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hazard county yoga

Contests & Giveaways, Forgiveness, Guest Posts

Forgiveness by Janet Raftis.

February 12, 2013

I had no idea the response for the Forgiveness blog contest would be so overwhelmingly large. There were so many great ones ( I got over 100) that I will publish one every day this week. I love you guys. 

This essay is by Janet Raftis, an inspiring life coach living in Atlanta. Janet has taken a few of my workshops in Georgia at Hazard County Yoga and she is fantastic. Please get to know her. Offer her a comment at the end or connect with her on Facebook. Also, here is a link to her own blog which I suggest you check out.

Click to connect with Janet

Click to connect with Janet

Forgiveness by Janet Raftis.

I spent years punishing myself. I punished myself for things that others had done to me and for things that I had done to others. I did it by systematically beating myself down, abusing my body and numbing myself out. I punished myself for not being good enough, and sometimes I did it for being too good. No matter what I did, or how I acted, it was never right.

I don’t even remember what it was that constituted the first betrayal, but once the ball was set in motion, it snowballed. I found ways to hurt myself and I found ways to hurt others. The punishment increased. I smoked, I drank heavily, I took drugs. I neglected to eat properly, and I gave up athletics. I took to drinking a ridiculous amount of coffee to bring me back up during the day, and the cycle of emotional binging and purging continued.

The self-hatred was carefully disguised, and I never would have believed that I was intentionally harming myself. I admitted to being a little insecure, because that was acceptable. At some point, I realized that I was seriously harming myself – and others – and I sought change. But I didn’t know how to do this. One by one, I dropped my habits of destruction, but the more I shed them, the worse I felt. I teeter-tottered amongst them, searching for balance and never being able to achieve it. I felt naked and scared. I felt isolated and alone. I would drop one vice and then pick up another, each slightly less dangerous than the one before, but harmful nonetheless.

Around four years ago, I formally quit drinking. This was my first lesson in forgiveness. I took a sincere step to do something loving for myself. I started to listen to what other people were suggesting, and I realized that if they could be happy, I could be too. But how? I still felt pretty bad, and I still felt really angry. I had a few resentments that could make my skin crawl. People told me that I had to forgive them. They told me that to not forgive them was to continue to hurt myself. I wasn’t ready to give the resentments up, though. I had a lot of self-righteous anger gnawing at my core. They had hurt me, dammit! They should feel my wrath!

The problem, though, was that they didn’t feel my anger. In some cases, they had no fucking idea, and in others, they just didn’t fucking care. And I was sitting in the corner, stewing in my own muck, feeling hated, alone, unworthy, and violated. Life wasn’t fair! How could it be that those assholes got off scott-free, while I continued to feel so much hurt inside? How was it that I was so raw that even an off look from another could re-open every single wound that I had?

I wasn’t willing to let go, and so I let it sit there for a while, and I worked on cleaning other parts of myself up. The first step in doing this required that I practice acceptance. I had to be willing to accept that I had done some pretty lame things. I had hurt others, either through selfishness, stupidity, or ignorance. I had to see my part in my resentments, and I had to acknowledge that I had done the best that I could do in any given moment with the growth and understanding that I had at the time. It happened the way that it happened, and so there was no other available outcome possible. I had to accept that I am not perfect, and that perfection is not a requirement (nor even really desired) in this lifetime. I began to understand where I was operating from, and that I was not a bad person. I may have been lost, scared, or lonely, but I was not bad. Once acceptance of who I really was set in, forgiveness began to flow naturally.

For the first time ever, I realized that I was a spiritual being having a human experience, and that a huge part of this lifetime is learning to relate and interact with other humans. I was able to see myself compassionately, and this opened a huge door for me. Finally, once I could see myself through the lens of compassion, I could see others through it too.

Some of my resentments just melted away. Once I saw my role in everything, I realized that some of the stuff I was holding onto was just out of sheer self-flagellation. I couldn’t even remember what it was. There were a few things that I had to work at a little harder (and still do at times). I have to constantly go back to compassion. Yes, what this person did hurt me. Why? Is it because I am feeling insecure, lonely, frightened, or unloved? Okay, nix it. Is it because this person was acting from a place of insecurity, loneliness, fear or feelings of being unloved? Okay, forgive it. They are doing the very best that they can.

I have a particularly difficult relationship in my life that I have to maintain. Because letting it go is not an option, I have to practice forgiveness on an almost daily basis. Sometimes I can let things go immediately. I remember that he is not trying to hurt me; he is trying to protect himself. At other times, I have to dig down deep, and pull up every ounce of compassion I have. It can reduce me to tears. I have to remember over and over again that I have played a part in this, and that I still do. What I can control is how I react to it. I have to recall that we are each doing the very best that we can at any given moment. When I can do this, I can find forgiveness. And once the forgiveness comes, I can find gratitude. That is the nugget, right there. The most difficult situations and people that I have had in my life have offered me the greatest moments of growth. They have provided me with the seeds that I want to nurture and grow, and they are the reason that I want to reach out and help others. Learning to love and honor myself enabled me to offer others the same that I would want for myself: compassion and forgiveness.



My next workshop at Hazard County Yoga outside of Atlanta is Sunday April  28. They sell out quickly so please pre-register and pay by clicking here. See you then.

Gratitude, Guest Posts, Manifestation Workshops

Moments by Kate Berlin.

January 29, 2013

So last weekend I led a sold out workshop in Atlanta. One of the girls in the workshop had driven from Tampa! That’s a 7 hour drive, folks. It blew my mind and what blew it even more was conencting with the girl. Her name is Kate Berlin and she is a phenomenal writer. Anyway, send her some love, will ya? Here is her link on Tumblr.

Here’s what she wrote about the experience:


That’s all we have with the people we love. I’m pretty sure I read that somewhere.

Moments are all we ever have. We no longer have the past. We will never hold onto the future. We can’t.

Last weekend was an out of body experience for me. I ran my first 5K and met Jennifer Pastiloff (writer/yoga inspiration) at a Manifestation Workshop led by her. HUGE stuff. Huge. Huge. HUGE. stuff. So incredibly universally huge that I am seriously left speechless by it all.

I am still speechless by it all.

There were tears, many tears, there was laughter, connection, letting go, forgiving, manifesting, conquering. You name it and it was there.

(There were moments)

And at one point during the workshop we had to sit across a partner and state what we were, no excuses, no explanation. Just straight. I am. This is hard for me, because usually ‘I am’ proceeds with, needy. [I am needy], insecure [I am insecure], not worthy [I am not worthy], you will never make it [I will never make it], but there was none of that allowed, so I really had to dig deep, or actually not really, because our magnificent truth is right there at the surface. It’s peeking, itching, anxious to jump out and proclaim who it is!

(Give it a moment)

So I sat there, dismissing my negativity, dismissing the cliche and spoke the truth, the thing that has always lingered at the tip of my tongue, the brink of my heart, but that normally seems too much of an unattainable dream to be truth, yet it is, so I went for it and proclaimed, “I am a writer”

And I sat there, while this absolute stranger stared into my eyes, into me, her eyes probing, seeing what I just stated as it unfolded…

(in that moment nothing else could be more true).

She was looking, past my thinkings of what if; what if she thinks I am nothing I just proclaimed? And there I was, staring back, and the only thing I could think of was that I had to hold onto this moment. I had to never forget this face. This person who is touching every corner of my truth. Who saw me, as I was, and who I saw, as she is.

(hold onto this moment)

She turned out to be a writer also. She wants the same thing I want. She was a reflection of myself. And I could see her thinking the same thing, feeling the same fears. We both want it, badly, we do and as we stared at each other we were both fearful.

“I just proclaimed I am a writer, to a writer, she will see right through me and question my ability to write, like how I question my own ability to be a writer on a daily basis.”

We both write, but which one of us is the writer? As if there is only room for one, when there is room for many. There are moments for everyone.

(hold onto this moment.)

(hold onto this moment tight)

we lifted each other to such heights, there was nothing else there but the truth. Two writers, sharing a space, sharing energy, sharing a dream.

(sharing a moment)

She wants to be on the best-seller list and she will be. I know this. I never once doubted her ability to be a writer, and when the moment was over I hugged her and told her the only truth I knew of her; she is a writer. She is.

She is a writer. And I am a writer. And we both hold onto moments. We will both forever hold onto that one. Where we were nothing but two writers, wanting so bad to have our words be read.

And all I want is a book, a page, a sentence, read and understood. I want to reach out of these words and hold onto the person who reads this. Can you feel it? Do you see this? I understand. [I understand]. I want that.

I want to do, and see, and hear, and feel and I want to write about it.

I want moments, and I want to showcase them forever with the beauty only words know how to.

I want from point A to point B, I want heaven and hell, the ugliness truth holds and the beauty once it sets, I want all those moments and I want to write about it.

Moments make me a writer.

(Moments will forever proclaim me a writer)



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

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

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

January 24, 2013

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

Hey Jennifer! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LOVE to you!!!