Browsing Tag

humanity

Addiction, Binders, Family, Grief, Guest Posts

Consequence

April 22, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Chris J. Rice

 

Small bodies stared out a car window, helpless, listening to the drone of a voice, pitiless, and naïve, a horrible combination. Houses never furnished. Refrigerators full of liquor and doggie bags, steak slices, and baked Alaska, toddlers hidden behind beige drapes peeing on white carpet. Babies crying. Shit stains and Martini olives. Poodle yelps. Flash of ocean daylight. And remorse.

My Moody Sister died in a drug-induced coma. Dark hair matted with vomit. Fell asleep on a double bed in a Tulsa motel room beside her abusive boyfriend, and never woke up.

I jumped out of sleep to answer the phone.

“I’m calling to let you know,” my paternal aunt said. “Didn’t want you to hear it from none of them.”

Receiver to chest, I crouched down. Balanced on my heels, and rocked.

“Cancer,” my aunt said. “Had to have been. Just look at her obituary picture. Looks like it to me, like she died of cancer.”

I knew that wasn’t true. Got off the phone quick as I could and searched online for my sister’s obituary, head full of unanswerable questions. When did the drugs and drinking start? Was it because we had no real home? Why did she stay in Mama’s dark orbit so long past youth? Was it the only life she knew, or the only life she could imagine? Frantic and doubting, I searched until there she was in glowing bits, my Moody Sister.

Pixilated otherworldly eyes smiled above a brief paragraph.

She left behind three children, at least eight half siblings and survived by both her parents, was buried in an Ozark cemetery facing old Route 66. Her three children went to live with her last husband. Their names in her obituary were long jingly strings of karmic payback and wishful thinking: combinations of our Mama’s real first name alongside my sister’s absent father’s surname.

She didn’t meet her biological father until she was a grown woman.

Come from a childhood with no fixed address.

Identity, a combination of what you’ve done, what’s been done to you, flawed mosaic of who you are, and who others think you are. Not who you are inherently, but also who and where you came from, and what you were able to make of yourself.

Outcomes.

Origins.

Consequence.

She was Mama’s favorite child and most constant companion, always riding beside her in the front seat of the car as we traveled from town to town. Disregarding its isolation, she accepted the position of best loved, her dark head barely visible to the other kids crammed together in the backseat. When left behind with the rest of us she became inconsolable, running after the car, plopping herself on the sidewalk as Mama sped off. Sat there, cross-legged, head thrown back, mouth wide open and skyward, wailing with all her need, outdoors and out loud, for her Mama to come back home. My peaceful respite, lolling alone on the motel carpet unobserved with a new Nancy Drew, was her full-bodied pain.

The daughter in the front seat never learned to be alone; disconnection terrified her.

I ran away from all my family, especially my Moody Sister, putting real distance between us, and seldom looking back. Her unhappiness was of another order altogether from mine: unquenchable, indulgent, and seductively unhealthy, like too much syrup on an already too sweet dessert.

The last time I saw her, I drew her portrait. Pencils sharpened, I layered colored lines on a flat green page, porous and textured. Watched her bow her head slightly to the left, as she had done so often in our earliest days together, and recorded what I saw and what I knew to be true. Made art of our brutal detachment.

Long black bangs curled across a forehead into downcast blue eyes.

A heart-shaped face held sharp lips painted red.

Absence charged by a presence, deceptive and confounding. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Manifestation Workshops, Women

Women Are Hurting.

March 31, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Jane Eaton Hamilton.

Jen Pastiloff & The Hunt For Beauty.

There’s something I can’t get off my mind; it’s been nagging.

A couple months ago, Jen Pastiloff came to town.  She’s the wunderkind behind the online home for great essays, Manifest Station, and a yoga/writing workshop phenom.  I first came to know Jen through her site when she published my essay about Paris, ‘Things That Didn’t Happen,’ which now appears in the Caitlin Press anthology This Place a Stranger, about women traveling solo.

All this is a long-winded introduction to the fact that Jen asked me to attend her yoga workshop here in Vancouver, BC, when she came to town earlier this year at Semperviva Yoga, and, reluctantly, I went.  (Jen knew getting me out of my house was like pulling teeth, but she kept at me.)  Despite a background in dance, I’ve never been a yoga enthusiast, and I’m also an atheist, and morbidly shy, and the whole spiritual thing makes me roll my eyes.  I slid down the wall at the back of the room, gamely played along to the limits of my creaky old body, and kept my eyes and ears open.

And, folks, a bunch of things happened.

She calls the workshop, after all, “On Being Human.”

But the transformative thing, the thing that hasn’t gone away, was this:

Women are hurting. Continue Reading…

Forgiveness, Guest Posts, Relationships

To the Woman Who Wants to Forgive Her Cheating Partner.

March 11, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Erica Garza.

To the Woman Who Wants to Forgive Her Cheating Partner,

I’m not here to reiterate what 95% of the internet, women’s magazines or your girlfriends are likely to tell you. And I’m not here to place blame on any entity: the cheater, the other woman, patriarchy, the media, God.

I’m here to welcome you to this experience.

This might seem strange, but hear me out. What has just happened to you is undoubtedly awful. You’re feeling things no person should ever have to feel in this life, although many of us do. Regret, anger, blame, resentment, self-pity, maybe even self-hatred. Please note that these feelings are normal. Don’t shut them out. Don’t drown them in too many glasses of wine. And don’t let them dictate your next action. Just witness them. Feel them. After all, they’ll be gone soon. I promise you that.

I’d rather focus on something else. Because the fact that you are even considering “forgiveness” as an option means something extraordinary. And the world needs to celebrate the extraordinary much more than it glorifies the wicked and the vengeful.

Considering forgiveness means you have entered a new era in your life. I’m not talking “era” in the way people sometimes refer to adolescence as the era of innocence or the twenties as the era of recklessness. This era has nothing to do with your age. But it has everything to do with your humanity.

Continue Reading…

Beauty Hunting, Guest Posts, Manifestation Workshops, Men

On Fear & Beauty: One Man’s Thoughts.

February 18, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88

 

Note from Jen: Peter Tóth has been following me for a while on social media so it was a huge honor to have him schlep all the way to London to attend my workshop. He wrote this beautiful post after the workshop. The honor was all mine, I can assure you. I was simply blown away by this, and by him. I will be back in London at Lumi Power Yoga in Hammersmith for another workshop October 10th!

 

By Peter Tóth.

A re-view of a journey there and back

16-17. February 2015

Last three days (from 13th till 15th February) have been really interesting for me and I am unsure how to describe their magic in words. I feel like I can only miserably fail in attempting to do so, but I will try anyway. Although I’m not a fan of cheesy motivational quotes, I will use one now, it’s from Bob Proctor and it’s actually a good one (and not too cheesy either):

“If you know what to do to reach your goal, it’s not a big enough goal.”

So, here’s to attempting the impossible…

On Friday, the 13th, on the way home from work, I mind-travelled back to the moment I learned about Zina Nicole Lahr as it would have been her 25th birthday that day and after reading her essay Contrast And Catalyst (Click to download pdf. It’s beautiful, beautiful, beautiful and as far as I know it has disappeared from internet ) for about tenth time I felt the same connection to her as I felt back then (The only difference was, that this time I had a conscious knowledge of who she was and I was desperately trying to figure out why do I feel connected to her and why she occasionally comes to haunt my day dreams with her fragile, aetheric, otherworldly beauty.)

I wanted to celebrate her birthday, but I didn’t know how. (Not long ago I met a girl who told me to fucking forget about Zina and to concentrate on the real life instead. In a way it felt like an insult, like if she didn’t understand that every thought we think is real and that a person can be dead and still be a catalyst, an agent that provokes changes and actions and we should not be judged if we somehow found ourselves attracted to such being. Because what if each life silently continues after it disappears from this world, where we can witness and measure it? It might go unnoticed, unobserved, unsung, but so what? It might as well be, that it is simply us who don’t pay enough attention to what goes around us, after all who knows? … )

In a painful moment of realization that I will never meet her, I sort of promised myself to remember her through creativity. Through manifestation of myself via any act of creating, whether it’s writing, drawing, photography, or a paper modelling. And it was shortly after all this happened that I found another beautiful American, Jennifer Pastiloff. Once again, my moth like personality felt attracted to her flame immediately. It too happened through her writing. But this time it wasn’t as much about what she has written, or how (although its beauty and power is undisputed and I loved everything she has written). It was the courage with which she has written it. The rawness of her essays. The willingness to look the pain in the eye and the humility which shone through her after she came victorious from what must have been exhaustively tiring staring contest. I just love female warriors. I decided I must meet her. And talk to her, like one human being to another. I wanted to see her, not visually, I wanted to witness the poetry of her being.

And soon she pulled a workshop in London and although the yoga bit and the seemingly feminine character of it all scared me, I booked it immediately. That was in November 2014.

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.

~ Continue Reading…

Dear Life., Guest Posts, Relationships

Dear Life: I Am Afraid I Will Lose Everything.

January 3, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88

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 my dear friend Suzy Vitello, whose latest book, The Empress Chronicles,  just came out! 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 Vancouver in a couple weeks! My first workshop there! 

1798X611
Dear Life,

My mom died when I was 6 and my dad raised us. He did a great- okay, he did the best job, he could. I realize this has colored so much of my life- this loss.

I am a mother now of my own and I cannot imagine my kids being raised without me. But this letter really isn’t about that. (Or, maybe it is?)

My husband and I have recently split up.

I am struggling with the separation but ultimately know it is for the best. We haven’t been happy in a long time. My career on the other hand, is going swimmingly. I have just published my second book and started my own business a few years ago, which has really taken off!

The reason I am writing to you is I have recently had a few people who I have let into my private inner circle “copy” me. I let very few people in as it is. I am extremely private.

I do realize I sound like a child when I say that people copy me.

People say, “You should feel flattered.” But I don’t. I worked so hard to create the things I have created. I feel sort of betrayed by these friends. I know that no one can be me (at least this is what people tell me) but I feel angry and sad that people do this.

I know that this happens in life, and that the more successful we become it will KEEP happening.

Why do I feel threatened? How do I get over caring? Does it matter? I feel consumed. Dealing with a separation and raising my kids and now feeling like I have to fiercely protect what is mine.

Do I just not let people in? Do I become more guarded?  (I have 2 books out in the world, so please keep this anonymous.)

I know that people imitate but I didn’t expect it to be friends.

I am worried that because I lost my mom I feel that things will always be taken away from me. I want to let this anger and fear go but I feel betrayed and frustrated and alone.

Signed,
Afraid

writing-course_pageheader_825x200_alt2

Continue Reading…

courage, Guest Posts, Inspiration

Selma Swelter.

September 3, 2014

By Travis Turner.

She asked me the night before she left, why I could never leave. Why I never mustered the courage to get out. Was I so scared to go? I could never give her an answer. Until now, anyway. Selma is halfway to Montgomery. Halfway from where we grew up. Halfway home for us.

At the Performing Arts Center in the middle of an Alabama sweat-drenched day, I stand here waiting in line for a casting audition. The anticipation of becoming something other than myself makes me drunk. An old man stumbles up off the street, his face cracked with lines from a life of hard work. His breath and body steam of alcohol from the night before.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts

Remembering How To Be Human by Erin Telford.

June 5, 2013

Remembering How To Be Human

I had a glorious, profound experience this past weekend.  I flew to Oregon to surprise my amazing mama for Mother’s Day.  Since my visit was unexpected, she was already on schedule to volunteer at Occupy Medical in the center of downtown Eugene.  We decided that I would come with her and volunteer my acupuncture services.

This is a fantastic setup to provide free medical care and a myriad of services to the underserved population in Eugene.  They have doctors, nurses, fresh food, an herbalist, and even a person to cut your hair!  It was a gorgeous warm day and I had a nice little line-up of people to treat.

I have never worked with underserved populations.  Underserved by my definition are people who don’t get enough.  They don’t get enough food, they don’t get enough medical treatment, they don’t get enough comfort, warmth, nurturing, empathy or love.

My second patient of the day was a transsexual prostitute who was afraid to be homeless on the street because of her sexual identity.  She told me a lot of stories, most of which left me slightly stunned and sad.  I usually feel like I have some things to say when I’m working with patients.  Some pretty reasonable, helpful, relatable things to say.

I like to have a golden nugget here and there that someone can take away and feel uplifted by.  It might be ego-y but I feel good making other people feel good.  So when this fellow human says to me, I sell myself for money when I’m depressed, I’m stumped.

I felt kind of like a jerk.  I don’t have a pretty bow to put on this one.  I can’t say, “Yeah, we’ve all been there” and have a laugh because we haven’t.  I had nothing.  Nothing.  I started and stopped.  Silence.  Awkward?  A teeny bit.  But then we just looked at each other.

Okay, I thought.  Let’s just be here.  Because THIS is what is happening right now.  This is her reality.  I didn’t need to make it better or make it different.  My reality and her reality were crossing over and we were just being humans together.  So we just sat for a minute or two looking into each other’s eyes.  I’m saying I hear you, I understand you, that sucks and I love you in my mind.  I hope she felt that.  I think she did.

I treated a young woman who was kicking a speed addiction and was grieving three babies gone on Mother’s Day.  I treated a woman with a painful bunion who was craving more connection with her family of origin.  I treated a very sweet man who wanted to propose to me with a ring made of a pinecone and string.  All were in heavy transition with very loose foundations, all were very anxious, all really, really needed to tell their stories.

The Dalai Lama had just been in Eugene the day before and everyone was quoting him.  It was a bit surreal.  The major theme of his talk seemed to be around compassion, nurturing and the responsibility and power of the feminine.  We were putting these teachings into direct action on this day.

My mother is a registered nurse so she was camped out on the bus checking vital signs and taking care of wounds.  I’m in my own little section of an outdoor tent with just a few battered folding chairs and a metal table that we pulled off her deck and covered with a pretty cloth to use for a workspace.  There was no glamour.  No flannel sheets, no table warmer, no aromatherapy, no music.

It was still perfect and functional.  When you strip away all the bells and whistles, there is just the work.  You just give everything you have to give.  Nothing else is necessary.

Mother Theresa said that the problem of the world was that we have forgotten that we belong to each other.   We are humans.  We are all doing this together.  It makes no difference if I live in a 2 million dollar apartment on Park Avenue or I sleep on cement steps with my dog to protect me.

We will all take hits in this life.  You will never know by looking at someone what kind of trauma they have had to endure.  It does not matter.  We all deserve to give and receive each other’s kindness and utter humanity.

It’s easy to see other humans as annoying, frustrating obstacles.  They are in your way.  They aren’t giving you what you want.  They are frustrating, shady, slow, entitled, etc.

It’s a choice to remember that we are all made of the same stuff.  We all need warmth and touch and sweetness.  Be in it together-even with “strangers.”

Connect and serve.

photo_about

Erin Telford, MSTOM, L.Ac.

Radiant Heart Acupuncture PC
Licensed Acupuncturist | Certified Herbalist
radiantheartacupuncture.com | Phone: 646.266.4019
214 W. 29th Street, Suite 901 | NY, NY 10001

Follow Erin on Twitter!

Erin Telford holds a Masters of Science degree from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in New York City-a rigorous four-year program that included acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, anatomy and physiology, nutrition, Western disease diagnosis, and treatment of over 300 patients. She is a licensed acupuncturist, board certified herbalist and is trained in Constitutional Facial Acupuncture RenewalTM. She has a private practice at the Classical Wellness Center as well as a practice at Yin & Tonic Acupuncture, a clinic focused on women’s health and infertility.

Erin believes in the powerful healing dynamic between patient and practitioner and the body’s innate ability to move towards balance. She uses a blend of traditional Chinese Medicine and 5 Element techniques to gently bring patients into harmony within their body, mind and spirit. Erin believes her role as a practitioner is to nourish life and relieve suffering of the body as well as the heart.

 

Inspiration, loss, love, my book

You Came to Ride The Train.

January 3, 2013

These vehicles vast like the hollows of a secret stuffed in a wooden leg ignite in me something. I can’t name it yet. But I’m on the train, I’m moving. Just because I can’t name it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exists. Beauty I’d like to call it but that seems simple.

The saddest family I have ever seen sits across from me. A man, Pakistani or Indian maybe, with each of his children on either side of him, an arm around the boy and an arm around the girl. He leans over and kisses the little girl’s braided head. She is tall and leggy, maybe ten, maybe twelve, hard to tell, she is so long. The boy is older. They both have downcast eyes. I make up a story. Their mother has just died. I want to fix it. I offer chocolate. It’s all I have. The girl looks up and smiles, and then they all smile, and with a semi-Birtish accent the father says she doesn’t take chocolates. I joke and say Good thing, you shouldn’t take candy from strangers anyway. Plus, I think to myself how the chocolate has brandy in the middle and what was I doing trying to get some kids drunk on the tube in London, anyway?

But I’d wanted to do something. What happened? Why were they so huddled and sad? my mind asked and searched and dug at their broken faces. The heaviness lifted when the father leaned over to kiss the girl’s head, and also when I offered my paltry alcohol filled chocolate. A spark of life flew into the girl’s eyes and the darkness faded for a moment. Not the kind of darkness you would associate with evil or even depression but rather the kind of darkness that comes from riding the train all night without your mother. The cheap black plastic comb sticking out of the backpack that used to belong to her no longer has meaning. It can be anybody’s comb. Get that comb out of here. I hate that comb. Where is my mummy’s comb? all vacillating at once in her face like they were all true statements and questions. (They were. They are.) The kind of darkness that comes with the realization that there is no point in your father carrying around that comb in his backpack except to feel like your mother might sweep down and grab it, and you could all see her one last time, even if it is one second, that would be enough, even one half of one second, while she grabbed the comb and vanishes one last time. So he keeps it sticking out of the backpack front pocket for everyone on the train to see and when no one is looking he picks it up and carefully wipes it down. There is even a darkness in the movements of his eyes, his hands, the comb itself even, the kind of darkness that says You can keep riding the train as long as you want my beloveds, I am never coming back. 

Or maybe it wasn’t that at all. Maybe something entirely different happened. They all looked up though, when I got off the tube at Putney Bridge, and they all waved. I had wanted to stay with them and make it better. Whatever it was. There was a grief so stinking it almost knocked me out when I sat down across from them. I recognized it immediately. I’d known it before. I’d had that thickness of the throat, the turning of the stomach, the looking down for so long at a dead person’s comb that I forgot where I was going. The staying at the waitressing job for 13 years because I was scared to move in a any direction. The riding of the train all night. The clinging to someone, anyone really, so I felt like I hadn’t disappeared into the ether like people were capable of doing.  So what do you call that? 

That which tugs at your coat and scarf and all your winter England layers and says: Look at me. What do you know of this?

I know you, you say with your chocolate offering and whatever gesture you can muster, and for the brief moment before you get off the train, their world is safe. One stop and their world is un-cracked and whole. One stop. One milli-second. One half a second. Until  longer periods of time lapse and they are able to look up and get off the train for stretches of time they can’t even imagine at this point. Not during this dark hour.

What do you call this? Beauty? Humanity? Connection? Knowing?

Inspiration maybe?

Who knows.

What it was on that train exactly, I do know know. But I do know the pits of Hell when I pass through. And I can’t stay. But I can offer a chocolate truffle. I won’t stay. I refuse. Sorry. I may have to go there again in my own world (most of us do) but for this stint, I am not staying. I am just passing through.

I will offer what I can.

Today at the British Museum, my husband and I went and looked at some of the ancient Egyptian antiquities. There was this skeleton. I crouched down onto the floor and got up close, I mean really, really close, so I could see his eyes. His teeth (he actually still had teeth) and his fingers all curled up like he hadn’t been relaxed at all when he died there on the sand. The plaque said that it was the sand that had preserved him and that once tombs came along, bodies stopped being preserved in this way. The man looked so sad. He was in a glass display, curled up their on the floor and however many thousands of years later, he still looked so desperately sad. I crouched down and thought if I could only offer him chocolate he might get up and walk on out of that horrible box. His one hand up around his face like he was protecting himself and his other hand was curled up by his side. His whole body in a fetal position. Man, I get you, I wanted to tell him.

I’ve been there, curled up like that, in my darkest hour. I’ve been a ghost.

But I returned. To the land of the living. Here I am now. Look at me, I whispered, or wanted to, through the glass.

I didn’t get stuck in the sand or put in a box on display or have my pain frozen on my face for the rest of time like you did. And I’m sorry for that. Whatever your pain was. 

I guess that is what it boils down to. Call it what you will. Connection, inspiration, beauty, grace. It’s feeling what others feel as if you are one beating heart without getting your own me me me in the way. It is knowing something at the core of your being and being moved by that without having it define you or immobilize you. It is saying I understand you, Family On The Train. I get you, Dead Egyptian Man.

Maybe it is just called Understanding.

That’s all we ever want most of the time, isn’t it. Understand me.

Please?

Search trains and faces and coffee shops and your house and the blue sky and the grey sky and poems and people with their selfish hearts and their big What can I do for you hearts and whatever it is that you decide to call it, this thing which I cannot truly name, tell yourself that to become a part of it all, this beating mess, is what you must do. That to go out and touch the sleeve and the comb and the heart of another is what you came here for. You didn’t come for the pie. You came for the gut wrenching love and loss and joy and pain and when you see it in another, you get it. You recognize it.

You came to ride the train.

537263_187382914740927_1921682420_n

Forgiveness, Jen Pastiloff, Jen's Musings, Letting Go

When You Finally Forgive.

December 29, 2012

I suppose almost everyone who writes is afflicted some of the time by the suspicion that nobody out there is listening ~Joan Didion

**

Its like this: You get on the bus, you get off, you get on. Its red. Its blue. It doesn’t matter what color it is.

It’s trudging along down the Putney High Street in London. Its speeding down the expressway in New Jersey. You’re on it. That’s the point.

You’re on it and you are always getting on and getting off and taking bags unless you have none but the day you have none hasn’t happened yet, so you get off or on with your bags and you find a seat and you go where the bus takes you. Again and again.

You didn’t know when you got on (not at first, anyway) where the bus was going. But when you see the other passengers, when the lady next to you tells you she talks more, I talk a lot, since my husband died. He was 82- you know. You know exactly where this bus is going.

You tell her: It’s ok. That you will listen.

So you listen.

Here’s what she says: We were married a long time, four kids, nine grandkids. He had an affair, twice. I forgave him. You ever forgive someone like that? Do you know what it’s like just to outright forgive someone like that?

**

There was the time in ninth grade when you walked in and your best friend was kissing the guy you were sort of dating (but totally loved!) and you forgave her. That same guy, whom you reunited with ten years later, after seeing a video camera on his desk the whole two weeks you stayed with him in Philadelphia, you nervously suggested: Why don’t we, you know, video ourselves the last night I’m here? Then watching the tape he sent in the mail (in the mail!) and Oh My God I can’t believe I’m watching this and then realizing that the last night wasn’t the last night at all, but the first and the second night and every night thereafter.

He’d recorded the entire two weeks without your knowledge. A fluke that you happened suggested it that last night. But what if you hadn’t suggested it? He would have still been recording you those other nights and what then? A betrayal you don’t know about- a betrayal nonetheless. Or is it?

If a betrayal falls in the forest and no one knows, does it make a sound? If he records you having sex without your knowledge and you never find out, not when you are thirty, or forty, or say, even on your death bed- does it affect the natural order of things? Have you been betrayed if you know not of it? Does the betrayal still exist?

It was your idea he’d said, you wanted to do this, when you confronted him with all the gumption you possessed in your late twenties. And you forgave him, but you didn’t really, you didn’t know what else to do, you’d never done anything like this before and maybe this is the punishment you got for wanting to be intimate with someone you thought you (totally!) loved by fucking in front of a video camera. Maybe this is what you got? All your kisses and blow jobs recorded without your knowledge and maybe you didn’t forgive at all but rather, stuck that little VHS tape in your back pocket so you could throw out the window of the bus, down into the river? Maybe you didn’t think you had a right to be angry, or that you deserved to have a voice? Maybe you thought you were the one that had to say I’m sorry? So many maybes when we look down the barrel of the past.

Watching yourself on that dumb mailed VHS tape and thinking: That is me.

That is me and that is me, and right there? That is me, without me knowing its me. 

What an asshole, you think.

You have permission to throw him down the river, although with time the asshole-ness will fade and you will shake your head at the outrageousness of it all, and the I can’t believe I got that upset-ness of it all. He will still be an asshole although he may be less of an asshole now that he has kids and has grown up a bit, but that is neither here nor there, is it? He betrayed you and you forgave him, but not really. Not fully, not until you throw him from the bus in the rain and watch the stupid VHS tape drown in the dirty river while people watch and wonder what did that chick chuck from the bus window?

And you think that if they knew you were throwing away anger and resentment and betrayal and not speaking up for yourself and drunken sex that they would understand and clap there on the sidewalk but the truth is that there are no people- no one really cares, they are all too busy fussing over their own scandalous sex tapes and lies and misgivings, and in fact, you threw nothing from the window at all. You just stuck your head out for a little air.

 

Then there was the woman your father was screwing. Before he died. She’d done it with other men as well. You knew. So young, seven years old, and you knew. You know her name (but you won’t say it, not so many years later, not here,) because she probably has her own grandkids now, it was so long ago. She could be like the woman sitting next to you on the bus, for all you know. She could be chatting up a stranger on a bus, trying to talk to anyone who would pay attention. Isn’t that what most of us spend our lives doing anyway? Someone please listen to me? Pay attention.

She started like a cold. No big deal. Then all of a sudden, a full blown flu, like a I think I need to leave my wife and kids flu except that isn’t how you and your mom and sister are left. You are left in the he dropped-dead-in-the-middle-of-the-night-by-choking-on-his own-vomit kind of left.

You forgave that. At least his death.

The woman, the affair, and let’s face it, his death- they’re still with you on the bus with all your other shit.

**

On the way to London my suitcase cracked. The airline damaged it and claimed responsibility. They offered to replace it and send over a new suitcase. I was tempted to say: No, I don’t want to take anything back. Let me leave it all. Every last thing. All my dirty underwear and sweaters and mismatched socks. Who needs it anyway?

My husband: Babe, you need it. You need a case.

Literal, logical, loving husband.

I told the woman all of this on the bus. The beautiful black woman who was 80 but looked 50. The woman whose husband had been with her all of her life (but cheated twice that we know of) and had just died. And now she was left talking and talking and who was listening to me now? she often asked no one in particular, in bank lines and bus stops.

 

New suitcase came. Black with purple satin inside. Like I was royalty. My old case was orange and plastic with wine stains from when a bottle of red wine cracked in it in Paris. It was ugly and stained. And broken. But hell, if I wasn’t sad to see it go. How I wanted to fix it, salvage it, and drag it on and off every bus for the rest of my life.

The old woman on the bus says: Take your shit back with you. Take what you need. Leave the rest.

I lean over and touch her nonchalantly. She’s real.

She says: Get off.

This is your stop.

Or maybe she didn’t say that. Maybe she didn’t say any of that. Maybe it was just time.

 

The Manifestation Workshop in Vancouver. Jan 17th. Book here. No yoga experience required. Only requirement is to  be a human being.

The Manifestation Workshop in Vancouver. Jan 17th. Book here. No yoga experience required. Only requirement is to 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.

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.

10479909_787151138013652_2868102720927920827_o

 

loss

Unspeakable Heartbreak.

December 16, 2012

A girl came up to me in my second yoga class yesterday morning, shaking. She had started to cry and said that since Friday all she could do was think about coming to my class, that it would soothe her. Yikes, I didn’t know how I would do that but I was happy she said something as I already had the theme of class planned. And it was simple: Just send out love to the people in Connecticut.

I had another post planned but it felt so trivial and trite after what happened on Friday. I will still post it in a few days. I am not going to stop living my life and crawl into a cave of grief. Don’t worry.

I do, however, think its important that we mourn and get sad and feel and connect. So my classes this weekend was about THAT and THEM. It is important that we feel and yet not be crippled by that feeling (I have done so in the past) but rather let us remind us what it means to connect. To love deeply. Not let it unravel us completely but just enough that we wake up.

We wake up.

During savasana, I pressed down on the shoulders of the girl who had approached me  and her lip had started to quiver and the tears started again. I was touching her and reminding her what it feels like to be human and to feel safe. How unsafe we all feel.

Not unsafe like we are all worried that we might get shot at any moment (although let’s be honest: that can happen. We just can’t live like it can.) Unsafe in the way we feel when something happens that feels beyond our grasp like finding out you will never get to touch the person you love most again in the world for no reason.

We like to place things into boxes and files and we like to name them and when we can’t we feel unsafe and scared. Let’s say your child gets diagnosed with a very very rare genetic disorder and no matter what you will do, he will die (unsafe! No explanation! Why! Why! Why!) or let’s say one day someone you love more than anyone in the world tells you I just don’t love you (unsafe! How can this be? Why! Why! Why!) or let’s say you send your 6 year old off to school and they wave goodbye to you from behind their larger than life backpack and that is the last time you ever see them. That little hand waving backwards. Someone shoots them down in their classroom (Unsafe! This is not possible! Why! Why! Why!) When we can’t understand something we feel unsafe.

Or at least I do.

When my nephew was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, (Prader Willi Syndrome) before I understood it, I wanted to eat comfort foods and cry and hide behind my husband’s leg like a small child because all I wanted was to feel safe again. How can this happen? How can this be? So many shitty things have already happened in our family, how can one more happen? I need to feel safe. Help!

I hope that girl yesterday released a little of her pain. I actually don’t think it was “her” pain. Nor is it mine. We are feeling THEIR pain when we feel this.

I was angered when I saw someone post on Facebook something to the effect of Oh, stop watching the news! This stuff happens everyday all over the world. Why should this be any different?

Why shouldn’t it be different?

It is different. It is always different. Yes, we all experience loss and some have more tragedy than others, this is true. But why should we not mourn what effects us and why should not more effect us? We don’t let it.

We separate ourselves by saying Thank G-d I wasn’t there. It didn’t happen to me. I am not going to look or pay attention.

Listen to me: Pay attention.

It did happen to you. You were there. You are a human being and this is a call for us to be our most fiercely human selves. Maybe if I knew about every incident or tragedy in the world I would fall apart, maybe it is better that I don’t watch the news every day. All I can say is that to feel is to be human. If you do not feel that all those kids died scared (hopefully it was fast and they didn’t understand) and that people were more brave than I will ever be and lost their lives to protect kids hiding in a closet then just stop for a moment and place your hand over heart because all it means is that you have forgotten. I am asking you to remember.

Do not be confused. I am not talking about gun laws or the mental issue at stake. I have a lot to say about both. But I will save that. I wish his mother hadn’t had the guns and he hadn’t known how to use them. I wish that someone had paid attention and had gotten him help for his mental illness.

I wish I wish I wish I wish.

Meanwhile, I am just so sad still and that’s fine. It will never be fine what happened yet with time the healing will begin.

But not yet. Not yet.

G-d bless them all. I think of my 5 year old nephew and thank whatever kind of bullshit lucky stars there are that it wasn’t him. How fair is that? It’s not!

But it is what it is.

Luck was invented with slot machines and parking spots.

We need to access the deepest parts of our humanity and love fiercely. Always. That will not stop these things from happening. But maybe it will lessen them? I don’t know. All I know is that we cannot turn a blind eye and make pretend that it didn’t happen to us. We will never understand why this happened.

We never supposed to understand this.

It’s impossible for us to place this anywhere in our minds except under “unspeakable heartbreak”.

We will never know where to put this. In a few months it will be something else on the news that will have our mind’s attention, but the heart, the heart must remember this.

May we remember that while we have the capacity to love (and if you are reading this you do! You do!) we must do just that. We must love and love and love and love. We must bring our hands together as a gesture of unity and hope that no matter how much horror we see in our lifetime and how much loss we will never stop expressing our deepest humanity.

For if we do, we have lost all.

%d bloggers like this: