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beauty, Binders, Guest Posts, Humor, Owning It!, Self Love

The Other Plastic Surgery.

February 16, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Sara Bir. 

There’s a face I’m sick of seeing, and it’s not the rearranged mess of a scandalized Hollywood star. It’s a face I confront in every reflective surface—the bathroom mirror, the screen of my smartphone if I tilt it just so. Perhaps this face may even appear superimposed on that of a celebrity of a certain age, if I pause while zipping along through my Facebook feed.

“What the heck happened?” I think in shock, every single time, because the face glaring back at me does not match my memory of what my face looks like. The skin at the corners of eyelids and lips is creased, slack; the purplish sacks under the eyes are increasingly puffy and swollen, almost like bruises. My nose, which has always been large, is gleefully launching into a mid-life growth spurt, veering off-center to one side and becoming bulbous and shiny, like Santa’s.

This is the other plastic surgery. It’s the kind that rearranges your face in totally unexpected ways. This surgeon of mine should be taken to court, I grumble, but I didn’t hire him. Or is it her? Perhaps they work as a husband-wife team, the practice of Mother Nature and Father Time. They are certainly not exclusive; in fact, it’s impossible not to get a referral. And they’re quite generous with appointments, happy to work your countenance over again and again. They really don’t make any compromises, those two. Try as you might, these practitioners will always be in your health network.

 

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.

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.

 

The handiwork of Drs. M. Nature and F. Time is understandably a concern for anyone whose career demands fresh, fussed-over faces. Thank god I’m not a glamorous media figure, because even without a long, expensive vacation to Camp Nip’n’Tuck, the shifting topography of my head is, to me, as startling as Renée’s, or Madonna’s, or Kenny’s, or Nicole’s.

That’s because the face I unfailingly expect to greet me from a mirror is perhaps circa 1999, or maybe 2004, or maybe not from any specific era of my life except an idealized past. Who knows what I’m idealizing, because, at a still-spry 38 years, inside I feel more confident and sorted-out than I ever did when my skin cells still had snappy elasticity. After a few seconds adjusting to the very human lady blinking back at me in those oh-so-unbeautiful morning minutes after rustling out of bed, I just sigh and call a truce.

I went to my husband for a sympathetic ear, and also to gauge the waters of our marital relations. Alas, my vigilant team of plastic surgeons also did a number on my breasts and abdomen. The stomach is quite fit if I flex it, something I only do if I’m scrutinizing my profile under the unflattering florescent lights of a dressing room. Otherwise, the unflexed tummy flesh and skin are rubbery and malleable, like Silly Putty. As for my breasts, once I stopped nursing my young daughter, they vanished; my cup size is essentially –AA. This is the one session with Mother Nature and Father Time that’s made me feel youthful, because now the only place I can find bras that fit is in the little girl’s section at Target.

Still, men like boobs. One evening, at bedtime, I worked up enough courage to ask my husband, “Are you still attracted to me even though I’m so different now?”

“What?” he said, distracted. I’d disturbed the constant, anxious reverie about his receding hairline. As if he has time to think about where my boobs went! Isn’t that what internet pornography is for?

So I dropped it. In fact, no one seems to notice the havoc my plastic surgeons have wreaked on my face. Sometimes, if I go months without running into a friend, they’ll even say, “You look great!” And I, in turn, am pleased seeing their glowing, radiant selves, and I don’t even think about scrutinizing their expanding pores or multiplying crow’s feet. Maybe that’s because their faces are not stretched in high definition across a television that spans an entire wall in our living room. Maybe because the energy inside someone when you see them in person has so much to do with how you perceive the physicality of that face.

While trapped in the snaking line of the express checkout at the grocery store yesterday, the cover of a Prevention magazine caught my eye. “Stop aging!” the headline blared. I’ve flirted with capsules, lotions, and masks, and I can vouch that it’s not humanly possible cease the steady march of the Other Plastic Surgery. We all know there’s really only one way to stop aging, and that’s to die. I’d rather keep on living, with this ever-dynamic face. I found it looks years younger when I don’t scowl at the mirror.

 

servicesSara Bir is a chef, food writer, and usually confident parent living in Ohio. Her essay “Smelted”, from the website Full Grown People, appears in Best Food Writing 2014. You can read Sara’s blog, The Sausagetarian, at www.sausagetarian.com. This is her second essay on The Manifest-Station.

Do you want the space and joy to get back into your body? To get into your words and stories?  Join Jen Pastiloff and best-selling author Lidia Yuknavitch over Labor Day weekend 2015 for their 2nd Writing & The Body Retreat in Ojai, California following their last one, which sold out in 48 hours. You do NOT have to be a writer or a yogi.  "So I’ve finally figured out how to describe Jen Pastiloff's Writing and the Body yoga retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch. It’s story-letting, like blood-letting but more medically accurate: Bleed out the stories that hold you down, get held in the telling by a roomful of amazing women whose stories gut you, guide you. Move them through your body with poses, music, Jen’s booming voice, Lidia’s literary I’m-not-sorry. Write renewed, truthful. Float-stumble home. Keep writing." ~ Pema Rocker, attendee of Writing & The Body Feb 2015

Do you want the space and joy to get back into your body?
To get into your words and stories? Join Jen Pastiloff and best-selling author Lidia Yuknavitch over Labor Day weekend 2015 for their 2nd Writing & The Body Retreat in Ojai, California following their last one, which sold out in 48 hours. You do NOT have to be a writer or a yogi.
“So I’ve finally figured out how to describe Jen Pastiloff’s Writing and the Body yoga retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch. It’s story-letting, like blood-letting but more medically accurate: Bleed out the stories that hold you down, get held in the telling by a roomful of amazing women whose stories gut you, guide you. Move them through your body with poses, music, Jen’s booming voice, Lidia’s literary I’m-not-sorry. Write renewed, truthful. Float-stumble home. Keep writing.” ~ Pema Rocker, attendee of Writing & The Body Feb 2015

Featured image courtesy of Timothy Krause.

Guest Posts, motherhood, parenting

That Mom.

November 20, 2014


beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black
By Sara Bir.

Oh, great. Here she comes. That mom. You know the one, the mom who only shows up to half the parent nights? The one whose kid made a huge scene at the free folk music concert? She’s so the mom who makes a point of exposing her kid to everything. I can’t stand that mom.

Except I’m that mom.

I’m the mom whose kid constantly has a crust of something on her face, dried snot or avocado or spaghetti sauce. I’m the mom who uses the eco-friendly laundry detergent that never gets stains out, even though I scrub at them with a bar of Fels- Naptha, so my kid always has faint outlines of grease or finger paint or god knows what on her clothes. I am the mom you refuse hand-me-downs from.

I am the mom who never seems to have baby wipes when wipes are needed, the mom who forgot the extra socks or the raincoat at home. I am the mom who counts on your wipes, your extra socks.

I am the mom who blithely brings her kid to the restaurant, and then looks horrified when her kid spills milk, screams for no reason, flails in the booth, and eats like a heathen. I am the mom whose own meal, which she was so glad not to have to prepare, is ruined when she threatens her child with leaving the restaurant right then, but of course we don’t, because I am the mom who will eat her goddamn food while it’s hot.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Humor, Women

Dear Breasts.

October 16, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-blackBy Naomi Alana Zener.

Dear Breasts,

We’ve had a parting of ways of late. Two pregnancies and two breastfed babies later, you’ve decided to de-friend me and befriend gravity, forcing me to heftily rely on and rendering me beholden to the much-needed sturdy, non-sexy bras that no woman wants to be seen buying, because you are well on your way to touching my toes. However, in spite of your impudence and your defiant desire to move in directions that my twenty-something year old former self would never have imagined, we now stand at a crossroads in my mid-thirties, both literally and figuratively. I could scream, rant and rave, putting the best plastic surgeons on speed dial, or I could sit back and accept my new udder-like image.

In truth, loving you was never easy. When younger, a washboard chest was not as enviable as was having washboard abs. Then, a few years into adolescence, you grew overnight. Having only really only ever known A grades, I was suddenly confronted with the letter D, the upside of which was that I garnered the favour of copious amounts of male attention. I often wondered if you were my friends or my foes. In the end, you became the best ‘wingmen’ a gal could ever ask for. Many dates, some good and many bad later, I found myself in the arms of the man I wanted to and ended up marrying, a self-confessed breast man, who worshipped at the altar of my beckoning bosom.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Inspiration, Sex

Sex & Sickly Girl.

June 11, 2014

By Litsa Dremousis.

I stood nude in my doorway and laughed.

“Thomas! Come here!” I called to my dog, a willful Pomeranian who’d jetted into my building’s hallway on the heels of my new boyfriend Greg. So much for my sultry goodbye. Greg burst out laughing, too, scooped up the wriggling Thomas and set him behind my door jam, where I nudged him back with the red lacquered toes of my left foot. Still giggling, Greg and I kissed again, once more wrapping up a delightfully carnal twenty-four hours in which we only stopped for Thai food and cherry-almond pie.

I shut the door, hobbled to my bedroom and collapsed on my disheveled bed. The surrounding terrain resembled a Motley Crue video, with all manner of sex detritus strewn about, minus the drugs and hairspray. Thomas yelped and looked at me with pleading eyes, so I sat up, scooped him onto Greg’s pillow, then resumed lying flat, as joyful as I was immobile.

Greg had arrived at noon the previous day, ostensibly to see a documentary playing up the hill. It was our fourth date and when he kissed me hello as I reached for my purse, we kept kissing and soon were horizontal and writhing, despite Thomas’ unbroken barks of protest. I kept apologizing that my dog was losing his mind and Greg kept assuring me he didn’t care. And based on his performance, I believed him.

Our first time was free from the awkwardness that often hovers over such encounters, as each of you figures out who likes what and where and how. Greg and I simply clicked: we made wonderful discoveries, but felt like we’d known each other forever. He had the wisdom of an older man, but the parts of a younger one and while this wasn’t why I soon fell in love with him, it certainly didn’t hurt.

Thomas fell asleep and I wrapped the bedspread over myself and basked in post-coital giddiness. I was happy. Pure, undiluted happy. Greg was brilliant, compassionate, hilarious, had read my work before we’d met and was as handsome with his glasses off as he was with them on. (I have a thing for glasses.) My longtime partner had died four years prior and it’d taken me a long time to feel like a sexual human again, as opposed to a decaying lump of seaweed. The man I’d dated previously had helped me navigate this complex transition, but with Greg, I was starting off wholly libidinous and feeling like myself. My life was good. Great, even.

Then I tried to stand up.

I assumed, perhaps naively or maybe prematurely, that because my sex drive was fully recharged and because Greg already knew I have both a dead partner and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, a chronic, incurable, degenerative illness that presents similarly to M.S., our sex life would be relatively uncomplicated. Which sounds counterintuitive, but all the weird stuff I can’t control was already out in the open and Greg still pursued me. He shared tales of his past to level the playing field, as such, and I still very much wanted him. I’m 47 and he’s 51 and as he sagely noted, it’d be so much stranger if neither of us had shades of color to our past. If you make it to middle age without some deep wounds but, also, a greater perspective and richer appreciation for joy, well, you’ve likely padded yourself in bubble wrap or just haven’t been paying attention.

So, traveling along merrily, I didn’t see the upcoming speed-bump. We’re engaged now, and our sex life largely consists of perpetual lust, food and dog appeasement. With no disrespect to our previous loves, Greg and I sometimes hold each other, laugh and ask, “Where the hell *were* you?” There’s an old Greek adage, “The pot rolled down the hill and found its lid” and we’ve heard it from my family a dozen or so times now. I’m the master of complicated relationships, but this one is as easy as it is loving. Unfortunately, though, no amount of love cures an incurable illness. And over time, any amount of illness will impact your sex life.

At first, the effects weren’t evident.

Greg and I reveled in each other’s minds and wit and this prompted still more disrobing. We remained devoted to our respective jobs–each of us is fortunate to love what we do–but quickly adjusted our schedules to see each other as much as possible.

And that’s when the speed-bump rose, forcing me to slow down. Because adhering to deadlines for two books and several essays, all while constantly seeing the love of your life and boffing him with vigor will, it turns out, lead to some immuno mayhem. The ceaseless activity and lack of sleep, i.e. frequent components of a super-fun new relationship, quickly led to less fun things like falling and fevers and secondary infections. (No, not those kind.) Nausea, chronic pain and near paralytic levels of exhaustion, all hallmarks of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, began kicking the crap out of me more so than is usual.

I’ve had M.E. for 23 years and excel at symptom management. But I’ve grown sicker since the last time I spent this much time with a partner, and Greg is now my fiance, no less. I genuinely like partaking in his world. So, despite his culinary wizardry, I’m learning to make dishes with more than four ingredients and figuring out how to use his NASA-level coffee maker. I like watching him teach at the University of Washington or listening to him explain the finer points of his photography equipment. Not because Greg is pressuring me. Far from it. Indeed, he’s incredibly understanding that I do some of the aforementioned while lying flat on his couch. And he has immersed himself in my worlds, spending much time at literary events and with my friends and family. Basically, to poach Cole Porter, we get a kick out of each other.

The unavoidable fact, however, is that for the first time in my life, and much to my chagrin and occasional humiliation, there are brief times I’m simply too ill for sex. And then I feel like an idiot. Because I love Greg and we consistently have great sex. Saying no, however temporarily, is like declining the steak and ice cream right there on the table before me.

He and I can approach this in the touchy-feeliest way possible, but barring a fetish, there’s nothing sexy about illness. I have friends who don’t like to shag when they have a cold, for god’s sake. If I waited ‘til I felt well to have sex, I’d die celibate. So, I’m always ill when I have sex; it’s just a question of degree. Mildly symptomatic? “Fire down below!” Extremely symptomatic? “Can we wait ‘til morning, honey? In the meantime, can I have a shoulder rub because it kind of hurts to breathe?”

Greg loves me and has wryly noted it won’t fall off if he has to wait a few hours. He has lead the way in figuring out new and creative ways to make gravity work for us. In the best way, our bed has become a sort of laboratory. And because all sexual experimentation, sick or well, requires trust and communication, in a roundabout way, my illness has brought us even closer. I’m not fabricating a silver lining, but that is pretty wonderful. Especially as we plan to spend the rest of our lives together and all.

Of course, should there be a cure, start a pizza fund for us and please donate generously because we’re leaving the house again never.

 Litsa Dremousis' work appears in The Believer, Esquire, Hobart, Jezebel, McSweeney's, MSN, Nerve, New York Magazine, The Onion's A.V. Club, Salon, Slate, The Weeklings, on KUOW, NPR, and in sundry other venues. She’s completing her first novel, assuming it doesn't complete her first. On Twitter: @LitsaDremousis. Photo: Trent Hill


Litsa Dremousis’ work appears in The Believer, Esquire, Hobart, Jezebel, McSweeney’s, MSN, Nerve, New York Magazine, The Onion’s A.V. Club, Salon, Slate, The Weeklings, on KUOW, NPR, and in sundry other venues. She’s completing her first novel, assuming it doesn’t complete her first. On Twitter: @LitsaDremousis.
Photo credit: Trent Hill

 

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above!

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above!

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it's magical.

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it’s magical.

And So It Is, Beating Fear with a Stick, writing

Tips and Ass. By Amy Ferris.

April 23, 2014

Tips And Ass. By Amy Ferris.

talk about ONE song bringing back a flood of memories.
rubberband man

welcome to my memory.

once upon a time, like many, many, many years ago, i danced topless for one night.

years ago.
years.
ago.

for one night.

i was working a temp job which i got from a temp agency, and i was asked by the temp agency to not return to my temp job as in “don’t ever, ever come back.”

long story. bad experience.
i also waitressed.
then the restaurant closed.

it was the universe telling me i needed to expand my horizons.
you know, be bold, audacious, be big, huge … jump.

leap. go for broke.

the thing i loved about waitressing was the tips. i loved that at the end of the night i had cash. a tiny little wad of cash. and so, i thought, “geez… what kinda job can i get with tips?”

after a few weeks (okay, maybe days) of trying to find another waitressing job… (waitressing was HOT back then, and most folks i knew waited tables), a bulb went off. albeit, a dim one…

“i know, i’ll try topless dancing.”

before you go to the whoa, whoa, whoa place — dancing topless is in a completely different (okay, slightly different) category than say stripping, and/or lap dancing. you needed an agent to get a topless gig. my very first, and only ‘dancing’ agent, was right out of central casting: heavy-set, her lids coated with baby blue eye-shadow. a long strawberry blonde wig. she was tough, she was crude, she said “youse” a lot, and …

… she got me a job dancing topless at juniors in brooklyn.

juniors in brooklyn i asked with excitement? are you kidding me, juniors… oh my god, you got me a job at juniors in brooklyn? i was so excited, i could barely contain myself.

no, no…no… not that juniors, whatdya nuts? she said, this a joint, a bar, a small little fucking bar… that’s a famous cheesecake place.

hmmm, i said really two places in brooklyn named juniors? that seems kinda … you know, weird.

you want the job she asked cause i have other girls dyin’ fuckin’ dyin’ to dance.
tips and a meal. that’s what you get. tips and a meal.

TIPS!

this juniors was a small corner dive bar in brooklyn, honest to god, just a couple of blocks from hell & high-water.

and for the record: i didn’t wanna be a ‘professional’ dancer. just as i never wanted to be a professional bowler. it’s just, i loved dancing, and i figured, what the hell, i’ll make a few bucks… a few of my friends – okay acquaintances – were dancing topless at night, and going on auditions during the day. i was young. i was wild. i was adventurous. i was also a size 3, and was very happily & thoroughly delighted to be a size 32 A cup. i was small. i was firm. and no, i could not twirl my breasts counter clockwise to save my life. but there i was – a ton of make-up, my long curly hair falling in front of my blue mascara-ed eyelashes – dancing, shaking, trying desperately to be sexy, while dancing on top of – THAT’S RIGHT, ON TOP OF – the bar in HEELS as the song rubberband man played over & over & over & over again on the juke box.

i was sweating, i was dancing, and yes, yes…i was a freak show with royal blue mascara dripping down my hot pink cheeks.

i was one of three girls dancing that night.

the two other girls – women – had 8 x 10 framed glossies in the front window, with x’s and o’s and kisses, their names signed on their glossies. their breasts were big, huge, and man, could they twirl. holy shit, could they twirl. they could bend and twirl and these women wore sequins and pasties, and their hair was sprayed and didn’t move. not one inch. not one hair on their head moved when they danced the night away.
they did not sweat.
their names were barbie & sissy.
they were professional dancers.

they made a lot of money that night. they were able to grab the bills – and yes, hold the bills – between their breasts. in their cleavage. and then they would twirl & dip & dance with the money. they laughed & twirled, and they could sing along with tito puente.

i had no cleavage.
i made no money.
i didn’t give a shit about rubberbands.
and i didn’t know who tito was.

i had to borrow money to get home.

barbie & sissy went on to sell their sequins thong’s and pasties on e-bay. they made a fortune.
and, yes, they probably even collect residuals from their breasts.

my agent fired me. she called me and told me that since i couldn’t pick up the cash with my cleavage i had no future in topless dancing.

hmmm, i thought, let me see if i can do something with this useful information and so…

… i learned how to pick up pens & pencils.

and that’s how i got my first literary agent.

 

Image

Amy Ferris: Author. Writer. Girl.
blog: www.marryinggeorgeclooney.com
Book: Dancing at The Shame Prom, sharing the stories that kept us small – Anthology, Seal Press (2012) co-edited with Hollye Dexter
Book: Marrying George Clooney, Confessions From A Midlife Crisis, Seal Press (2010)

*****

Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer living on an airplane. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, Salon, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Modern Loss, xojane, among others. She’s the founder of The Manifest-Station. Jen’s leading a weekend 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 Seattle and London July 6. (London sells out fast so book soon if you plan on attending!)

 

Guest Posts

Setting Free The Bears.

March 5, 2014

By Maggie May Ethridge (who, truth be told, Jen has a total girl crush on.)

When life is hard, then harder, then fossilized into a shell over your skin so tight and so fragile it breaks with the smallest tapping of the new thing trying to be born, then there are things that must be done. Firstly, right yourself. Are you sleeping enough? Your mother told you. Your doctor told you. Even your Uncle Alfred who farted and belched loudly after turkey dinner told you – you must sleep enough, or simply nothing works just right. Your brain is your gateway to reality. If you close off the energy force the gateway will not work, and your entire perception of reality will be tilted, see- just so – just enough to make you slightly wonky. I’m already wonky on my own, born and bred, and need no help in that direction.

Next, are you eating healthy? Every meal should be protein, veggie, healthy carb (nothing white, but brown rice, multigrain breads). Eat in intervals that feel natural to your body. Drink water. You don’t like a shrively pruney lemon looking face, do you? Well you don’t want your brain this way either. Drink. Then there are the essential caretaking measures: shower, shave, scrub your pits. If, because of lack of hygiene, you happen to randomly and repeatedly catch a whiff of your own sour stench repeatedly during the day while trying to interact with other life forms, you might find you like yourself a little less. ‘ Anyone worthwhile, ‘ you might think ‘ would not smell like pig ass when they have a perfectly available and working shower, equipted with the latest modern miracles like razors and soap. ‘ Shower. Lather. Make large, ridiculously cheerful bubbles, and sing. I recommend singing a rap song in operetta. I do, and it makes me happy.

Also, don’t forget to wear clean clothes that fit well. Now you are fed a nutritious meal, showered and shaved, dressed and standing tall. Let’s begin by setting the mood. Music Please… and

Flowers. Pick some, buy some, just get em, anyway you can, and spread them around your places. Your places are usually work, home, maybe a lover’s apartment, or your psychotherapist- wherever you spent a lot of time. Put them there.

Also, while I’m on the subject, be Naked. Often. Get in touch with your body, as a living breathing beautiful form, not just as a clothes hanger or food hamper. Have Sex.

If you have no one to have sex with, have it with yourself. Do something
that feels good, and feel good about it. See? Your 8th grade Religious Studies
teacher was wrong about masturbation, because I have neither 1. pimples nor 2. scales on my hands.

Take every opportunity to Dance * yes dance, dance i said, not only you sexy people, all you sly muthas, just get out there and dance- Dance, I Said!* Salt and Pepa knew. So should you.
I dance in the shower ( not while soaping and singing. that might get tricky. ) I dance in the car. I dance at work, to the amusement of my co-workers ( Yes you, Stephanie and Heather ) I even hurt my right butt cheek dancing to Michael Jackson in the sun room two days ago.

Remember White Nights? How could you not want to tap and leap your way into life!

 
Now we are somewhat refreshed. Here is where we begin to think of how we can be of Service to one another. To the people around us. I had my son at 19, and learned one of the greatest lessons of my life in his birth: acting in behalf of another human being is one of the greatest healing actions available to us. Not the daily ‘allowances’ that we make for one another- these things that we confuse with service to our friends and family but really are only small ways to drive ourselves crazy- the constant yes when no is meant, the answering of phones at any occasion or time, the need and demand for availability ( IM, Chat, Facebook, Phone, Cell, Email), this kind of thing. To care and love in a healing way means that we keep our eyes open for the person who needs and desires it. This is stopping when a flustered, near tears elderly lady cannot find her money and paying for her coffee, taking on a mentor role in a young person’s life, volunteering an an Assisted Living Facility or Pediatric Unit at the hospital, making dinner twice a week for the family of someone undergoing cancer treatments- these and million other actions are what unite us as a people and bring peace and meaning to our lives.

Then there is the indomitable Spirit. As a writer and poet and passionate person in general, I have only once in my adult life felt disconnected from my spirit, and I fought tooth and nail to regain my whole. I believe that literally the act of holding your head up is a physical way to pull the strings of the spirit. I will NOT look down at the fucking ground. Everything we do to nourish our spirit is reflected back eventually. I am a huge believer in taking positive action even when you cannot see the results. The lack of results is a facade. Holding your head up, repeating marching orders to yourself ( you will be able to do this, yes ), reading about the particular issues you have in life, talking to friends, a therapist, service – it all becomes part of the gust of spirit that will eventually blow through you and lift you back up where you belong. So,

finding what nourishes the Spirit is an important part of growing up. Am I grown up yet?

Bears

Can I Set Free The Bears?

Next time we will discuss:
Drinking
Vacationing in ill-mowed and unkept squares of green (otherwise known as my backyard)
The in-house prescription for cheer
Sticky notes of love (not what you might think)
Animals and their furry hairy magic
and
Children make good clowns, there for your amusement.

Maggie May Ethridge is a novelist, poet and freelance writer from the deep South who has lived most of her life in San Diego, CA. She has an Ebook coming out in January with the new publishing company Shebooks ” Atmospheric Disturbances: Scenes From A Marriage ” and is completing her second novel. She has been published in magazines both on and offline in places like Diagram, The Nervous Breakdown, Equals Record and blogs regularly at Flux Capacitor.

flux_capacitor_frame

Jennifer Pastiloff, Beauty Hunter, is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Salon, among others. 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.) She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.

 

 
Guest Posts, Inspiration, travel, Travels

Aloneha! Honeymoon for One.

November 29, 2013

Aloneha! Honeymoon for One

By Malina Saval

It’s five days after my well-intentioned but delinquent boyfriend, Jake, has packed up his beat-up, burgundy Chevy —”I’m going to get my life together, I swear“— and moved from Los Angeles back to Phoenix to live with his parents. And I’m sitting all alone on a beach in Ka’anapali, a resort area in western Maui, trying to figure out how I can simultaneously go swimming and prevent my backpack with my travelers checks, credit cards and camera in it from getting stolen. My notepad is in there too, and a pack of blue Bic pens, because I’ve come on this trip to write the Great American Novel (or, at least, the Great American Outline).

Jake and I had only dated three months, but he was funny, sweet, and sent me giant bouquets of flowers with the money that he should have been spending on rent. He would have fit the bill so far as romantic getaway companions go. And yet, here I was, alone, surrounded on all sides by hordes of annoyingly affectionate honeymooners while spitting on my finger to wipe the caked sand off my pen cap.

It started with Drew Barrymore. I had read an interview months earlier in which Drew talked about treating herself to a week alone in Hawaii. She gushed about the vacation in that decidedly Drew-esque way, sprinkling her travelogue with words like “maaaagical” and “phenoooomenal” and “amaaaazing.” In Hawaii, said Drew, she had found her best friend, her soul mate, the person upon whom she could count most in this world: Herself.

It was Drew Barrymore that Drew Barrymore could count on.

A year or so later, after scrounging up airfare and hotel from my paltry-paying job as an associate editor at a small (now defunct) magazine, I’m sitting on my oversized beach towel, repeating the mantra It’s OK to be aloneIt’s OK to be alone until the hotel cocktail waiter, upon serving me my second piña colada of the day (and it’s only 10 a.m.), asks if I would like to see the hotel doctor.

I’m terrified, at 27, of winding up alone.

I had traveled alone before, several times, in fact, through Europe, the Middle East, Mexico. And yes, there were honeymooners there too, but there were also starving student backpackers and art museums and archeological ruins serving as convenient distractions. In Maui, there are just beaches to kiss on and waterfalls to kiss under and the ocean to kiss in.

And then there’s me. Drinking piña coladas at ten a.m. while repeating self-help mantras amidst the sound of gently rolling waves.

Then, late on day one of my solo Hawaiian holiday, I meet Javier and Keith, two single straight guys in their late thirties who were upgraded to a honeymoon suite after being mistaken for a gay married couple by the hotel management. Javier works for the Democratic Party in some vague capacity and Keith is a union leader who got to sit next to Barbra Streisand at the Democratic National Convention and touch her nails.

That night, Javier, Keith and I, the only three single people on the entire island of Maui, reap the glories of their honeymoon suite, star gazing on the balcony while drinking screwdrivers from the mini-bar and making out animal shapes in the navy-blue clouds. We laugh about the string of dysfunctional affairs we’ve all had—I come in first, with seventeen (eighteen?)—and by the end of the night, I slowly begin to rediscover the joys of traveling alone. The alcohol and jokes have done their trick and, for the first time since Jake left—and the dozen or so before him— I’m not panicked about turning 30 (in three years) and not being in a committed relationship with somebody that can take care of me.

The next morning, after walking to the local pharmacy for Monistat-7 (Jake left me with one souvenir), I inhale a breakfast of French toast soaked in cinnamon-vanilla egg batter and macadamia nut syrup, a Hawaiian specialty. After breakfast, I go snorkeling with Javier and Keith. We rent masks and flippers and spent hours gliding beneath the smooth, translucent blue water in Olowalu, just south of Ka’anapali. We spot tropical fish of every imaginable color, and I get to see what a yellowtail sushi roll looks like in its natural environment. I flap my arms up and down and push myself deeper and deeper toward the bottom (which, in this part, is only about 12 feet) until I am sealed off from the rest of the world. Everything falls silent, but not in its usual bad way.

That night, I sit at the hotel bar, writing on my laptop, while listening to a Jim Croce impersonator sing “Time in a Bottle.”  I’m surrounded by couples in love: a man in a white bowling shirt embraces a woman in a floral-print sarong; a twenty-something brunette with a huge diamond engagement ring links hands with her fiancé. At one point, an older couple approaches, asking what publication I write for and why am I here alone?

“I don’t write for anybody,” I tell them. “And I’m here because of Drew Barrymore.”

**

The next morning I stay in bed and watch a local cable access segment called “Hawaiian Word of the Day.” I repeat mahalo (thank you) and Maui no kai ‘oi (Maui is the best) until I am ready to practice them on the hotel maid. I get dressed and take a drive to famous Honolua Bay, where I bathe in the warm, clear waters. I’ve left my travelers checks and credit card in the room, and, anyway, that Visa’s been maxed out since college. I am growing bold and brave.

On day three, Javier and I decide to rent surf boards. The swells are low, and the waves are mushy, but I stand up on the board for what I’m sure is a good ten seconds (4.5 by Javier’s account) and throw my arms triumphantly up in the air. And fall off the board with a fantastic splash. Seconds later, I spot a shark, its mottled-blue fin cutting a cylindrical shape in the water. I shriek and flail my arms wildly like a bad B-movie actress, the theme song to Jaws drumming in my ears. I am moments away from becoming fish food. I am going to die on this trip.

The shark turns out to be a harmless sea turtle, bobbing playfully up and down for breath, and I make it to shore alive. But I am scarred by the experience. I am now officially afraid of sharks (sea turtles). I see a rock in the water and I think it’s a shark. I see my shadow, I think it’s a shark. Seaweed. Shark. Sailboat. Shark. I spend the next day swimming close to shore, alongside an elderly couple in rubber bathing caps, hoping that if a shark does attack, it’ll eat them first (I admit, this is very un-Drew).

Day four I hop from the heated pool to the foamy ocean. I observe people’s tan lines. I watch a man in a bathing suit that says BUDWEISER across the butt read James Michener’s Hawaii (Has he read Poland in Poland, I wonder?). For dinner I go to Burger King (money running low), and watch the sun set while I wolf down my chicken sandwich (no mayo). I sip my Coke and sit for a while, and it occurs to me that I’m not at all embarrassed to be seated at an outdoor picnic table eating a five-dollar fast-food dinner when the rest of the island (or so it seems) is in the throes of mad, first-class love. That night I even turn down an offer from Javier and Keith to go clubbing in Lahaina (We’re at that precarious point in a friends-you-meet-on-vacation relationship and I don’t want them to think we’re traveling together) and, instead, watch St. Elmo’s Fire on Pay-Per-View. As the credits roll, I apply refrigerated aloe vera gel to my brown-red skin, and fall fast, fast asleep.

My last day in Maui. Napili the bellhop insists I visit Hana, a rainforest on Maui’s unspoiled eastern coast. I take off in my red Chevrolet Cavalier rental (after searching over an hour for it in the parking lot among all the other red Cavalier rentals) and head towards Hana. Along the way I pass the plantation town of Pa’ia, a windswept beach favorite of windsurfers, and stop at Twin Falls, where I sample a pure sugarcane juice shake. I hike Twin Falls’s two twin waterfalls, sloshing my way through the swampy undergrowth as cool, fresh water flows over me, and snap a few self-portraits lest I come away from this trip without any photographic evidence that I was actually in Hawaii.

The road to Hana is video game-curvy, winding its way along jagged, thousand-foot high cliffs; the entire time I’m driving I feel like I’m going to vomit up my sugarcane shake. It’s 52 miles of one-lane roads and rickety bridges and I’m stuck behind an endless line of couples that pull over to make out at every vista and snap duck-lipped selfies. After two hours of managing not to retch, I decide to turn around. I suppose a co-pilot would have come in handy, because Hana is considered by some to be paradise on earth, but I don’t really care about where I haven’t gone. Right then and there, all I want is my hotel pool, an icy-cold Coke and a Dramamine.

It’s my last night in Maui and I’m sitting on the beach, waiting for the sunset. Balmy trade winds blow lightly through my hair. My skin is sticky from the salt water and I dig my toes into the cool, plush sand. I’m writing in my journal, awaiting that maaaagical Drew Barrymore moment when the sun turns white-hot and then fiery orange and then a flash of green and then—

Gone.

The next day I say aloha to Maui. After a short inter-island flight I am sitting in a Burger King in the Honolulu Airport. It’s 6:30 p.m. and my connecting flight to Los Angeles doesn’t leave until nine. I snack on McD’s fries and fill up my cup with ice and Coke (I have $18.67 left to my name); a bird is flying around the drink dispenser, flapping its tiny wings. Through the airport window the evening sky is muted blue with leaky streaks of pink and purple. I feel oddly calm, not un-like, I imagine, Drew Barrymore feels on a daily basis. There are no boyfriends to abandon me. No obligations to go clubbing. Just me. In the airport. Eating McDonald’s. Watching a tiny bird flap its wings.

And that, mahalo, is enough.

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Malina Saval is the author of “The Secret Lives of Boys: Inside the Raw Emotional World of Male Teens” (Basic Books, 2009) and the novel “Jewish Summer Camp Mafia.” She has been a featured guest on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” Fox News, the Patt Morrison show and Tavis Smiley. Her work has been published in the Los Angeles TimesGlamourLA Weekly, the Jerusalem PostForwardVariety and “Now Write! Nonfiction: Memoir, Journalism and Creative Nonfiction Exercises from Today’s Best Writers and Teachers” (Penguin, 2010). Her website is www.MalinaSaval.com.

funny, Guest Posts

Shrinkage.

November 5, 2013

Shrinkage by Malina Saval.

There are many reasons that sleeping with my shrink would be a really bad idea, namely that he’s my shrink. My old shrink in grad school once slept with a patient and wound up getting his license suspended; if that happened to my current shrink, I’d have to switch shrinks again and I know from past experience that’s way too much effort.

My shrink is tall and athletic-looking, with eyes so blue you could dive inside them and swim a lap. He was on the varsity swim team during high school and college; his stroke was the Australian crawl. At night, I like to imagine him clawing his way through an Olympic-sized swimming pool wearing swim goggles and a green Speedo, drops of chlorinated water rolling off his pale, muscular back. My shrink is strong, virile, German. He’s got a tumbling crest of golden Gestapo-esque curls and comes from one of those upscale Midwestern suburbs with Methodist churches and lots of rosy-cheeked white people. He looks like one of those high school history book Vikings, with a small visible triangle of tangled blonde chest hair when he wears wool v-neck sweaters.

Because I’m Jewish and my shrink is everything that I’m not supposed to have, I want him even more. I like to pretend, and in various different historical periods from movies that I was forced to sit through during USC film school, that we’re madly, madly, madly in love.

In one fantasy it’s 1944. It’s winter. The end of the war is near.  I’m Jewish, he’s German, but it makes no difference. We’re standing on a dock on the shores of Hamburg late at night, the icy wind whipping through my long, smooth mane of retro Rita Hayworth curls, my bangs swept to the side, secured with a platinum-and-rhinestone hair pin (My real–life Jewfro is miraculously absent). My shrink is wearing a thick wool scarf and one of those terrific World War II-era pea coats that figure prominently in J.D. Salinger stories. My skin is dewy soft and my lipstick is perfect even though my entire family has just been wiped out by the Nazis.

“I’ve arranged a fake passport,” says my fair-haired, Aryan shrink, clutching me against his chest, guarding me from the sweeping gusts. “I’ve arranged safe travel to Sweden.”

“And what about us?” I whimper.

“Don’t worry,” he says, brushing a pear-shaped tear from my cheek. “I’ll come for you as soon as I can. We’ll be together—I promise.” He pulls me slowly toward his ripe parted mouth. “I love you,” he tells me.

And then we kiss.

In another fantasy my shrink holds me naked in his arms and that’s all that ever happens.

And then I wonder, are lapsed German Methodists from the Midwest even good at that sort of thing?

I wonder if he’s in bed with someone, or if there’s a pretty girl’s long blonde hair draped across his arm.

It’s ridiculous, I know. But I’m a ridiculous person that’s been in therapy for the past thirty years, even since I was six years old. I was a neurotic kid, my parents were constantly fighting, and I never slept. Now, I’m a neurotic adult, my husband and I are constantly fighting, and I never sleep. When my husband was away in a drug rehab program, my shrink was a place that I could go to in my head where everything was serene, peaceful, perfect. Therapy, like my escapist daydreams, has always been a constant.

I’ve told myself a thousand times that I should terminate our relationship and take up with some octogenarian Jungian with a Ph.D. from Harvard and two failed marriages behind him, but from Pasadena to Santa Monica, I’d still have to trek the two hours once a week back and forth on the 134, 101 and 405 freeways in the height of LA traffic, so I figure, what’s the difference?

Everyone knows that all the good shrinks are on the Westside.

Every Wednesday at one p.m., my heart thumps uncomfortably as I climb the stairs to his office.  Beads of sweat collect between my breasts in the crevice of D-cup cleavage. Blood rushes to that lonesome place beneath my underpants as I press the button next to his name.

He swings open his office door and motions me toward the lime green loveseat. Clean lines, metallic legs, and squared edges, it looks like it came from the set of Mad Men and, like the rest of the tidy, well-planned space with its trendy 1960’s aesthetic, makes me wonder if my shrink is gay. That and the fact that he went to the George Michael comeback concert in Vegas; saw Wicked at the Pantages and Avenue Q at the Mark Taper; and parties every New Year’s Eve with guy friends at a Palm Springs spa. Season One of American Idol he voted multiple times for Kelly Clarkson, but season eight was suspiciously anti-Adam Lambert. He also knows that baby wipes are great for treating sofa stains. And he once mentioned that he could easily eat his way through San Francisco.

Still, I’m not convinced, and I would never ask him to confirm. Because if I know for certain that my lovely German shrink is gay I’ll need to make some pretty major changes to my go-to damsel-in-distress sexual fantasies for those dim, depressing days when being married to a underemployed, sober alcoholic who recently got his 6-month chip, and raising two feral toddlers that piss in their beds and shit in the bathtub, becomes a classic textbook bore.

Technically, my shrink is a cognitive behavioral therapist, but mostly we just talk about Hall and Oats and our dogs. Occasionally, he’ll draw a diagram on the yellow legal pad he uses mostly as a prop, drafting concentric circles with the letters A (Activating Event), B (Beliefs about Activating event) and C (Consequences) inside them. Once we did an exercise where he wrote a series of open-ended sentences: When I think____ I feel______ I do_____.

I sometimes want to plug in the words and tell him exactly how I feel, but I don’t want things to change between us. I’m nervous that he’ll make me get another shrink or worse, send me home with Xeroxed copies of long, boring articles about Freud and erotic transference. Because this is where Freud gets it wrong: it has nothing to do with self-love. When you want to sleep with your therapist you really do want to sleep with your therapist. Truth is, he’s the best conversation that I have ever had.

Because my Gentile, likely-gay, flaxen-haired shrink is serious about his career and isn’t interested in throwing it away on a married girl with boundary issues, two kids and a thing for one-sided relationships, he tells me scant little about his personal life. I know his astrological sign and that he drives a Toyota hybrid. But I don’t know if he wears boxers or briefs or what he’s like going down on a girl (or boy) or whether he’s slept with anyone else in the four years that he and I have been together.

Sometimes I GOOGLE him, but nothing much comes up except lecture dates at mental health conventions, and he’s not on Facebook, which limits my access to private information considerably. He is, however, on IMDB, because, like most shrinks in Los Angeles, he used to freelance for an independent movie studio.

A couple of years back when I was a staffer at a celebrity news magazine, I found my shrink’s address using a database program favored by the CIA and entertainment reporters when tracking down stars to construct fake stories about. I only did a drive-by once—ok, twice—and quickly realized as I sped past his Mexican stucco house in the Santa Monica Canyon that psycho girl behavior is really only cute in your 20’s. Now when I happen to be in the area, I venture no further than the street perpendicular to the one he lives on.

But lest you conclude that I am completely crazy, please consider this: because my HMO doesn’t cover out of network providers, my shrink charges me on a sliding scale. Naturally, I fell a little in love with him. You would too.

Not long ago, I finally mustered the guts to ask my shrink why he doesn’t wear a wedding ring, to which he promptly responded: “Because I’m not married.” I laughed and laughed, and he kept asking what was so funny. That day, he was wearing the powder blue sweater that matches the color of his eyes and makes me want to run away with him. And for a split second, I thought about coming clean, admitting that I was madly in love with him and that I would do anything to leap into his arms. But then I had a truly frightening thought. What if my shrink is in love with me, too?

After all, that one year when I sent him a Rosh Hashanah card, he called to thank me and we spoke for five minutes on the phone, during which time I corrected his pronunciation of the Jewish holiday and he practiced it until I told him that he’d gotten it right. Another time, we saw one another in the parking lot outside his office and he waved at me and smiled; he was carrying a Brita pitcher and we both giggled a bit about what a nerd he was toting his own water to work. And then there was that time when I suggested he read a certain book on depression and not only did he read it but recommended it to his other patients. During one session when I was feeling especially down, he said to me, “I care about you.” So when he told me that he wasn’t married, I kind of freaked out. What if he told me everything there was to know about him, including the fact that he wanted to run away with me, too? What if we got to know one another outside the confines of a square office space and discovered that we didn’t like one another? What if suddenly my shrink wasn’t there for me, unconditionally, no matter what I did or what I said or how I acted, no matter how crazy it sounded?

Since then, I haven’t asked my shrink anything, because if I’m honest with myself, I’m not sure that I want to know.

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Malina Saval is the author of “The Secret Lives of Boys: Inside the Raw Emotional World of Male Teens” (Basic Books, 2009) and the novel “Jewish Summer Camp Mafia.” She has been a featured guest on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” Fox News, the Patt Morrison show and Tavis Smiley. Her work has been published in the Los Angeles TimesGlamourLA Weekly, the Jerusalem PostForwardVariety and “Now Write! Nonfiction: Memoir, Journalism and Creative Nonfiction Exercises from Today’s Best Writers and Teachers” (Penguin, 2010). Her website is www.MalinaSaval.com.

Birthday, Delight, Guest Posts

Top 10 Life Lessons Learned In My 48 Years by Lynn Hasselberger.

May 1, 2013

I woke up today and…voilà! I’m 48 years old.

Born in the middle of the night, two weeks late, I violently entered the world at nine and a half pounds with a huge pile of dark hair on my head. (I got stuck, my mom hemorrhaged and, well, we’re all still alive to talk about it).

Gaping at the large feet and hands attached to this red thing that was supposed to be a baby, my mom was convinced that I was going to be a replica of my six foot one, large-boned aunt (sister to my dad, who is small boned).

My parents couldn’t agree on a name, so I remained nameless for a day or two. Referred to as the baby or, more hopefully, “Baby.” (I need to ask more questions about this fact that I learned only a holiday or two ago after my mom drank one glass of wine too many. Sorry, mom, this is my story. And it’s actually pretty humorous. I’m not trying to call you out as a bad mom).

Eventually they agreed upon Lynn. My dad’s name is E. Leonard and, at the time, they called him Lenny (the  initial “E” for  Elmer, so Lenny was definitely the better choice).

In my early years, family referred to me as Lynn Anne. Later, you can imagine the confusion. If you can’t, allow me to explain: Lenny got older and became Len. I didn’t like to be called Lynn Anne, so, thusly (I’ve always wanted to use that word in one of my posts!) I morphed into Lynn. During my teen years, when people phoned for my dad and I answered, trouble ensued. “Is Len there?” they would ask, pronouncing my dad’s name as (you guessed it!) Lynn. “This is Lynn,” I would say. “No Len!” They’d insist, still pronouncing my dad’s name as Lynn.

To top it off, I have an Aunt Lynne and a cousin Linda. Hey, it was almost worse. I could have been Cressie—my grandma (my  dad’s mom) wanted them to name me after her deceased sister Cressida.

So, I’ve never been a big fan of my name. Except when it turns into Lynnie, a nickname that some friends use on too rare an occasion.

Forty-eight years later—my baby fat dispersed properly with the exception of my knees where it seems to collect—I am who I am today. Lynn Hasselberger. (Side note: Just a few days ago, I celebrated my 20th anniversary. Before marriage, I was plain old Lynn Johnson. I could not wait to get married in order to jazz up my boring name. When I met my husband, I immediately thought: Nope, he’s not the one. I mean, Hasselberger?)

I’ve survived many struggles—from eating disorders and infertility… to (gulp) infidelity—and enjoyed quite a few triumphs, blessings and overall good times.

I’m wiser now (quite possibly, most of that wisdom came during the last eight years) and am learning to accept the fact that I’m aging. A fact I found difficult to accept only two years ago.

Enough about me! Here are the ten top things I learned so far:

1. Rich or poor, happiness comes from within. I’ve struggled with finances along the way (and still today after my husband’s two and a half year unemployment—he’s been working for over a year now!—unexpected medical expenses and the investment into my business that was never and never will be returned, and that we’re still paying off) and enjoyed “better” times when we were both working full time, each making six figures. I wasnot happier when we had more money, but we were able to eat out a lot, travel… and when something in the house broke we could fix it immediately with the only stress being which contractor to choose.

I’m happy for the most part right now. Give me some more money and my shoulders will soften, we’ll sleep easier and we can finally take that real family vacation that doesn’t require camping at someone’s house. A slight tick in happiness will probably occur but can only be sustained with what’s in our hearts.

And if we start making oodles of money, we’d be smarter with it. I wouldn’t buy that $250 pair of shoes (they lasted more than 10 years, so you could say it was a good buy) but I would treat myself to a massage and cleaning service weekly.

2. We have to accept ourselves, not try to be what other people think we should be. Over the years I’ve heard that I have to calm down my hair, my lips are too thin, I’m too thin, I need to loosen up and get out more (okay, I’d like to change that about myself), I’m too quiet, I should be this or that.

I’ve also imagined what others might think of me and what they think I should be. And tried to fit in. Not wild enough? Not fun enough? Not smart enough? Not pretty enough? Not successful enough?

Source: google.com via Kelly on Pinterest

I used to try to prove I was those things in order for others to like me more.

But now I think: So the f*ck what? I am me. If you don’t like me as I am, move along. Nothing to see here.

Or deal with this:

I’m not a big fan of large groups and big, loud parties. My hair is at times frizzy or just tossed into a ponytail. I can be quirky. I  don’t watch reality shows. I find it important to continue to learn and be open-minded. I do the best and love as much as I can and forgive you no matter what (unless you kill my cat or do something even more heinous, but even then…). I will  show off my big ugly feet with their weird long monkey toes and even paint them a crazy color on occasion. I will get stressed at laundry. I will run outdoors as long as my legs and body will cooperate. I will mostly eat healthy food. I will tell you if I’m feeling low or about what bugs me. I will utter non sequitors often. I will wear my pj’s some days when I work at home and occasionally nag. I will be quiet at times. I will be cautious if I don’t know you well enough yet. I will stop at one or two drinks. I like to be in bed reading by 9 p.m. I will turn down your invitation sometimes not because I don’t appreciate you but because I simply feel like hanging out at home because I’m just worn out. My house will not be spotless and I can’t guarantee shaved armpits on a daily basis. I’m spiritual but not into organized religion and you’ll never witness me squashing a spider. I’m a tree hugger and believe humans are accelerating climate change by emitting more carbon into the atmosphere than the oceans and vegetation can absorb, throwing off they way the climate system would work without our interference. And unless you’re a climate scientist, you can’t convince me otherwise. I voted for Obama.

And I’m okay with that. If you’re not, then so be it.

Source: Uploaded by user via Elizabeth on Pinterest

3. Aging isn’t bad. It’s a badge of honor. Every day we wake up is truly amazing. I have to admit, I tried “filler” on my face a couple years ago. I was a) trying to mask the horizontal lines that were forming around my lips and b) at battle with my thin lips. Since they were already poking me with a painful needle, I allowed them to fill in the crease above my chin and soften my laugh lines. The changes made me feel more attractive (after all the nasty swelling and bruising vacated my face) but didn’t make me feel any happier.

I was in a mid-life freak out zone at the time. Thanks to my husband’s layoff, my adventure into unnatural fillers was put to an end.

We’re all getting older. That means wrinkles, getting tired faster and finding long hairs in weird places. In preparation for the years ahead, I’m learning to embrace these facts. Although I’m a bit concerned about howmenopause will tamper with my mood and wreak havoc in other unknown ways.

Self-disclosure: I cover my grays, though, and that’s something I haven’t found the courage to walk away from. It may take me another 10 years or more. But definitely, by 70, I will let my hair go.

P.S. Fillers and hair coloring are not good for us or the planet. I am admittedly not a 100 percent flawless tree hugger.

4. Holding onto anger is worse than whatever caused the anger in the first place. It ages us and wastes our energy. Forgiveness is key.

Source: Uploaded by user via Lynn on Pinterest

5. When sh*t happens, you’ll know who your true friends are. How? Because they’ll still be around. And if they disappear, it’s probably for the best. (A couple years ago, I told a person I considered a good friend that I was feeling depressed. I never heard from her again. She didn’t return my messages and even disconnected from me on LinkedIn!)

Absorb the goodness your friends (and even your enemies) have to offer while they’re in your life… you’ll be better for it.

Source: via Tanith on Pinterest

6. Exfoliation is important.
Not only are my feet f*ckin’ ugly, they’re dry. It wasn’t until sometime after college that I learned about pedicures and exfoliation. I treat myself to a pedicure at the turn of every season and otherwise exfoliate my feet right here in the comfort of my own home. I also exfoliate the rest of my fine self with loofah during most showers. Afterward, I apply raw shea butter mixed with an essential oil. Quite the process and not something I have time for every day, believe me!

On a more positive note, I appreciate my feet. Although they can’t dance and are often clutzy, they have served me well all these years. I think they, in turn, appreciate the exfoliation.

7. I am not meant to drink more than two drinks. I try to tell this to people when they say, “Oh come on, have fun! Have another drink. Live a little.” (Who knew peer pressure would live on past the age of 15?) Believe me, by avoiding a third drink, I  will have more fun tomorrow and the next day. Drinking one drink is actually enough. And to think, back in college and into my twenties, I partied hard most days of the week. How did I graduate, much less survive? Now drinking just makes me sleepy and wakes me up in the middle of the night.

8. I don’t have to do anything.

This has been my new mantra for the last few days ago and I hope I always remember it. I had been waking up anxious, thinking of all the things I had to do that day. I’d write down the top three things that really had to get done—although, honestly, the world would have carried on without me completing those things—and put all the rest on a longer list which I could pull from if I happened complete the three things and found myself looking for something to do. Invariably, all the tasks plus worries about finance and other stuff I had forgotten to put on the list would jumble around in my head and paralyze me.

Recently, my husband and I spent two nights in the city for our anniversary. It took quite a bit to get myself out the door and onto that train (we don’t do much to avoid spending money!) but once I was at the hotel, clothes put neatly away in the drawers, everything I had to do left my mind. Well, not all at once. But by day two, I was carefree. We didn’t go around the city spending money like drunken sailors. We ate and walked and took in the scene. I even gave breakfast to three homeless men.

Nothing fell apart during those two days. I had fun!

This led to an epiphany. I don’t have to do anything. I don’t have to wake up to thoughts of what I have to do that day. I don’t have to stress  about anything.

Telling myself I don’t have to do anything—a simple mind trick, similar to believing in fairies who will clean the kitchen and bathrooms in the middle of the night—has reduced my stress. And I’m more productive. My mind is clear. I’m approaching my life differently, from a place of abundance—look how full my life is! I have a family that I love, which leads to a couple of messes and extra laundry. How great is that?! How lucky am I?

I just have to follow my passion. My passion doesn’t have to be on a list.

Yes, I have responsibilities, but waking every morning with all them crashing against each other inside my skull until I can put them on a list and begin cramming them into a day just doesn’t work.

I don’t have to do anything. And my mind believes that! My anxiety? Extinguished.

I sure hope my mind doesn’t realize what I’m up to!

Source: oprah.com via Lynn on Pinterest

9. Food is fuel and medicine. Exercise makes me feel better.

It’s quite simple. I’ve written about my strange and evolving relationship with food, with self-medication disguised as a sugar tooth and eating disorder. Now I know—healthy food and exercise makes me feel better. And, please, I do eat crap once in a while including a pint of ice cream every week.

10. Time flies and every moment is a reward for this thing we call life.

Even the most unpleasant, f*cked up days are a gift.

I go through periods in my life, when it feels like time is slipping away and I feel myself grasping at it as if I could slow it down or stop it  altogether.

But squandering moments or stressing over our perceived lack of time is a waste of energy. I know this from experience. Chasing time is exhausting work!

I’ve decided this very moment to expand upon my mind trick (#8) and tell myself I have all the time I need. Ha! It’s also all the time I’ll ever have available to me. It is precious.

We need to embrace the good and the bad. After the bad, it could get worse, but then it will get better. Or… it might not. But no matter what happens, odds are in your favor that there’s someone else out there who’s experiencing something worse.

In the moments we have, we need to find a way to make a difference, no matter how small. Inspire by sharing our passions. Or simply smile at someone, wave at our neighbor, support a friend when they’re down. Sign a petition for human rights or the planet.

Be grateful for this moment. And the one that just passed.

Live the moment. Get to know it. Learn from it. For it will inevitably be whisked away before you can say “Time flies!” (By the way, time does not fly if you’re serving it.)

And then we die.

Of course I’ve learned much more. But 10 is a nice round number.

The rest I’ll leave up to your imagination.

P.S. I’m grateful to everyone in my life and I hope to enjoy many more moments with all of you.

Happy birthday to everyone!


 

Lynn Hasselberger lives in Chicagoland with her son, husband and two cats. She loves sunrises, running, yoga, chocolate, reading and writing, and has a voracious appetite for comedy. The founder of myEARTH360.com, Lynn also writes for her blog I Count for myEARTH. She’s a treehugger and social media addict who you’ll most likely find tweeting excessively and obsessively (@LynnHasselbrgr@myEARTH360and @IC4ME) or posting on facebook. She hopes to make the world a better place, have more fun, re-develop her math skills and overcome her fear of public speaking. Like her writing? Subscribe to her posts.

**This post originally appeared on Elephant Journal and is reposted here with permission.
The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for the next cleanse on Jan 11, 2016. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the holiday season. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation. Click photo to book.

The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for the next cleanse on Jan 11, 2016. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the holiday season. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation. Click photo to book.

Guest Posts

The Nudist.

January 28, 2013

He sits across from me, his cock on a chair. Cutting and eating. I watch him, knowing full well that he is wearing no pants.

This is not unusual. I am not awed by his penis lying on the kitchen chair.

He doesn’t even bother to slice the bananas really thin. He just sort of slops them on the chunk of peanut butter and throws the other slice of bread on top. The son takes the sandwich and twists the bread downward because he won’t eat it unless the bread is smashed down into the peanut butter. He is very used to his father walking around without any clothes on. It doesn’t seem to phase him. He’s only seven so he probably doesn’t realize that its not the norm for his father to be making sandwiches for him while he’s wearing no pants, especially when I am also in the room.  (And the I is me, a friend staying at her friend’s apartment while the friend is out of tow

The man eats his own sandwich and most of his son’s, as he absently clips articles from auto magazines. He is making a scrapbook for his shop. He has an auto shop, which he originally started from the garage out of the house he grew up in. Now he is solely a Mercedes specialist, but back when he started I think he pretty much worked on anything with wheels. Like, even bicycles.

He is only wearing a blue work shirt with the name Roger written across it in red cursive.

I haven’t decided yet which is more disturbing: going around completely nude or simply wearing a shirt that barely comes to your midriff and a pair of socks? Actually, it is more subtle to be completely nude rather than stop abruptly right before the genitals, causing one an awkward moment before one can regain one’s composure and look away.  

Still, I haven’t decided which degree of nudity of your friend’s “partner”  is worse: partial or complete.

I know he is testing me. He’s waiting to see how long he can walk around naked before I actually say something about it. The more time I spend here, the more clothing he sheds. A while back he walked around in his underwear. Then he walked around in a towel. I can’t quite remember exactly when he made this bold transition to genital exposure.  

He’s waiting for me to acknowledge his nakedness, sitting here at the kitchen table, reading and cutting, going back and forth to the refrigerator, eating, sighing loudly. He gets up, goes to the refrigerator, peers in, sees nothing, looks at me to see what I’m doing. He sits back down and cuts more cars out of Auto World. Five minutes later he gets up and does the same routine all over again. Since his girlfriend has been out of town he hasn’t bothered to buy any new groceries. (How could he think something new has gotten into the refrigerator since he last looked?)   

I stare at the dishes and the other things in the kitchen. I don’t want to get up and leave because then Roger will think he has gotten my attention. And if I leave, then I have to say something to him, at least a “Goodbye Roger.”

If I have to say anything at all to him I know I will look down by accident. I want to make him think I could care less what he’s wearing or isn’t wearing.  I want him to think that I did not even notice his lack of pants.

 I have to remember to clean up the kitchen and restore it to its spotless condition. Roger said he talked to Claire and that she’d be home from Texas in 2 days. I wonder if he told her that he has been staying here with me. They are going through one of their “separations” so I don’t know why he came over the day after Claire left. 

It seems he has apparently moved back in. I bet when he called her he “forgets” to mention that he’s living here (with me).

Before she left, she told me that Roger and the kids were going to be staying at his apartment. She said it would be nice for me to have the place all to myself for three weeks, but that I had to keep it neat. Then she gave me a little slip of paper, which I have since lost. The paper had Roger’s phone number to his new apartment on it. 

I don’t think I need his telephone number to get in touch with him.

He probably told Claire that he has been stopping by her apartment to check up on how well I’m holding the place up or to make sure I haven’t burnt the place down. I really should say something to him about why he is here.  

He makes me feel uncomfortable and young. 

 Maybe I’ll put it in a really subtle way, like, Hey Rog, I thought you and C. broke up? Weren’t you and the kids supposed to be staying at your new apartment while she was out of town? Why are you here? And why don’t you go put on a nice warm pair of pants?

I am a wimp. 

I’d rather sit here and feel uncomfortable than muster up the guts to question him. He probably told Claire that I left dishes in her sink, that I did not pick up after myself, that I drank her Japanese beer, and that I threw too much food down the garbage disposal and he had to help me fix it. When he told her he had to help me fix the garbage disposal, I bet he said he had to come over especially for that. There’s no way he told her that he simply rolled out of her bed, completely naked, when he heard a fork being ground up in the sink. 

He had not even bothered to put anything on as he reached his hand down into the disposal system and pulled out a fork and an avocado pit. 

I stare at the Japanese calendar on the kitchen wall for the thirteenth time, as I have done twelve other times this afternoon in order to avoid looking at Roger. I pretend I can read the Japanese lettering at the bottom of the calendar, which is probably nothing other than the artist’s signature. During one of Claire and Roger’s numerous separations, one that had actually lasted for a whole year, Claire’d had a Japanese boyfriend.  I think this calendar was a gift that boyfriend had given her on their first date. 

Roger will never marry Claire.

If he was going to marry her, he would’ve done so by now. They have been together for ten years. They have two children. He just isn’t the marrying type, he tells her. 

So Claire keeps that calendar hanging on the wall, hoping it will make Roger jealous. 

For ten whole minutes I stare at the month of July on the wall. It has now been August for twenty-eight days. 

I think Claire still hopes Roger will want marry her.

Roger stands up again. This time he wants to know, should he put the peanut butter away, or, would I like some?

I look up, completely forgetting my supposed absorption in the Japanese calendar, and find his crotch level to my head. No, no,  I tell him. Please just put it away.

After Claire returned home from Texas, she and Roger got into a big fight about respect and trust and stuff. I only caught some of it because I left to come back home a few hours after she got home from her trip.

That was a year ago.

           ****************************************************

I talked to Claire today. I just remembered her birthday was nine days ago so I called her. She tells me California is doing great, and, as usual, I tell her that someday she has to come visit me in New York.

Although I know she never will. 

She has this hang up about New York. She says she hates the East Coast. Often I remind her that she has never been to the East Coast. You have never been east of Oregon, I tell her. 

Roger has just moved out again. This time it’s for good, she said. She always says that this time it’s for good.  I held back from saying that that is what she said the last time. I hate when people say things like,“ I told you so.”               

All of a sudden, after I hung up with Claire, I get this incredible urge to call her back, to ask her if she still has that Japanese calendar. I can see that calendar before my eyes, with its picture of a garden and its Japanese lettering.

I should have just taken a long look at Roger’s penis when I had the chance last summer. 

Because I’m having trouble. I feel obsessed.

Every time I see a Japanese person, or eat Japanese food, I associate it with Roger. The Japanese calendar was the thing I stared at every time I didn’t want to look at Roger’s nakedness. 

I should have just looked and gotten it over with. 

She still has the calendar. She says she wants to stop playing games with Roger, that she admits she still has the outdated calendar hanging on the wall to make Roger jealous of her old boyfriend. 

She says she knows how much I liked it and that she is sending it to me. 

I thought women nudists would be easier on the eyes

I thought women nudists would be easier on the eyes

(written when I was 19 years old xo jen pastiloff)

funny, MindBodyGreen

Sexorcism.

October 10, 2012

That’s right, you read it right.

Apparently my husband and I had one last night.

At least, according to the note pinned to our front door.

I can assure you that it was not Robert and I. (Okay, I can’t really assure you but I am telling you.) Trust me, I would be proud if said sexorcism was ours.

I was sick last night and in bed with A Visit from the Goon Squad and Rob was eating salt-n-vinegar chips and watching soccer. I was asleep early with tissues in my nostrils because my nose wouldn’t stop running. Sexy, right?

Rob told me the couple in the building across way were going at it really loudly. Naturally, with my hearing loss, I did not hear. (I miss out on all the fun.)

I wish I had the courage to leave a note like that on someone’s door.

(Actually, no. I don’t.)

Nonetheless, the note made my day. I am going to leave it there.

Love, Jen-the-sex-o-maniac

Jennifer Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Salon, and more. Jen leads her signature Manifestation Retreats & Workshops all over the world. The next retreat is to Ojai, Calif over Labor Day. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up: SeattleLondon, Atlanta, South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Tucson & The Berkshires (guest speaker Canyon Ranch.) She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.

Next Manifestation workshop is London July 6. Book here.

 

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