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homeless

Fatherhood, Guest Posts, healing

Letter To My Homeless Father

July 16, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Toni White

Dear Dad,

I knew from an early age that our story would never end well but it was a July Saturday that you changed our lives forever.

That was the day you died. 
 At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.

You’re supposed to be in your teenage years when you get your heart broken for the first time.  You’re supposed to run home from school in tears that your relationship is over and your dad is supposed to be the one that threatens to ‘hurt him’ because he’s upset his daughter.  You are not supposed to be 10 years old when your heart breaks for the first time and your father is not the one that’s supposed to break it for you; and yet you were.  You agreed to come to Disneyworld with mum and I despite the fact that you were no longer married and I was over the moon to think I would have my first family holiday.  Five days later, however, you changed your mind and you broke my heart; I remember that conversation like it was yesterday.  You called me the following Tuesday, like you always did, but I was still too upset to speak to you; mum told you I didn’t want to talk and you hung up; you never rang back.  It was 6 weeks later when I had to call you and apologise for my behaviour and listen to your mother tell me what I had put you through.  I never got over it.  That was the day I truly began to see you for what you were.  Even writing this brings tears to my eyes and anger to my heart to think you could treat your daughter so callously.  I wish I hadn’t missed you as much as I did and called you; I doubt you would have ever had the courage to call me back and I would have been free from you for all these years.  Hindsight is a cruel mistress.

You are my shameful secret.  If I don’t have to speak about you to anyone, I won’t.  If you were anyone but my father, I would have walked out of your life when I started to see you for the manipulative and controlling monster you really were.  Instead, you pushed everyone away and left me being the only person you had in the world despite the fact I wanted nothing to do with you.  We, as a society, are told to look after our parents no matter what; ‘love unconditionally’ as they say but why?  You have done nothing to deserve my respect, help or love and so I’m going against everything I’ve ever been taught and I’m walking away because I can’t carry you as my shameful secret any longer; I have no desire or energy to keep something so big, so quiet.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Uncategorized

The Joy of Simply Waking Up.

December 25, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Anna Jorgensen.

From Gucci to Gap to Goodwill and Grateful.

The other day I’m on my way to a vintage clothing shop, and I see two fellows on the bus bench in front of the shop. They’re obviously homeless as evidenced by their grubby, layered frocks; mangy, matted hair; shopping cart of filthy blankets and extra, oversized army jackets; and the 2 litre bottle of cheap chardonnay they are sharing at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday morning.

The fellow facing me has brown hair and glaucoma. He asks, “Can you spare some change?”

I say, “Just a minute,” and go into the store, not wanting them to filch my cash, feeling paranoid they’ll steal my wallet and somehow out-shuffle me down the street. I enter the store, search my purse and find two dollars. I go back outside—the other man has removed his jacket revealing a body riddled with scabs. As I approach the men, I smell stale urine. (I must note that I have chatted with a few home-lacking people, and they do not all smell foul. I ride my bicycle on the boardwalk and see plenty out of doors dwellers at the free public showers soaping up. The water isn’t heated. But I digress.)

I approach the men and hand them each a dollar. The fellow who didn’t ask for money and isn’t facing me immediately hands his dollar to his friend, and I feel chastened having made the assumption.

I ask his friend, “What’s your name?” Continue Reading…

Gratitude, Guest Posts

Enough Is As Good As A Feast. By Amy Roost.

February 22, 2014

Enough Is As Good As A Feast. By Amy Roost.

I know a young man. From the age of 5 he was raised in the foster system, moving from home to home.

Last year, at the age of 18, he was “emancipated,” meaning he cut his ties with the courts and they with him. Since then, he was accepted into a group home, graduated high school, started classes at Palomar College and got a dishwashing job. Then he slipped up — got in some trouble. Whether he’s to blame, it’s hard to know. The good news is no charges were filed and his record remains clean. The bad news is he lost his job while he spent time in the county jail.

Last week we had lunch and caught up. He told me about his girlfriend: She’s outgoing, works as a carpet cleaner. Her dad died last year from alcoholism. Her mother likes him. He also told me where they live — in the back of a broken down van in Carlsbad.

They have a friend who lives in a house around the corner from where the van is parked. She lets them keep food in her refrigerator and use her shower. They’re eligible for food stamps, so they at least have food.

We had pizza for lunch and he took the leftovers to go. I drove him to the mall to get him a new skateboard deck. The van needs a fuel pump so the skateboard is his primary mode of transportation for now. We went to Costco so I could pick up a few “staples,” like wine, Pellegrino, aged cheddar, tomatoes. I bought him a case of ramen and some Cherrios. As we were loading things in the back of my car a $1 bill fell from his pocket onto the ground. He was pleasantly surprised.

As we waited at a stoplight on the way back to his “place,” we saw a woman standing on the corner with a dog and a sign that read “God Bless. Anything Helps.” The young man reached down into his pocket and handed the dollar bill to me, “Here, give this to her.” I rolled down my window and did as he told me. He then leaned across me and asked of the woman, “Are you hungry?” “Yes,” she said. The young man then reached into the backseat and grabbed the box with the leftover pizza and handed it out the window to the woman. I was surprised by both gestures, but especially the pizza because he’d already called his girlfriend on my phone to tell her he was bringing home dinner.

As we pulled away, the woman asked me, “Are you taking good care of him?” I said I was and she said, “Good. I’ll pray for you.” I told her I’d pray for her too.

When we were down the road a ways, the young man said, “Do you know who that was?” Surprised and wondering what I missed, I answered, “No.”

“That’s my girlfriend’s mother,” he told me.

A little further down the road we saw an older man rolling up the sidewalk in a wheel chair. The young man said, “That’s Danny.” I said, “Oh, how do you know Danny?” He said, “I help him get around when he needs pushing. I know most of the homeless people in Carlsbad. We all look out for each other.”

As I process the interaction in the warmth of my home overlooking the Pacific Ocean, I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. One thing I am sure of is that a young man who is struggling to make his way in the world and helping others make theirs schooled me in a few of the heavenly virtues, namely liberality (a nobility of thought or actions) and humility. I’m also sure that enough is ofttimes as good as a feast.

On this, the 50th anniversary of the declaration of the War on Poverty, may we all learn to share what we have, our leftovers, and found dollar bills. And no matter what we possess, be it a feast or just enough, may we all look out for each other.

Click photo to connect with Amy.

Click photo to connect with Amy.

Her multi-dimensional suchness, Amy Roost, is a freelance writer, book publicist, legal and medical researcher, and vacation rental manager. She and her husband are the authors of “Ritual and the Art of Relationship Maintenance” due to be published later this year in a collection entitled Ritual and Healing: Ordinary and Extraordinary Stories of Transformation (Motivational Press). Amy is also Executive Director of Silver Age Yoga Community Outreach (SAYCO) which offers geriatric yoga teacher certification, and provides yoga instruction to underserved seniors.

Click here to connect with Amy.

***

Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer based in Los Angeles. She is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Jen will be leading a Retreat in Costa Rica at the end of March and her annual retreat to Tuscany is in July 2014. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing and for ALL levels. Read this post to understand what a Manifestation retreat is. Check out her site jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Jen and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. A lot. Next up is a workshop in New York City on March 15. Book here.

Inspiration, love

Be Love.

August 22, 2013

By Jen Pastiloff.

I just came to the library to write. I see this man standing and looking at some books. He has a sign on his chest that says “Be Love.” I ask him if I can take a picture and he happily obliges. I turn around to get some money in my wallet (he’s homeless, that much was evident. There are a lot of homeless that hang out at the Santa Monica library.) I turn back around and he’s taken the sign off. “Pictures free” he says “but you have to wear this for 2 hours. I’m David, what’s your name?” I ask him to tie it around my neck. He says if anyone asks me what it’s about to tell them “It’s a demand.” I gave him a hug and two bucks and went up the stairs to write. The smiles I got as I walked to my little table by the window. Be love, be love, be love. Part of my book talks about the messengers in our lives. David was one such messenger indeed. Be love. Pass it on.

ps, he’d also never taken a pic with an iPhone before and the pic of me below was his first one ever. Pretty pretty good.

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Later that night…

So I wore the “Be Love” sign to class tonight. I walked in and said “Can anyone guess what the theme is tonight?” Everyone laughed at the obviousness of it, but, as someone said after class, when she came to me with tears in her eyes, the room “softened.” She said, verbatim, that she had never seen anything like it. If you don’t know what sign I am talking about, see the post below this with the pic included. A homeless man was wearing the sign today and after I took a picture of him, he took it off and told me “Picture is free but you gotta wear the sign.” So I did. Being true to my word and all. The girl with tears in her eyes said that tonight’s class was like a poem, which, as you know, just might be the greatest thing to say to me.

Did I do that? Nah. The sign on my chest did.
You see, no one could resist it. Even the grumpy dudes in the back who think I talk too much and “can’t we just downdog?”, even they smiled and giggled at the sign. It softened the room because, well, love does that.
However you look at it, really, we should all be wearing such signs.
Even if they are invisible.
Even if only we can see it.
As I drove to teach my class I was behind a guy who was driving way below the speed limit and turned with using a blinker, a guy I deemed “asshole” to myself. Out loud. In my car.
Which made me chuckle. Here I was, with a big ole BE LOVE cardboard sign on my chest and I was calling some stranger an asshole.
I laughed at myself and pretty quickly thanked the cardboard for keeping me in check. Be congruent, Jen. You are love. Be love. Or, as Jesse on Breaking Bad would say: Be love, yo. (I apologize for any BB inside jokes. My obsession runs deep.)

May I always have a sign on my chest. Whether I can see it or not. May we all remember that we have these signs on our chests. may we all remember to Be LOVE.

Thanks David, the homeless man I met in the library today, who passed on the love to me. I hope you know what you’ve done, my dear sir. My big dear hearted sir. I just hope you have some small inkling, whoever and wherever you are.

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

Click to order Simplrereminders book.

Click to order Simplrereminders book.

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