Browsing Tag

happiness

Guest Posts, Making Shit Happen, Self Love

On A Scale Of One To Ten

February 25, 2019
10

By Lisa Todd

I’m in the kitchen making guacamole when Diana calls to me from the family room. “Hey,” she asks, “How are you doing today?” I sigh as I turn on the faucet and watch the water run over my hands while I thought. How was I doing?

I sighed again. “Well,” I started. “On a scale of 1 to 10, either 10 being the best you could feel and 1 being the worst you could feel, how are you feeling?” Diana said. We’d used that scale of 1 to 10 since her surgery 9 years ago (was it already 9 years ago?) when the nurses at the hospital would ask what Diana’s pain level was like. “How is your pain today?” they’d ask and I would cringe inwardly, thinking of the hardware recently installed in her to stop her vertebrae from twisting and turning into a painful S shape. Over the years, the pain scale took its place in our family vernacular. And now my daughter uses it today to check on me. I smile to myself at her kind heart, thinking not for the first time that I’m a lucky mom to have her in my life.

“I guess I’m at a 5,” I said, thinking about my day. One woman who spent 20 minutes reading instructions and asking me, “Am I missing anything?” after each step of the instructions. Another woman who didn’t like my instructions and so complained to her cohort leader that “the woman in licensure wasn’t giving me a straight answer.” The coworker who graciously spends part of her summer work hours helping me navigate my busy days and comes into my office to cry and rage about the stressful job she’s in. The stacks of licensure requests that stress me every day because I feel I’m not getting through them fast enough. Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts, Letting Go

The Seven Stages of Alone

July 23, 2017
alone

By Jenna Tico

Like most roads to hell, it is paved with vision boards. Watered with four-dollar wine, and the metaphorical blood of the men who have “wronged you.” There is at least one volume of sad poetry; probably bought on impulse while waiting in line at the bookstore, impossibly dense text in one hand (“I’ll finally have time to read Kafka!”) and a cheap spiral notebook in the other. Later, you will label this your “INTENTION JOURNAL,” and stare at it each night before going to bed; with every intention of cataloging your intentions, but instead, watching four hours of Lifetime original movies. Which like most roads to hell, are paved with vision boards.

Stage One: Shock

It’s a Nicholas Sparks world, and we’re all just buying tampons in it; and at some point, you probably meant to be here. You probably caught a movie (or twelve) that taught you that, to live the life of your dreams, you must have one of two things:

  1. an easily accessible window, should John Cusack arrive with a boombox, or
  2. a self-induced period of solitude in your twenties; preferably in a rent-controlled apartment; preferably one with exposed brick.

And at some point, the sea of boyfriends inevitably parts; in its place, their echoey chorus of “I’m just not ready” and the expanse of that which you always thought you thought you wanted: Alone. With no end in sight. A space that, while sanctioned by sitcom, remains exhaustingly absent from the cultural consensus on womanhood. Everyone tells you to spend time alone. No one seems to understand, nor believe, that you are.  That the beast of your life leading up to this point, every dream you had for the people you’d loved, has sunk its teeth into your apartment. Noticeably absent of exposed brick. Likely missing several essential qualities, such as street parking, and glue. Continue Reading…

Binders, Guest Posts, healing

This Is Your Brain on Knitting.

February 6, 2016

By Bernadette Murphy 

The New York Times recently focused on all the ways handcrafts like knitting and crocheting offer health benefits – from reduction in daily stress and to giving knitters a sense of purpose, to weight control, and even staving off a decline in brain function as we age.

Many have speculated that knitting itself constitutes a genuine meditative practice, something I was curious to explore. In the more traditional forms of meditation, those typically associated with Eastern religions, meditation is defined as a state of “bare attention.” As Ron Nairn puts it in What Is Meditation? meditation is “a highly alert and skillful state of mind because it requires one to remain psychologically present and ‘with’ whatever is happening in and around one without adding to or subtracting from it in any way.”

According to Psychology Today, the physical act of meditation can consist of sitting quietly and focusing on your breath, a word, or a phrase; the meditator may also be walking or standing.

The image we all carry of a person tied into lotus-position knots, sitting in a candlelit, incense-choked room, hands held upward, saying “ohm” in a low, sonorous voice may be a limited construct. There are countless ways, it seems, to practice meditation.

Researchers agree that the practice of meditation has untold health benefits–improvements that can be gleaned from as little as ten minutes of meditation (or knitting) on a regular basis. These benefits include increased alpha waves (the relaxed brain waves) and decreased anxiety and depression. Researchers at Harvard Medical School used MRI technology to monitor participants’ brain activity and learned that meditation activates the portion of the brain responsible for the autonomic nervous system (the regulator of bodily functions outside our conscious control) including digestion and blood pressure “These are also the functions that are often compromised by stress,” Cary Barbor reported in Psychology Today. “It makes sense, then, that modulating these functions would help to ward off stress-related conditions such as heart disease, digestive problems, and infertility.” Continue Reading…

Binders, Dear Life., Guest Posts

Dear Life: Am I Falling In Love or Running Scared?

August 7, 2015

Dear Life,

About five months ago I met this amazing man and we kind of fell into a long distance relationship. I am in grad school in the US and he’s in the UK here he owns his own business. He’s smart, achingly kind, adventurous, funny, charming and empathetic. I’m really attracted to him. He’s basically everything I’ve been looking for in a partner and then some.

Yet here is what is happening: I feel like squirming, like a fish in a net. I find myself rocked by doubts. But they are usually not about him- but about me. I am constantly worried if he likes me, if he finds me boring, if he’s going to wake up one day and realise being with me is too much work and I’m not worth it.

I spent my spring break with him where we went away to this romantic little weekend in the countryside and instead of feeling a calm sense of peace with him all I felt was panic. Panic that he would be bored, panic that I was not interesting. I couldn’t shake it. I was wracked by anxiety.

I also find myself nitpicking with him. For example, I worry that when we discuss ideas we only discuss them for 20 minutes- not an hour like I used to with my ex. I want him to tell me, with words, how he feels about me like: all the time. Even though he SHOWS me in a million different ways.

There’s a lot I could tell you about myself to provide some background context on who I am and why I feel this way. I guess the important thing is, I know my shit. I know what I do in the world that is incompatible with falling in love and I’ve come a long way in terms of being able to manage that same shit. I’ve struggled with anxiety, I’ve had a loving albeit chaotic childhood and I’m a very type-A, high achieving person. And I feel that today, after a LOT of work, I’m starting to feel OK with who I am.

I know that I have a hard time feeling vulnerable and truthfully, I know he does too. I know that I tend to keep one foot on the ground and I SO want to change that. And I feel like I could fall in love with this new person if I would just let myself. But here’s what I don’t know:

Is my anxiety self inflicted, is it a product of our long distance or is it because something is fundamentally not right with us? How can I possibly know when I feel unsure in any relationship that I’m in? How can I not throw away a good thing?

I want to trust my gut, but my gut and my anxious spiraling brain can sometimes feel like the same thing and only one is worth paying attention to.

Yours,

Falling in love or running scared?

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Self Image, Self Love, Yoga

On Being Fat, Yoga Teacher Training, and the Right To Be Happy

May 22, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Anna Falkowski

In the back of Yoga Journal, lodged between ads for Himalayan salts and yoga retreats, was a photo of Ana Forrest, a yoga teacher famous in the yoga community. She was in handstand, naked from the waist up. The photo was a back view. Her muscled arms and opened hands pressed into rock ledge. Her bare legs stretched wide in a straddle and spread toes reached to an endless sky. A single black braid fell forward and touched the ground.

When I saw the photo, I felt a pang of longing. I too wanted a body that could do this. A body strong with each muscle defined. Even more, I wanted to be fearless and trusting.

In my head, I say, I have the right to be fat. I have the right to be fat.

I am a full-bodied yoga teacher. I take comfort in the fact there are others out there, luscious like me. In the yoga world, the majority of teachers are lean. On bad days, I look out at the students in the yoga class I am about to teach, and ask myself, Dont they see how fat I am? Why are they taking yoga from me?

Yoga is practiced primarily by women, yet it has strong patriarchal roots and leanings, which means holding up thinness as a measurement of yogic aptitude and success. It’s the order of things.
Sometimes I wonder if being a fat yoga teacher is silently scoffed at. A suspicion that he or she is not doing the work. We must be lazy or sneaking processed foods. Most likely both. Yoga tops can not contain us. We fill out our lycra pants with hips and asses, yet we teach respectable and popular classes despite the fact we’re not skinny.
There are days I love my curves. Each one a chunk of wondrous love and an expression of my sexiness, aliveness and my ability to get down and dirty with a cheeseburger and glass of wine.
As far as skinny goes, I have been down there, in the palace, once or twice in my life, but only because of diet pills, smoking, over-exercising or sticking my finger down my throat. I cut out my risky behavior once I became a mom. But my thin moments are full- color photographs in my memory catalogued between power and acceptance. The truth is I was only ever skinny for a few hours at a time, and then my weight would creep back up again.

Catching a glimpse of Ana Forrest in the back of the glossy trade magazine sent sparks through my nervous system, so I signed up to take her thirty day course, even though I already held advanced yoga teaching certifications. I craved change.

I sat with my therapist a few weeks before the training was to begin and told her I hoped to let go of my body image problems once and for all. Maybe this training would do it. And then I regressed. “If I just didn’t have this belly, I could be happy.” My mid-section had become a bundle of permanent stretch marks, scar tissue and loose skin due to all the times I gained and lost large amounts of fat.

“It’s so unfair.” I hated the way I sounded. Whiny and superficial. Even to me. Especially to me.
I would have preferred to be swallowed by the therapist’s soft couch. Instead I clutched a trendy printed pillow on my lap.

My therapist, a PhD, who never wore the same outfit twice, nodded her head in agreement. “Maybe this would be a good time to get the tummy tuck you keep mentioning. Just get it done and over with. Right after the training. Then you can move on.”

That’s how I ended up in the upscale office of a plastic surgeon, with a brand new visa card with a zero-balance and a $10,000 limit hidden in my wallet. My insides were whirling. The wall-to-ceiling mirrors reflected back a woman with a rounded belly in jeans and a red flowered top. My flip-flops were noisy as I made my way across the marble floor.

In my head, I say, I have the right to be skinny. I have the right to be skinny.

The plastic surgeon was a tall man with big teeth and a spring-time tan. He held a red permanent magic marker in his strong yet manicured hands and waved the marker around as he spoke. As he drew a dotted line along my belly, hips, and even across the top of my ass, to show me where he would remove the fat from, he told me the incision would be tiny.

“In a couple of months, once you heal, you will be able to wear a bikini. Of course how good you will look depends on whether you are a cadillac or a chevy. It all depends on what model you are underneath. I can only do so much.”

I looked down at my recently painted and pedicured toes the color of cruises and cotton candy. When I had gotten them done the day before, I hoped he would notice I appreciated details and pretty things. Now I felt my own foolishness slap my face.
“You are going to love the results,” he said as he put the cap back on the marker. He was giddy with himself. “All my clients do.”

Later that evening, sitting with my husband, I told him I thought the plastic surgeon was an ass. “But he does really good work, so I think I’m gonna go for it. After the training.” I looked at Matt for approval.

Then he said the thing my husband always says. “If you need to do this, I support you all the way. But Annie, I could care less what your belly looks like. Just make sure that whatever you do, you continue to have sex with me.”
He leaned over and kissed me while his hands groped under my shirt for my belly. “God, you’re hot.” he said.

Acutely aware of the red lines that would not wash off and delineated my muffin top, it took everything not to pull away from the man who loved me.

In my head, I say, Stay. Stay.

The first day of Ana Forrest’s yoga teacher training was as I suspected. I was the largest women in the room. It’s not that I’m obese, but I carry rolls and padding in a crowd that had nothing extra to spare. It was a significant difference. This did not stop me from walking past every single size-two yogi and plunking my yoga mat down right in front of the teacher. Ana Forrest looked directly at me. I made eye contact back. For the next 30 days I would put my mat down in the same exact spot and every day we would greet each other with our eyes. Continue Reading…

Dear Life., Guest Posts

Dear Life: Awfully Successful or Dirt Cheap Happy?

March 28, 2015

Welcome to Dear Life: An Unconventional Advice Column.

Your questions get sent to various authors from around the world to answer (and please keep sending because I have like 567 writers that want to answer your burning questions. Click here to submit a letter or email dearlife@jenniferpastiloff.com.) Different writers offer their input when it comes to navigating through life’s messiness. We are “making messy okay.” Today’s letter is answered by

Send us your questions because there loads of crazy authors waiting to answer ‘em. Just kidding, they aren’t crazy.

Well okay, maybe a little. Aren’t we all? xo, Jen Pastiloff, Crazy Beauty Hunter. ps, I will see you in Princeton and Philly in a couple weeks! Philly is sold out but NJ has 5 spots. I am so excited that so many of you are coming to my summer Tuscany retreat. We are almost at wait list so book soon if you want to join!

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that's it! Summer or Fall 2015. It is LIFE CHANGING!

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that’s it! Summer or Fall 2015. It is LIFE CHANGING!

 

Dear Life,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Signed, Awfully Successful or Dirt Cheap Happy?

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Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Marriage, Relationships

10 Tips For Staying Married Forever.

September 30, 2014

By Jeanne Faulkner.

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

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

 

My husband and I just celebrated our 32nd anniversary.

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

Gratitude, Guest Posts, How To, Inspiration

The Many Dangers of Complaining.

August 23, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-blackBy Karen Salmansohn

Everybody talks about the importance of appreciation – how it’s such a big-time happiness booster. Truth be told, appreciation very much deserves all the attentive, flattering PR it receives!

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But today I’d like to discuss with you the dangers of appreciation’s extreme opposite: depreciation. First of all, let me state clearly that “depreciation” is not simply the absence of appreciation. It’s actually the presence of focusing on problems, flaws and disappointments. Some standard definitions of depreciation: to lessen the value of; to belittle; to represent as being of less merit. There are a lot of people out there who are depreciators – walking around, looking for things to complain about – even when they have many reasons to rejoice. They speak in sentences that begin with “but” or “if only” or “what if.” As a result, depreciators wind up devaluing a lot of good stuff they should be feeling quite giddy about! By decreasing the value of what’s around them – they decrease the love, joy and inner calm they feel in their lives.   Continue Reading…

5 Most Beautiful Things, Awe & Wonder, beauty, Delight

Better Than Magic.

August 6, 2014

by Jen Pastiloff.

I watched this adorable old man cross the street by my house just now as I was running. It took him a lot time. He had a walker. I stopped running and waited for him.

“Can I ask you a question? What made you happy today?”

Silence.

Me: Do you speak English? Where are you from?

Him: I am Armenian.

Me: What made you happy today?

He laughs. He’s got all his teeth.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts

If You Have (Or Have Had) Toxic Relationships of Any Kind, Read This Now. By Karen Salmansohn.

March 21, 2014

By Karen Salmanshohn.

poster-desperation-or-determination.jpg

Warning! This story includes a naughty word – however –  this word is necessary  – because its shock-value is what catapulted me to change my life. I share this naughty word now with only the most loving intentions – hoping it might be an empowering caffeinated jolt to any sleeping spirits out there!

About a decade and a half ago I used to joke that for me all dating should be re-named ‘blind-dating” – and instead of saying I was “seeing someone right now” – I should be more honest, and say, “I’m dimly viewing someone.”

I remember I was once “dimly viewing” this particular guy. I’ve written about him before  (here in an article about good compromise vs. bad compromise) . I explained how every time I said this guy’s name, my girlfriends would sing the theme song to Batman. Not because this man looked great in black Spandex tights. No, no. It was because he was a bad man.

“Dadadadadadada Bad-man! Bad-man!” my girlfriends would sing, right after I’d finish telling a particularly bad Bad-man episode—of which there were many.

Let’s call this ex of mine “Bruce Wayne” – to protect his not-so-innocent secret identity.

Today I want to share something I never told you about Bruce.

Ready?

Bruce’s “dadadadadada bad-behavior” began very early on – a few weeks into our relationship.

Yep, right out of the gate Bruce displayed what I felt were highly controlling and paranoically jealous behaviors.

Yet I continued to date him.

I even went away with Bruce for a week long vacation in Turkey – where we had a very big fight one evening.  I made a silly joke to our Turkish waiter – who then laughed – and touched my shoulder before he left our table. Bruce then became convinced that I was flirting with this Turkish waiter. He specifically wanted to know if I’d rather be dating this waiter – a man who could barely speak English – plus lived well beyond a 5,000 mile radius of my zip code. I kept reassuring Bruce I was not the teeniest bit interested in this Turkish dude – yet Bruce refused to talk to me for a full two days of our vacation!

When I came home from vacation, I sought out therapy. I found a nice older psychotherapist, named Sid, who eventually became like a “grandfather from another great-grand-mother.” I adored Sid.

“You’ll never believe what Bruce said/did last night,” I’d begin each and every therapy session. And then I’d launch into another “Dadadadadadada Bad-man Episode”!

“Bruce said he doesn’t want me to have brunch with girlfriends on weekends anymore – unless he comes along.”

“Bruce told me he doesn’t want me to take an evening painting class – because he thinks I just want to meet someone.”

“Bruce told me he doesn’t want me to go to the gym  – because he thinks I just want to meet someone.”

“Bruce told me he doesn’t like it when I come home happy from work – because he worries I enjoy work more than him! He actually became angry the other day because I came home so happy!”

Each week I’d tell Sid story after story – quickly followed by rationalization after rationalization – always explaining why I should stay with Bruce.

“You know what your problem is Karen?” Sid asked me one session.  “You’re so smart, you’re stupid.”

I laughed. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You are able to over-think things so much – that you wind up talking yourself out of what you already know.”

“So you think I should break up with Bruce?” I asked.

Sid sighed loudly. “I’m a therapist. I’m not supposed to tell you what to do. But if you want my honest opinion… I can’t believe you’re gonna stay with him, when he’s an asshole.”

“Wow! I can’t believe you just called Bruce an a***hole,” I said. “But you’re right, he is an a**hole.”

“Actually, I didn’t call HIM an a**hole! I called YOU an a**hole. You heard me wrong. I said, ‘If you continue to stay with Bruce, then YOU are an a**hole.’”

“What? I’m not the a**hole! Bruce is the a**hole!”

“At this point, Karen, if you stay with Bruce knowing what you know – then YOU are the a**hole.”

“I’m the a**hole?” I repeated this word out loud –  a word as opposite in content as a mantra could ever be – but alas, more powerful than any mantra I’d ever used.

This word “a**hole” became my wake up call!

Sid was right. If I stayed with someone who was so very toxic to my well being  – then I became the A**hole to me – for allowing this soul-crushing, freedom-squelching relationship to continue!

“Listen, Karen,” Sid said,  “at this point in therapy we are simply wasting time talking about Bruce – and how messed up he is. Quite frankly, you are only using stories about Bruce to distract yourself from your real issues – and the important inner work you have to do on yourself. It’s time we talk about the white elephant in the room: your wounds! There’s obviously something very wounded inside of you, that you feel the need to stay with Bruce – when he is so toxic.”

Although this story happened well over a decade ago, I think about it often. I particularly think about it whenever I’ve found myself starting to enter into what I intuit might be a toxic relationship –be it in love, business or friendship.

I feel if we’re not careful we can all find ourselves wasting a lot of precious tick-tocking time complaining about how badly someone is behaving towards us.

I believe we need to stop asking questions like:

“Why is this person treating me this way?”  

“Why did this person do that crappy thing to me?”

“What is wrong with this person?”

“Are they an a**hole?”

“Are they a sociopath?”

“Are they a narcissist?”

“Isn’t this person simply just a terrible person?”

The really important questions we should be asking instead are:

“What did I miss in the vetting process that I allowed this person into my life?”

“What is wounded inside me that I choose/chose to stay with this person for as long as I do/did?”

“How can I grow from this experience – so it doesn’t repeat itself into a bad pattern?”

“Do I want to make this a story about how I was a victim – or how I became a victor?”

“Do I want to waste my time, thoughts and energy on toxicity or use it for a higher purpose?”

“Aren’t I wise and strong for how I moved on to be with better people and live better days?”

If you’re presently caught up in telling stories about the toxic misbehaviors of someone – the time has come to stop getting caught up in name-calling, contempt and blame.

The time has come to recognize you’re just distracting yourself with all the drama, chaos and static!

Yep, the more you stay with and/or complain about a toxic person, the more you’re merely delaying doing the important inner work you need to do – to heal your wounds, expand your limiting beliefs, and show yourself far more love and respect.

All of this time expended on them could be time spent on expanding you – growing who you are!

My lesson/your lesson: Don’t be an a**hole to yourself. Stop staying with (and/or complaining about) toxic people. Choose to focus your time, energy and conversation around  people who inspire you, support you and help you to grow you into your happiest, strongest, wisest self.

TWEET THIS NOW:  If you have (or had) toxic relationships of any kind, read this essay now –  via @notsalmon

Want to enjoy a happy, safe-feeling, committed love relationship? Check out the tools in my OPRAH.com recommended Prince Harming Syndrome. I offer free excerpts too! Click here now! For a limited time Prince Harming Syndrome is discounted – to only $9.99 – as a convenient ebook – you can download onto your computer or ipad, Kindle, Nook – anywhere you can read a PDF– and you can start reading it right away! Grab it now – while it’s still discounted! More info, an FAQ and praise can be found by clicking here now!

I’d love to hear your insights on the comment section below! What’s something which comes to your mind and heart when you read this list Share your personal story or a personal happiness tool! I LOVE it when you share – because I love to find out about my community! Plus, many thousands of peeps read these essays – so, what you share could be a helpful inspiration for someone else! xo Karen

click Karen's poster to connect with her!

click Karen’s poster to connect with her!

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

 

And So It Is, I Have Done Love, Truth

Do You Tell The Truth?

December 26, 2013

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By Jen Pastiloff.

“My belief is that when you’re telling the truth, you’re close to God.”
Anne Lamott

On a winter day in March 2013, I met my friend Robert Wilder in the lobby of the Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe, where I had slept the night before. I’d stayed in the hotel room of my friends from L.A., who, coincidentally, also happened to be in Santa Fe. My friend Emily Rapp’s son Ronan had passed away from Tay Sachs on February 15, and the memorial was chosen for that particular weekend.

Robert asked how I knew my friend. I told him that I met her because she took my classes, but that we had become friends.

Robert’s a fantastic writer and a high school English teacher. (He calls his students High Schooligans, if that gives you an indication of his cool-teacher status.) The Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society kind of teacher, the kind you appreciate much later upon looking back at who formed you, at who maybe taught you to really love books and writing and expressing yourself. My “Robert Wilder” was Mrs. Lifshey in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, whom I remembering running into when I was getting my hair done for my senior prom. I had been trying on a rhinestone pair of earrings, and she spotted me as she sat getting her own hair highlighted. She bought me the expensive fake diamond earrings “anonymously” that my mother couldn’t afford at the time. (My mom knew and didn’t keep it anonymous.)

Robert and I sat on the leather sofa in the lobby of the Inn of the Anasazi, and he asked me, “Is it hard to be friends with your students?”

I’d rather think of them as my tribe. Or not-studenty students.

But yes, it can be hard, I suppose.

Like being a person in the world can be hard or being a daughter or a wife can be hard. Like how anything you love can be hard.

Here’s why it can be hard with my not-studenty students: I am afraid to expose myself and have them see that I am a regular person who gets depressed and thinks she looks fat sometimes and drinks too much coffee and wine and doesn’t always walk the talk.

I write about it, but there is a difference in writing about it and then actually having someone see you in the flesh as the youest you there is.

My belief is that when you are telling the truth, you are close to God. So says Anne Lamott. Yet and still, my paper creates a chasm, a separation. A wall between me and everyone else in the world. There is a distance between the reader and myself, even when I am being my most vulnerable and truthful.

There is a little bit of Us and Them when you are standing in front of a class. You are in a glass case, and although everyone can hear you, no one can really get in. There is a you can’t really see me even though you think you can.

When you are with someone in person over lunch, that distance is minimized, and then there they are, right up in your face, their eyes all over you, their minds making up stories and facts.

Or not.

A couple months ago, I went to Atlanta to see my sister and nephews and to lead a workshop. My sister mentioned to me that she had said something to my friend (who had started as a not-student student) something about me always being on my phone.

I was horrified.

I told my sister that she should have not said that to this person. That it made me look badly, and that I had an image to uphold. (Ha!) Me always being on my phone suggested that I wasn’t present, that I was full of shit. How dare she say that to someone who takes my classes? She felt badly and said that she thought this person and I were really close friends. “We are.” I said, “But still.”

But still.

There is no but still.

The distance was zippered up, and there was no space between us anymore, and it’s true I look at my phone too much. It’s an addiction. I didn’t want that side of me exposed because, in my mind, it was bad enough I was friends with my not-studenty student, but now they would see all my faults and that I was full of sh*t, and they wouldn’t be my student or my not-studenty student and, possibly, not even my friend.

(Oh, the stories! The stories!)

I was terrified I would become some sort of fallen icon. As teachers of any kind, we’ve all had people become fixated or obsessed and tell us How Amazing We Are, and then, one day, they get bored or decide you are a Real Life Human Being, and you never hear from them again.

I was terrified that someone who sees me as an inspiration would realize I look at my iPhone too much and that I don’t pay enough attention and dismiss me.

But it’s only hard when I make it so. Yes, it is hard for me to be friends with everyone. (I am not special in that truth.) No one can be there for every single person nor should they be. I can’t go to everyone’s play or show, but there are indeed some people that I meet because they take my class or read my writing whom I know I want to have a glass of wine with. It is incidental to me that we met through my yoga class or my retreat or my blog.

Why should I be any better than them or put myself on a pedestal because I teach them how to do a downdog or because they read an essay and feel inspired by something I said?

The only time it’s hard is when someone puts an unrealistic expectation on me or when I try to make everyone happy. I can’t do that. (I’d like to remember more often that I can’t do that. I’d like us all to remember more often that we can’t do that.)

Everyone in my life is my teacher. You. You reading this. Everyone. (We should all recognize this more often.)

I want to do better.

I want to do better than yesterday, at least. I want to be more present and not look at my phone so much and never to gossip and all the rest, but the people who learn from me are pretty clear that I am not a guru or saint.

Yet, I also want to live a congruent life. That is what it really boils down to. My belief is that when you’re telling the truth, you’re close to God.

ABTTT. Always Be Telling The Truth.

If someone takes my class and then we become friends and they decide they no longer want to take my class because the boundary has been crossed or because I curse or don’t do enough of my own yoga practice, well then, so be it. What can I do? They come; they go; they come again, and all the while, I am here ABTTT or doing my best version of it.

My belief is that when you’re telling the truth, you’re close to God.

The truth is that I can’t be friends with everybody. (Neither can you.) Nor do I want to. (Neither can you. Trust me.) Nor do you want to. So get over it. Not possible.

I can love as best as I can, and I can keep teaching and writing, but I cannot be friends with every single person who takes my class or reads me. It’s not humanly possible, and that’s okay. The people pleasing days are falling away, and the days of ABTTT are coming fast and hard.

So what does it matter if someone takes my classes and also eats pancakes with me? It doesn’t. It would matter if I was a vastly different person on paper or in class that I am in “real life,” but I am not.

They are people. I am people. The same.

Most of the people in my life now entered via my yoga classes or my writings. I say Thank God for the not-studenty students who have turned into beloveds. Thank God I found you.

As I was getting on the plane (you guessed it, I wrote this from the airplane), I saw an old man reading an even older looking book called You Should Only Be Happy.

(Oh, that awful “should” word. There it is again.)

The book was written by a Jewish man and, from what I could gather, was a lot about Jewish culture. I started talking to the man, and he was a Jew from New York who now lived in Santa Fe. I chuckled as he held my hand.

I said, “So are you part of the Tribe?” (an oft-asked question Jews sometimes ask one another), and he looked at me and said, “Isn’t everybody?”

Isn’t everybody? 

So, is it hard to be friends with my students? Yes and no and everything in between.

Aren’t we all human? Isn’t, as my new airport friend put it, everybody part of the tribe. Isn’t everybody?

You Should Only Be Happy. Always Be Telling The Truth. Stop Looking At Your Phone So Much. Pay Attention. Drink More Water. Honor The Dead. Drink With Loved Ones. Eat Bread Baked By Your Friends. Have More Sex. Read George Saunders. Do Some Yoga.

Look, I don’t know about any of the above. What do I know, really? The only thing I know for sure is that telling the truth is everything.

Up next for Jen Pastiloff’s workshops are: annual New Years retreat in California, Vancouver, London (UK), Atlanta, NYC, Dallas and more. Click here.

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.

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Guest Posts, healing

Why People Self Sabotage Their Happiness.

December 9, 2013

By Karen Salmansohn.

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Confession time: For many years I used to be what I call an “enterpainer.” I loved to entertain friends with my pain, sharing amusing stories full of woes and miffed-ness.

One day I discovered a psychological concept which really woke me up—and motivated me to change my“enterpaining ways.” I’m excited to share this concept with you, because I believe it might motivate you as well.

The concept? “Masochistic equilibrium.”

When I first heard these words, I immediately wondered what they meant. I found out they represent a truly important psychological theory—one which clearly explains how and why sometimes a person’s comfort zone might actually be to stay in discomfort.

It’s like this: As a child you learned habits on love and happiness from your parents. If you learned that love comes with yelling and insults, then being in a relationship with too much peace and too many compliments might actually inspire anxiety. Snagging an abundance of joy might also trigger you to self-sabotage your happiness in order to maintain that “masochistic equilibrium” which you learned in your childhood. Or you might simply choose scenarios from the get-go which bring you lower levels of love and bliss.

Basically, you grew up in your childhood learning to feel comfy with only a certain level of happiness. Maybe you grew up used to eighty percent happiness. Or only seventy-five percent. Or seventeen percent. When this concentration shifts—even if it’s upwards—you will then start to feel twitchy, because this new zone feels so unfamiliar. As a result you might instinctively want to do something self-sabotaging, so you can shift your happiness concentration back down, down, down, down, down to your familiar zone—your “masochistic equilibrium.” Or, as mentioned above, you might simply choose situations right from the start which bring you a familiar level of pain, so as to match the“masochistic equilibrium” you grew up with.

How do you break free from the shackles of “masochistic equilibrium”?

You must one hundred percent accept that you do a lot of the goofier things you do because of negative childhood brainwashing—what I call “brain dirtying”—because your lens to the world gets dirtied with negative beliefs that you must wipe clean. Then, and only then, can you clearly see new paths to getting the life you desire and deserve.

One of the best ways to wipe your braindirtied lens clean is to seek alternate positive lessons in past pain. I call this possessing “pain-a-ramic” vision: You see the problems of your past with a full 180-degree positive perspective.

How?

A) Relax your mind. Breathe deeply. Enter a meditative state.

B) Dare to think about your most painful incidents.

C) Force yourself to answer the following: What is a positive and/or lucky way to learn from the past and thereby attain some gain in my pain? List five positive lessons—so you can start to forgive your past—and move forward in a more positive direction.

After you get done blaming your past for present pain, you must also accept some responsibility. After all, you’ve been an adult (or adult-ish) (and maybe even just plain ol’ doltish) for a while now. Although your troublemaking subconscious has gotten you into some painful relationships and challenging situations, the time has come for you to show your cerebrum who’s boss and stop allowing those painful misadventures.

How?

A) Next time you’re tempted to settle for a pattern of pain, repeat the following mantra: “I am not my past behavior. I am not my past failures. I am not how others have at one time treated me. I am only who I think I am right now in this moment. I am only what I do right now in this moment.”

B) Find examples of consistently happy, loving couples, and truly happy people. Spend as much time as possible with them so you can start to shift your belief system to what “normal love” and “normal happiness” are. Over time, you will begin to view highly positive situations as examples for your new normal. The more you witness positive examples of love and joy, the more opportunity you will have to change your belief system about life—and thereby start to change your “masochistic equilibrium.”

C) Talk with any family members you feel that you can be open with about this concept. You’ll find that the more you can be honest about repressed feelings and share them, the less troublemaking your subconscious will need to be.

D) Recognize that you have triggers that remind you of past pain and might thereby create a downward spiral of negative thinking and behavior. Clear your life of these depressing triggers. For example, you might want to remove items from your home that your ex-spouse has given you.  Instead, get “trigger happy” and focus on positive triggers that remind you of all your happy relationships. For example, you might want to put up photos in your home that represent happy times, happy people, or happy philosophies you want to live by.

E) Finally, there’s an added sneaky reason why painful patterns form: a theory à la Carl Jung. He believed that our lives need meaning and purpose. If we don’t have meaning and purpose, we acquire a bad habit in order to create drama and excitement—so we feel like there’s something interesting and entertaining happening in our life—even if it’s a bad exciting thing.  Jung’s name for these patterns of “enterpaining” situations was “low-level spiritual quests.”

The good news: You can more readily dump negative patterns of “low-level spiritual quests” by developing “high-level spiritual quests”—a driving positive force that drives you forward. For example, it’s easier to dump negative patterns in love (which give you drama and “enterpaining stories” to tell) , if you develop a  exciting hobby or passion-project to serve as your “high-level spiritual quest” (which then gives you excitement and happy entertaining stories to tell).

Personally, I discovered lots of reading and writing of books, which then filled my life with  far more entertaining things to talk about, and lessened my need for“enterpainment.”  However, “high-level spiritual quests” can show up in a variety of forms. You might consider taking up cycling, skydiving, painting, scuba diving, or international cooking. You might start training for a marathon. Or plan a trip to some place exotic.

Who knows? Maybe in the process you’ll meet an incredibly wonderful person (or people), and you’ll have some of your most entertaining stories ever told to share!

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Seeking to live your happiest life possible? Check out Karen’s newest book INSTANT HAPPY! Click here now to find out more about INSTANT HAPPY and get a peek inside.

 

Karen Salmansohn is a best selling author and award winning designer – with over 1 million books sold – who is passionate about empowering people to live their happiest, highest potential lives. She’s known for creating a new breed of self help – for people who would never be caught dead doing self help – because she merges a range of psychological and philosophical research with humor and stylish graphics. She’s been on The Today Show, The View, CNN, Fox News – and is also a columnist for Oprah, Psychology Today, CNN, MSN, Yahoo, AOL, Match,  Huffingtonpost – and then some. Her best selling e-book PRINCE HARMING SYNDROME was a selected book recommend on Oprah’s site – and applies equally to PRINCESS HARMINGS. For a limited time PRINCE HARMING SYNDROME is discounted 50% OFF – to only $9.99 – available on Karen’s site only at www.notsalmon.com/prince-harming Click the link and you’ll also find a FAQ of commonly asked questions about PRINCE HARMING SYNDROME – with some uncommon answers! www.notsalmon.com/prince-harming

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The Manifestation Workshop in Vancouver. Jan 17th. Book here.

The Manifestation Workshop in Vancouver. Jan 17th. Book here.

Jen Pastiloff is back in London for ONE workshop only Feb 14th. Book by clicking poster. This is her most popular workshop and space is limited to 50 people.

Jen Pastiloff is back in London for ONE workshop only Feb 14th. Book by clicking poster. This is her most popular workshop and space is limited to 50 people.

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And So It Is, Inspiration, Letting Go

Can of Worms.

September 16, 2013

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By Jen Pastiloff.

I’d been wanting to write a piece on regret, it’d been sitting in the back of my mind somewhere between the piece on our baselines of happiness and the piece on my second stepfather going to prison for murder (self defense!) so when my sometimes therapist said we are going for a life of no regrets here, Jen, remember? it seemed like just the right set of words to distract me into a Yea, yea right no regrets. Which reminds me.

Which reminds me. I’d like to write that piece right now so we no longer have to talk about having kids and if it’s the right time and how I should just start trying so that I live my regret free life with as relatively few regrets as possible. Because what if I wait until January like I want to, so I can still lead my Italy retreat, and I have a hard time conceiving? Will I be mad at myself that I didn’t start trying sooner? Will I regret it? I am done with such conversations for now so I will write a piece on the internalization of regret instead, the I’m sorries, the I wish I did it betters, the If I could do it over agains. Anything but this decision. I’ve just gone completely off my meds and quite frankly, I liked myself better on them. I’ve heard people say of their alcoholic spouses or parents, that as crappy as life was with them, they sometimes liked them better when they were drinking. (I’ve heard that. Not often. But I have. Maybe just in a movie.) I liked myself better on cymbalta. That 30 mg kept me affable enough, it stopped the train wreck inside my brain, the flatness of mornings, the circle walkings, the scribblings. I’d like to have any conversation but this one about babies since right now I am not on great terms with myself and I’d like to not have one more thing to regret so I think I shall write that piece now.

I know it’s not the thing to say in the yoga world, which is where I reside in many people’s minds, but I would be lying if I said I had no regrets. Telling my dad “I hate you” and then having him die a few hours later. I kind of regret that.

Have I made peace? Yes.

But still.

I also regret not writing things down. China? I was there? Really? Prove it. Pull out documents. Words. Poems. Fragments of words. Anything.

I visited silk factories? Those men selling crystal rock candy in all sorts of shapes and sizes on big sticks as they froze on their rusty bicycles, I smiled at them as I took their photos?

I have a box of pictures I look through every couple of months to remind myself of the places I have been, the people I have known.

If it weren’t for this box of photos, honestly, I am not so sure.

I watched the old men in Beijing practice tai-chi, their breath circling the air as if it was in tune with their chi. Wait, that was me? Breath that hovered or flowed, breath that faltered and fell to the ground. (I have photos of this, otherwise I might be making these memories up for the sake of this essay.)

Despite the photos, I still wonder if I am making things up. Perhaps I am. Perhaps we always are.

I sat on a bus while some other NYU kid boycotted going to wherever we were going that winter day because, as he said, we were “exploiting the people.”

I ate rice, nothing but white rice for weeks, because I was terrified of gaining any weight. I had no idea what was in any of the food and it didn’t seem to be worth the risk at the time. Trying something new? No way, I’d rather starve. So hungry, all I thought of was food and getting warm so I paid little attention to the Chinese monks we visited, the bridges I stood on, the shows I saw, the house boats of Suzhou. Thank God for pictures. Real life film photos too! (Film. Remember film?)

I regret not writing things down.

I had brunch with a friend last week who told me that her boyfriend has a tattoo that says “Write it Down.”  I thought how if I got a tattoo, it would say that. That or my dad’s name. Maybe both. Write it Down Melvin. (Wreck It Ralph. Has that kind of ring to it.)

My other friend, the one who hooked me on this sometimes therapist, suggested that maybe I didn’t need to remember.

Maybe that too.

Or maybe I remember and don’t remember at the same time. We all do that to some degree, don’t we?

And then there’s this to consider: maybe I do remember all of it. Every single thing. Every word, every hurt, every pancake. Maybe it’s all up there, somewhere. In boxes or files, hiding under the shitload of unnecessary information I ingest daily via Facebook and the internet. Quivering in a corner, waiting to be resuscitated.

I’ve convinced myself that if I had written down more of my life then I could prove it. This happened. I was here. I existed.

Writing it down would make it factual, a thing in the world, measurable and unchangeable. There would be no revisionist history if I wrote more down.

Here, let me go check my records. Wait, let me research that in my stacks. Nope, didn’t happen. Wasn’t there. Didn’t exist. Not in the notes.

Back to the regrets: not finishing NYU? F*ck yes. (When I told my dean at the time, a man I worked for and who was more like a father to me (at least in my mind) than anything, that I was “taking a semester off”, he told me NOT to go to L.A. He was adamant that I would lose a brain cell for every year I was there. Been here 15 years now. Too many brain cells to count.)

Those few regrets are mine. I own them or they own me or something in the middle. When my brain is trying to rewire itself, when it’s scrambling to reconfigure itself after five years on selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, those regrets are hanging on my wall next to a photo of me standing at the Great Wall of China.

Those are the regrets I am willing to share right now. The deep dark ones stay with me until I am ready to send them out into the world.

For brevity’s sake let’s leave it at those, since they tie in to the others, since they tie into, perhaps, all regret. Maybe all regret is intertwined. Maybe when you unlock one piece of the regret puzzle, the rest slip away like they never existed. Or, they start to make sense. Here, this piece fits nicely in here and voila! the puzzle is finished finally. Let’s take a picture of it, all our hard work, all the years leaning over the dining room table putting together misshapen pieces. They finally fit. We finally understand.

Anyway, regret is complicated. It’s a puzzle in its own right.

All roads lead to China, right?

I still live a rich full life and am happy a good 87% of the time (give or take.)

I lied. I am probably happy more like 78% of the time (give or take.)

I don’t know. Who cares the percentage?

I am as happy as I can be most of the time. How’s that?

Which reminds me. I want to write piece on the baseline of our happiness. We can vary slightly from this line but mostly don’t we stay about as happy as our own baseline? The idea is frightening, if you ask me. To someone who deals with depression, it’s a terrifying idea to ponder.

It’s like the body. The body always knows what it wants. Where it wants to be. You can work out until you are blue in the face and count your calories, but eventually, your body comes back to its “happy place.”

**

Do I wish some things had been different? Sometimes.

(Don’t you?)

A couple of those things I can. I can go back to school (and I may! I applied for a writing fellowship based on the advice my friend, the author Emily Rapp.) That’s a start.

I suppose I have no regrets if I think “just look at where I am now though. If I hadn’t done x, or y or said z, none of this would have happened.”

Do I always think that way? No.

I understand that philosophy and I agree with it. Mostly. But who knows?

Maybe I would have said I love you to my father before he died and the guilt I carried around with me like an extra limb would have found someone else to latch onto? Maybe I would’ve stayed at NYU and went on to get an MFA in Iowa or somewhere and maybe all the things I had written down would be books out in the world. Who knows?

Mostly I like to think of the things that have happened as having had happened so that I can be where I am now but I don’t know if that is the truth or rather something we invented so that we didn’t kill ourselves with the “what ifs.” Because the what-ifs can kill you.

You take what has happened and you make a life.

Still. Maybe it’s the neurotic Jew in me, maybe it’s the part of me that likes suffering.

The idea of regret is tricky, it holds you hostage in the past, it fills you up with more questions than can ever be answered in seven lifetimes. Regret is different than shame too. Regret is that thing in the back of your heart that feels like a lump, swollen and imaginary at the same time. Impossible to locate. Always there. Cancerous.

I wonder if I will fall a couple of notches down the rungs of the spiritual ladder by even having this conversation.

Truthfully, I don’t care. (How liberating it is to say that! Try it.)

I’d rather be human and filled with faults then a shit talking saint who pretends that bad things never happen and regret doesn’t exist.

Why make people feel they need to lie about them? Oh, no, I have no regrets, not a one. I am enlightened and then hiding under the bed, sniveling in shame at being so unlike everyone else and their regret-free lives.

To be clear: I don’t want to dwell in my regrets. That would be like taking a bath in my own shit every day. I do want to know, on a human, guttural level, if such a thing exists: a regret free life.

I want to know of other’s regrets. I want to know that it’s okay to have a couple or more than a couple, as long as you are moving forward, putting one foot in front of the other, living life in the best way you know how.

I suppose I am thinking of all this around Yom Kippur, a day when Jews atone, although that means little to me, having abandoned my Jewishness after my father passed. Most likely I am questioning these things as I think about bringing children into this world.

I am equal parts – wait, I should stop myself here – I am about 30% (give or take) spiritual teacher and 70% (give or take) neurotic writer. I do my best to have a foot in both worlds, but sometimes the writer, the one who digs and questions and overthinks, overtakes the other one.

Someone posted on my Facebook page, when I opened this dialogue, that if you have no regrets you haven’t lived long enough.

I found myself up late reading all the comments people posted about regret.

I regret getting lost on my way to Malibu beach with my younger brother who wanted to see it. He died in an accident years later. It’s a weird regret, but it’s really the only one I have.

Frequently I imagine going back in time and getting to my kid’s magic show on time, before he actually did the magic trick rather than just after. The kid no longer cares, but I re-do that day in my mind quite often.

Regret…after beating breast cancer (at the age of 43 with 3 kids at that time, one in elementary, one middle and one high school) I have such regrets not documenting my journey better, not taking more pictures with my bald head (I think I have one), not writing down what I went through, the ups, the downs, the nausea, the deep to the bone pain, the confusion, the sweet nurses, the doctors who scared me (with their superior attitudes), the doctors who didn’t, what my kids were going through, what my husband felt, the highs and the lows. I continued working, kept being the homeroom mom, the wife, the daughter who didn’t want her heartbroken and in denial parents to see how sick and tired I actually felt, and tried to keep things as normal as possible for everyone I Loved. Now 3 years later I look back, and think, WOW, it’s like it never happened (besides the fact that I never completed my reconstruction, and don’t have nipples!) I went through this extraordinary journey, (the worse thing to happen, and the best thing happen to me) I was superwoman who overcame the Kryptonite, I want to shout to the world, I SURVIVED! But short of lifting up my shirt and showing my deformed breasts, everyone, (but me) seems to have moved on and forgotten….Sorry, didn’t want mean to write a manifesto, not that I ever want to go through breast cancer again….but I guess I don’t want to ever forget either…..how weird is that?

I regret each time I screwed up, and then failed to learn from it. So many people harmed needlessly. I regret taking so long to embrace myself. I have never regretted loving anyone, even when it was one-sided.

Wow, Jennifer. Thanks for sharing. Never thought of the importance of writing down or speaking about our regrets. And after reading some of the ones shared here by many people I can relate to many of them.

Oh, Jennifer. What a can of worms. I can’t.

What a can of worms is right.

I saw this poster today on Facebook as I was writing this which said that the secret to happiness is having a bad memory. Maybe that’s why I never wrote things down? If I don’t write them down then they won’t have existed and I will have nothing to regret and I will be happy. Maybe I was trying to trick myself into happiness.

I know regret exists. Whether it got written down or not. The level of living inside of the regret however, varies, depending on your own can of worms. I don’t want to live with the worms. I just want to understand my regrets enough to write of them. To look someone else in the face and say I understand you, I understand your regretting not making it to Malibu that time with your brother, before he died in the accident.

Let’s go now. To Malibu. We can go together and throw roses into the ocean like we did when that stepfather of mine, (the one who went to prison) died. We can throw rose petals into the water and watch the waves take them away. We can say goodbye, having finally acknowledged their existence. We can get on surfboards and float out on our bellies. We can float out as far as we like.

We can scatter all the ashes of our regrets.

To say that regrets don’t exist is a lie. To say we aren’t able to let them go is another lie.

To say that somewhere in the middle is where most of us reside is the closest thing I have come to truth.

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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.