days, a body in a chair, a body in the car, a body going through the motions.

So I post on Facebook and say: I’m going to write a post from the plane. What Should  write about? And I acknowledge that I am distracting myself from writing my book. #Distractingmyselffromwritingmybook.

Someone tweets me that I should write about fear of flying and another procrastination.

Procrastination, well I wrote the book on that one, so surely I could write a blog about it. But, fear of flying? I am not scared of flying.

Not anymore.

Or so I thought.

I used to have heart palpations every time I was on a plane and there was turbulence. I thought for sure that my time was up, I was dying, this was it. Then, I started to fly more and more and one day you wake up and that fear is gone. The things we get used to! People dying. People leaving us. Flying! Wi-fi in the air! We can get used to anything.

With time.

I started to think about it as I sat here in my middle seat (which I grumbled about of course, because in my mind I should be flying first class.) I don’t know why I think that but I got offended when they changed my seat and stuck me here in the middle as if they should have known better. Then I got over myself. For the most part. I still don’t like it but I have wi-fi. There’s that.

I am sitting here squashed and thinking about fear of flying and I realize that I am scared still, of heights, of expanding past what I think I am capable of.

I was in Santa Fe a couple weeks ago visiting one of my best friends you’ve heard me talk so much about: the writer Emily Rapp. Now Ms. Rapp is one of the best writers, living or dead, I have come across so when I am around her, well, I feel more like a real writer. Whatever that means. So I am with her in Santa Fe, Emily and her dying son Ronan (he has the incurable Tay-Sachs Disease) and she says something about me being a writer. I can’t remember what but I do remember I said I want to be known as Jen the writer not Jen the yoga teacher.

I realize that. My dharma, my purpose, my calling, whatever hippy dippy or non woo-woo word you want to use for it, well, I am not sure teaching yoga is that for me for me. But who decides?

Does it matter what I am known for?

These are all questions I ask myself as I buckle into my seat and get ready for take-off because you know once you are soaring there is little you can do to change what is behind you. Even though I have spent most of my life thinking I can change the past, and alternately, living there.

Does it matter if I am known, period?

It does if I want to write a best-selling book. So where is it? I write daily. Where is my book? I write blog after blog and some that I really love but my book is the the thing in the sky I am scared of. What if I write it and? There are a million ways to finish that sentence.

What if I can’t finish it?

All the what if’s are like turbulence and here I am up in the air trying to balance a cup of coffee. It keeps spilling and I have to refill.

What if I tell the story of who I am and they see me?

Who is “they”?

The fear of flying is so great that it sometimes keeps us grounded. Wayne Dyer has this great saying which I may butcher but it goes something like: Flight wasn’t discovered by  contemplating the staying on the ground of things.

So why are we so scared of flying?

I think it boils down to death. We are scared we are going to die. We are going to crash. (It feels somehow blasphemous to be writing about crashing and death while sitting on a plane.)

Let’s break it down?

How can I crash with my book?

I can expose myself. I can write a flop. People might hate me.

Okay, there’s that.

So what?

So what?

I need to do it anyway. My calling ( I imagine a deli and a man behind the counter calling my number) is to be a writer. A connector. A communicator. A healer. All of it. So yes, I use yoga to get my people in the room. I also use writing. I use whatever I can, whatever method I can travel by. Sometimes, in NYC, I take the bus. Look, I will get there how I need to get there unless my fear of flying debilitates me so much that I stay locked in my room playing on Facebook.

Why are we scared of success? Why do we need to apologize for it? (Okay, read: me.)

Usually when I saw we I mean me. I can only ever talk about what I know.

This I know: I am here in the sky in a chair and I am ready to tell the story of who I am. I am not scared of this plane crashing oddly enough just of my own light allowing to live the life I want. And why is that scary?

It comes down to worthiness.

I am a writer. I am flying. Look, I haven’t crashed yet. It’s only my fear of it which is keeping me filled with anxiety white fingernails.

Is the fear real?

You tell me.

I will tell you this. All of my fears originate in my mind which is a breeding ground for trouble. I love my mind but i will be damned if I have it control me and my piloting skills.

I am flying this motherf*cking plane.

I am a writer. We are what we say we are.

I am flying.

**Love to hear your thoughts below. Who are you? Where are you scared of flying? Of your own light?

** as a side note, my book agent came to my sold out workshop at Pure Yoga in NYC last week and every person went up to her and told her how excited they were to read my book. There’s that.

Guest Posts

Manifest-Station Message of the Day.

June 19, 2012

Manifest-Station Message of the Day for 6/19/12

Don’t worry.

Everyone on Facebook seems like they have funner and happier lives.

They don’t.

So shut the computer and never compare yourself to anyone else because each time you do you lose a little bit of your own awesomeness.

How do you “like” that?

The brilliant Joe Longo of course. Click to connect with him.

Daily Manifestation Challenge

Daily Manifestation Challenge: Are You Addicted to “Like”?

May 31, 2012

The real question is this: Where can you be honest with yourself? Where can you be the most honest you that you have ever been?

Yesterday I rode my bike, along with my dear friend Laura, to Redondo Beach.

From Santa Monica.

Thank God The Redondo Beach Pier had those awesome fish tacos and pints of beer or I wouldn’t have made it back. ( Not joking.) 34 miles is a long haul, folks. A long haul.

I had a lot of time to think. To just be.

Here is my honesty for the day, my second Confession in the Confession Series. (click to read Confession about sucking my thumb.)

I realized I am addicted to likes. To clicks. 

I am addicted to Like.

Like the song Addicted To Love. Just change it to Like.

I post a blog. And then I check every few minutes to see how it’s doing. Did they like it? Do they like me? ( Who, in the name of God, are “they”?)

Am I good enough?

I am being honest here, so I am breaking down what it really means.

I have become a slave to my phone and computer, so dialed in and over-connected all the time.  Yesterday as I rode all those miles and looked out at the ocean I thought about how great it felt to be off the grid. To not care one way or the other what was going on in the world beyond that moment, there on my bike.

I am being raw and looking deep within the caves of Jennifer that are not to be found on Facebook or Twitter.

It’s not a conscious thing I am talking about. It’s something I realized there on my beach cruiser with the orange basket in front and fishing rod in back; this need for connection and approval to make me feel good about myself.

We all want to be liked. That’s natural. 

The reality? Not everyone will like us.

That’s ok. It’s usually not about us anyway, and, even if it is, it doesn’t matter. It’s their opinion to have, whoever they are.

I was with my private client last week and Bruce Springsteen was in the background singing one of my favorites, “My Hometown.” I looked over at him and asked: Are you a Bruce fan?

Him: Nah.

Me: Really?

So I realized that if you plug in your favorite artist or singer or anyone that you think is the best there is, you will always find someone that says: They suck.

How can you not be a Bruce fan? I thought and was truly baffled.

So there will always be someone that doesn’t like Bruce or Snow Patrol or your favorite band or artist. Helps you get over the fact that not all people will like you, right?

So back to the honesty question. Where can you be really honest with yourself?

A confession, if you will.

Mine is: I am an addict.

My last post on one of the many sites I write for got a hundred plus comments but only a thousand “likes.”

Do you know that I actually spent time thinking about this?

Comparing myself to other people? Wondering why more people hadn’t clicked “like” on something that was so personal, so important to me? Something that I had spent so much time on and which I thought was really good? What if the website didn’t publish me anymore? What if it means something, this only a “thousand likes” business?

And you know what? The what if’s, when you spell them out and look them square in the jaw, end up being small little things that get filed under “Irrelevant” in your Life File, along with getting into a “perfect” yoga pose or being the “perfect” weight.

I caught myself in my own trap.

I have become tethered to something that is, in no way, shape, or form: real.

I have allowed it.

I have become a junkie to people validating me.

It’s easy to happen.

Everything has a like button so how can we start to not feel as if it a personal sign we are wearing?

Like me? Please, please click “like”? Vote for me? “Like” me and I will believe I am good enough and if you don’t like me then I will feel worthless.

It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?

So, now what?

I am honest with it, now what? I am looking at it. I am “being with it” as they say. Now what?

So, here’s what: I shut the computer. I go sit with my husband and have a nice meal and a glass of wine. I let go of any notion that my self worth is connected to how many Facebook fans I have, how many likes I have on a post, how many tweets or pinterests or shmiterests. I let myself sit and be like I am on a bike with not a care in the world except how far away the dang Pier is, with it’s fish tacos and beer.

Where can you be honest with yourself? That’s Today’s Daily Manifestation Challenge or DMC. Come on and take it! Answer below. I know it is scary, but it feels so so good.

Delight, Guest Posts, Inspiration

Share of the Day: Wow. Wow. Wow.

May 14, 2012

Remote Inspiration.

Below is an email I received over the weekend. I have never met or talked to the woman who wrote it. (Of course now, we are divinely connected. In fact, we always were I just hadn’t known it yet.)

Pretty much blew me away so take a moment to stop and read. 

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

Hi Jennifer,

I live in Liberty, Missouri, have been practicing and teaching meditation and reiki for over 14 years. I began teaching yoga in 2006 and in 2008 I opened a Health & Wellness Center and Yoga Studio. I am the creator of Visualize You, lifestyle coaching sessions designed to crack open even the toughest, most stressed out nuts around! I have an amazing husband, a daughter 29 and our son whom we adopted from Guatemala who is 9.

Enough about me. I have been following you for about a year now, I’m not even sure how it is that I first found your site. When I need a little inspiration, I log on to fb or twitter and always have something you have written or pictures you’ve posted which inspire me. I also have been a huge Wayne Dyer fan, his books have changed my perception more than once, opening me up to new opportunities.

Last week I read a poem you wrote on your Facebook page. I read it, and it spoke to me, I read it again and again and found myself meditating on the questions and began to feel that flood of gratitude and energy from the thoughts of how amazing my life is. The pictures in my mind began to flow through my life’s challenges and the growth and grace I have gratefully received with each challenge. My thoughts then began to visualize my dreams and what I am manifesting today. It was an awesomely cool moment.

Soooo, I had to share it! I read your poem in class as part of the meditation and the response from the students was awesome!! Many of them expressed to me a very similar experience to what I had experienced that day at home.

At the request of my students I began recording my Monday Morning Meditation classes and posting them on Youtube so they can access the meditations anytime they need a little extra lift. I thought you might enjoy hearing your poem, with the knowledge that in the middle of the Midwest you touched our yoga community! Thank you Jennifer, I visualize us hangin’ together some day!

Namaste’

Patti Stark

www.serenityonthesquare.com

 

You must listen. My poem starts around 5:32. Her voice is gorgeous.

 

Here is the poem I wrote which was originally my Facebook status update. You see, Facebook can be used to inspire! I love when social media is used in this way…

What humbles you, bringing you to your knees?
 
What do stand gaping, open-mouthed and in awe of?
Who do you love impossibly and with every inch of possibility?
What rock have lifted to find Grace buried under it, waiting for you to pick it up?
 
When you bring your hands together,
there, like that~
Whose name is on your lips, as you bow your head closer to your heart?
 
Who have you lost along the way~
Only to discover Losing is only a temporary room
where voices, smells and gestures nestle before they return
to the bed you’ve carefully made in your heart?
 
Which words crack your heart open?
Which silences?
 
What makes you get very quiet and listen as if your life depended on it?
 
What if it did?
 
What if it all boiled down to that moment,
 
there on your knees,
listening with grace?
 
 
~jp