Browsing Tag

Jennifer Pastiloff

Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, Jen Pastiloff, Jen's Musings

The Struggle Is Real: Body Love.

June 1, 2015

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By Jen Pastiloff

Body image. Self-love. The struggle is real. Or can be. I keep seeing that hashtag everywhere. #Thestruggleisreal. In this case it is.

But it doesn’t have to be.

What if we embraced our bodies? What if we loved our bodies, belly rolls and wrinkles and grey hairs and our butts and our teeth (even the one that’s missing because you never got an implant, Jennifer.) What if?

The struggle is real. Especially for me, having dealt with severe anorexia and exercise bulimia (I used to work out for four to five hours a day. Really.) But maybe it is for you too. I shared this video on my Facebook (the one below) and it got over 70 thousand hits in a few days. So I guess the struggle is real for more than a few of us. I’m not that special. (Isn’t that just a wondrous epiphany- when we realize that we aren’t that special? It’s so freeing! Weeeee! I am not alone in my fucked-upedness.)

What if our bodies became our best friends? As my friend Wren Thompson-Wynn wrote here on this very site, “My body. It’s the only one who has been with me and experienced everything with me through my entire life. No one knows me like my body does. She really should be my best friend. So why don’t I let her be?”

I realized that in writing Girl Power: You Are Enough, and in leading these workshops, that I have to be held accountable. I have to walk the talk, as they say. whoever “they” are, the powers that be, the ones who watch over you and call you out for being full of shit. I can’t sit here feeling my stomach fall over my waistband and have it send me into a panic induced slump of feeling worthless. That rabbit hole is hard as hell to emerge from. I lived in it for years. I wore platform shoes and waited tables on concrete floors as I secretly grabbed my fat rolls and vowed, “Tomorrow I will not eat. Tomorrow I will be good.”

I saw a video last week that broke my heart. This 37 year old woman, Rachel Farrokh, was begging people to help her raise money so she could get treatment for her anorexia. She weighs 45 pounds, her husband has to carry her up and down the stairs because she is so weak. As I watched it, I said, “I was never that bad.” And I wasn’t. But it’s not hard to imagine. That rabbit hole. There it is again. Just a little more and I will be happy. Just a little more and I will be in control. Just a little more and I will be perfect. Just a little more and I will be enough. <<< BULLSHIT.

You never arrive at the destination of “Yes, I am finally here. I finally love myself,” by starving yourself. NEVER.

I hope she gets the help she needs, I really do.

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So I made this video on set (aka my living room) and people went crazy for it. I wanted to barf a little as I was making it and immediately after but I posted it anyway. You can watch below right here.

 

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Jen Pastiloff, Jen's Musings

Sabotage!!

May 22, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Jen Pastiloff.

I warned you that I was going to start blogging again so here I am. Friday night. Feeling kind of disgusted with myself over how disorganized I am, how bad at time management, how messy. If you knew you wouldn’t be my friend anymore. Wait: Are you my friend? Will you be? Gah, I am so needy.

Sometimes I worry that the really earnest people who read me, that they won’t get my sense of humor. But I can’t worry about that, right? < Needy. needy. Right, right? It’s weird because I have this big following (again, barf at the term following) of love and light and namaste people who, when I post the “Don’t be an asshole” videos will say things like: You are not an asshole, Jen. You are human.

Totes. I know this. I know I am not an asshole but I kinda am. We all are kinda assholes, at least sometimes and if you aren’t in on that joke, you are missing the big joke of life. The big joke of life is that we absolutely cannot take ourselves so seriously because we are just not that important. (Cue: Jen, we are so important. We matter.)

We do matter. We are enough. But you know why I tell my yoga peeps not to take themselves seriously, especially at 7 a.m.? Because it is so fucking boring,

It is really boring. Ever hang out with someone who takes themselves really really seriously?

Excuse me while I pour myself a stiff drink because even the thought of that is just. too. much. Continue Reading…

5 Most Beautiful Things, Guest Posts, Jen Pastiloff, Jen's Musings

Douchey.

May 20, 2015

By Jen Pastiloff.

Confession: I miss my blog. I love that I have been able to turn this site into an online magazine. I really do. But I’m gonna sneak my stuff in now and again. This started as my blog but when I realized I had a big “following” << That sounds so douchey, sorry, but when I realized I had a big following I decided I wanted to create a space for other writers. But I’ll be damned, I never write shit down. I don’t take notes or keep a journal (add that to the fact that I can’t type and I am truly not your “typical” writer.) Because of these failings of mine, as it were, I realize that I forget a lot and the way I sort of half-assedly remember is by blogging. I miss it. So hi. Here I am. (Also- is douchey an adjective?) It makes me feel like I think I am Moses when I speak of “my following.” But, you know what I mean. Social media and such.

Wait- hang on while I go part the red sea.

Kidding.

So, this is just a quick update. So much has been happening and if you follow me on social media, you know I don’t hold back. I post like every five minutes so you don’t miss much. But in case you did. This is for you.

I have to make this quick because I am almost done my proposal for my new book for teens, Girl Power: You Are Enough. Eeeeek! (But wait, don’t we all need this book? This reminder? I am enough. You are enough. I am enough. You are enough.) It’s like: tattoo that shit on your brain. How often do I forget this? Every time I can’t hear because of my hearing loss and I feel lost and stupid I slip into not feeling enough. My not feeling enoughness ate up years of my life. It really did.

I am so excited by this project that I haven’t been sleeping. Have you felt excited by something like that before? It’s been a while for me, I must confess. It feels good. It feels, I don’t know, like I am alive. Some days I feel like a walking dead person. So to feel alive feels real good. Real good. I met this girl, Amymarie Gaertner, and we immediately decided we are sisters. Albeit she is my much younger sister. She has MILLIONS (yes, you read right) millions of followers on Vine (what the fuck is Vine I ask?) and Youtube and Instagram. Anyway, she is an ambassador for my GirlPower. She is self-taught. She taught herself how to dance in her mom’s basement. She created this crazy life and is living her dreams because she wanted to dance. And she did.

Here she is again:

 

So that was amazing.

She is spontaneous as anything. Like me. We started walking down Sunset Blvd in West Hollywood and she goes, “Look! Yhat would be cool to dance right there in that stairwell.” We set up my little tripod and, with people all around, and one dude on a ladder painting a ceiling, we danced and laughed. One take. The song: One More Time by Daft Punk. I had to do a voiceover on Facebook because they kept deleting my video for copyright infringement. You can see it on my (or her) instagram though. Damn you, Facebook. Damn you! Continue Reading…

depression, Guest Posts, Truth, Video, Vulnerability

The Truth About Depression. No Bullshit.

May 11, 2015

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By Jen Pastiloff

I just got back from leading a beautiful retreat for Mother’s Day. I feel hung over today. From love. Is that even a thing? It is now. I’m in bed trying to process it all. One of my favorite writers came, Christa Parravani, who is a dear friend. She wrote the book Her. If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend it highly. I also partnered with Christy Turlington Burns’ Every Mother Counts and gave away a free spot. It was a remarkable and heart-mending weekend. It is truly a great honor to support Every Mother Counts.

At one point, we were talking about depression and I mentioned an essay I had written last year on my own depression and how I had gone off of my anti-depressants. I said to the group, “I wrote this essay about going off my meds. I’m back on now and I haven’t written about it because it’s no one’s business.” It’s not. I am not ashamed of it but it’s not my job to alert the media of everything. So I said that and then decided that maybe I should make a video about it. Who knew my videos were going to be such a thing. Must be the high production value. (Not.)

So I had a beautiful lunch and went out to sit in the cacti and I couldn’t do it. My hands were shaking and I started to sweat. I started and stopped it five times. I couldn’t do it.

I never get scared to make videos or write. Except when I do. And when I do, it’s usually something that I have to do.

Like I always say, I am afraid I a lot. But I do it anyway. I buy my fear a cup of coffee (or wine) and show it how it’s done.

I thought that making a video about being back on my anti-depressants was like a who the f*ck cares? kind of thing. I mean, I am not curing cancer or saving babies. Who cares that I take meds? But after I shared that I was back on and I was not ashamed five people in five minutes came up to me to thank me.

I had hired a sound therapist to give a sound concert for the people at my retreat with Tibetan singing bowls and a gong. Her name is Fawntice Finesse and she’s magic. For real. Anyway. We went into the yoga studio for the concert. Everyone was lying on their mats with their eyes covered and their socks and I shot up. I knew I had to make the video. I quietly stepped over all the bodies as the sun was setting and, with still shaking arms, made the video below.

I am not ashamed of being on anti-depressants. This is not to create a debate about whether you should or should not be on meds. This is not to discuss which meds I am on or how many milligrams. This is to create an honest discussion about depression, about how it does not define us, about how we must do what it takes to get out of bed. How it does not define us. Just like if you have cancer, you are not your cancer. You are not your job. You are not your depression.

I remember when that essay of mine went viral. I made the mistake of reading a few comments before I realized I was never to do that again. Maybe you should reconsider leading “inspirational” retreats, lady? Maybe you should stop taking people’s money? Maybe you should do more yoga?

I never call my retreats inspirational just like I never call myself an inspiration. If someone says that about me, well, I have no say in that. I do my best to share about my own journey and to have a sense of humor. And to love. That’s it.

My workshops are not woo-woo although Kaisa McDonnall Coppola, from my Mother’s Day Retreat said this, “Loved loved loved the retreat. I can’t imagine how you even describe your retreats other than kumbaya-badassness-where we get to say ‘fuck’ out loud and in our journals. Thank you, Jen…you are sending out ripples of coolness all over the world.”

We do (a little) yoga, we share, we listen, we let the snot fly, we sing, we pay attention. I am certainly not preaching “Positive thinking.”

But there was a little part of me that was afraid that I was shooting myself in the foot by talking so openly about this stuff. I realized, however, that this was precisely why I had to share. I want to take the stigma away from this. I am not encouraging you to walk down the street vomiting your secrets or over-sharing. But I realize there is so much shame and misunderstanding surrounding mental health and depression that perhaps I would be doing a great disservice if I wasn’t forthcoming. After all, I am not ashamed, so why not speak of it?

I have been depressed since I can remember. Then my dad died and that nearly took the life out of me. I left NYU with one year left after being a scholar because of my severe depression and anorexia. And yet, I never did a damn thing about it. When I finally had another breakdown years later at the restaurant I had been working at for thirteen years, I finally went on anti-depressants.

And they saved my fucking life.

Did they make me “happy?”

No.

But they threw down a rope into the well I had been stuck in and I began to climb out, little by little. And my life changed. And I didn’t want to die anymore.

Cut to about a year and a half or two years ago. My life was “amazing” by any standards. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to get pregnant but I knew I couldn’t with the particular meds I was taking so I began to ween off because hey, my life was amazing and I maybe wanted to have a baby. Maybe.

The truth: It was terrible being off. My life was amazing amazing amazing just look at her amazing life and yet, I couldn’t even get out of bed to brush my teeth. But still, I stayed off. I weened off slowly.

I would get hundreds of emails a day (yes, a day), and lead retreats and I had a great husband and yet.

I felt flat and like a nothing person.

All the amazingness does not matter when you have something chemically awry in your brain or you are dealing with depression. I don’t need to remind any of us of Robin Williams, do I?

I finally was completely weened off (I went very slowly as I couldn’t afford to go through any serious withdrawal.) The minute I was 100% clear of my meds, we tried to get pregnant. Once.

And it worked.

It was an emotional roller coaster, to say the least, and then, the pregnancy ended up being ectopic.

Here I am, off my meds. Pregnant and then no longer pregnant. I am slowly slipping father and farther drown the rabbit hole. Then, I break my foot.

You would have thought I was dying. It affected me so profoundly and I fell into possibly the darkest place I have ever been in. Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts, Video, Vulnerability

The Body Remembers. (Vulnerability Alert.)

April 27, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Jen Pastiloff

Today, on what would be my dad’s 70th birthday. I’m wearing my LOVE sign for him. I wept watching Parenthood last night in bed here in Seattle. (I’m almost finished with the show so please, no spoilers.) I miss my dad every day. I feel cheated every day. I will never “get over it” but yet, I am here. I am not dead. I get out of bed. (Most days.) I lost my license in security and felt frustrated and upset even though I was wearing my LOVE sign. And then I realized that it was his birthday and how the body remembers. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Manifestation Retreats, motherhood

Jen Pastiloff, Christy Turlington Burns & Every Mother Counts Give Back This Mother’s Day.

April 22, 2015

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Do good for yourself, while helping us improve maternal health. Join me over Mother’s Day weekend, May 8-10th, for a 3 day retreat in Ojai, CA, where a portion of proceeds will benefit Christy Turlington’s Every Mother Counts. Please mention the organization when booking. Click here to sign up or email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com.

Every Mother Counts is a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother.

They inform, engage, and mobilize new audiences to take actions and raise funds that support maternal health programs around the world.

To join in this retreat you do Not have to be a mother. Just be a human being with a heart. No yoga experience required although there will be some yoga within the workshops.

I am so excited to support my friend Christy and EMC!

Christy Turlington Burns is a mother, social entrepreneur, model, and founder of Every Mother Counts. Having endured a childbirth complication herself, Christy was compelled to direct and produce the documentary, No Woman, No Cry about maternal health challenges that impact the lives of millions of girls and women around the world. As a result of her global advocacy work she was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2014, Glamour Magazine’s Woman of The Year in 2013, and one of Fast Company’s Most Creative Minds in 2013. Prior to her work as a global maternal health advocate, Christy enjoyed a successful career as a model while continuing her education and pursuing other interests. She has co-created public health communications campaigns about smoking cessation and prevention since 1997 and launched an award-winning website, SmokingIsUgly.com. Christy is also the author of Living Yoga: Creating A Life Practice (Hyperion 2002) and has written countless articles, essays and op-eds for magazines and newspapers on the subjects of wellness, maternal health, feminism, poverty eradication and human rights. Christy is a member of the Harvard Medical School Global Health Council, an advisor to the Harvard School of Public Health Board of Dean’s Advisors and on the advisory Board of New York University’s Nursing School. She holds a BA from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Studies and has studied Public Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. A three-time marathon finisher, Christy resides in New York City where she lives with her husband, filmmaker Edward Burns, and their two children.

ps, Christy is running the London Marathon this coming weekend on 4/26 to raise funds and awareness about the fact that thousands of women and girls still live too far away from the care and supplies needed to ensure safe motherhood. You can check it out here. 

I love you , Christy!

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Mother's Day Retreat! Join Jen Pastiloff in Ojai, Calif this May for a life-changing weekend retreat. May 8-10th. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being.  Click photo to book.   "Here’s the thing about Jen Pastiloff, folks. Here’s the revolutionary thing. She listens. She listens with an intent focus, a focus that follows your words inside you. Because she has hearing problems, she watches your lips as you speak, and she plucks the ash of your words from the air and takes it inside herself and lays it beside her heart, where before too long your words start beating as if they were strong, capable, living mammals. And then she gives them back to you. Boiled down, this is the secret to Jen’s popularity. She can call what she does Beauty Hunting–she is for sure out there helping people find beauty. She can start a campaign called “Don’t be an asshole” and remind us all to stop a second and please, please, please be our better selves. She can use words like attention, space, time, connection, intimacy. She can ask participants to answer questions like What gets in your way? What stories are you carrying around in your body? What makes you come alive? Who would you be if nobody told you who you were? All of that is what it is. But why it works is because of her kind of listening. And what her kind of listening does is simple: It saves lives." ~ Jane Eaton Hamilton.

Mother’s Day Retreat! Join Jen Pastiloff in Ojai, Calif this May for a life-changing weekend retreat. May 8-10th. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. Click photo to book.
“Here’s the thing about Jen Pastiloff, folks. Here’s the revolutionary thing.
She listens.
She listens with an intent focus, a focus that follows your words inside you. Because she has hearing problems, she watches your lips as you speak, and she plucks the ash of your words from the air and takes it inside herself and lays it beside her heart, where before too long your words start beating as if they were strong, capable, living mammals. And then she gives them back to you.
Boiled down, this is the secret to Jen’s popularity. She can call what she does Beauty Hunting–she is for sure out there helping people find beauty. She can start a campaign called “Don’t be an asshole” and remind us all to stop a second and please, please, please be our better selves. She can use words like attention, space, time, connection, intimacy. She can ask participants to answer questions like What gets in your way? What stories are you carrying around in your body? What makes you come alive? Who would you be if nobody told you who you were? All of that is what it is. But why it works is because of her kind of listening.
And what her kind of listening does is simple:
It saves lives.” ~ Jane Eaton Hamilton.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Self Image, Self Love, Young Voices

A 19 Year Old Girl Talks About “Being Enough.”

April 20, 2015

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By Sarah B Levine

Note from Jen Pastiloff: I am currently writing a book for young girls based on the workshop that Lara Heimann and I have co-created: Girl Power: You Are Enough. Last week I was in my hometown of Philadelphia leading one of my workshops and right before it started I bumped into a beautiful young girl. I asked her if I could interview her. She said yes, having no idea what I would ask her. (My kind of human!!) The video is at the bottom so you can watch after you read her stunning post. I put a call out to young girls to write about when they feel the best about themselves, if they feel like they are enough, and a letter to their younger or future selves. I intend to include some in the book. (The book will also feature letters from various women to their younger selves, such as Christy Turlington, Cheryl Strayed, Ashley Ford Megan Stielstra, Emily Rapp, Angela G. Patel, Rachel Pastiloff, Lara Heimann, Rene Denfeld, Lidia Yuknavitch, Suleika Jaouad and more. I am so excited by this project that I haven’t been able to sleep. That and I have been binge watching Parenthood on Netflix but that’s a whole other story. It’s been a dream of mine to work with young women yet I had no idea how to start making it happen. Then, it just happened organically. They started coming to my workshop, in droves. So Lara and I gave birth to this baby. Girl Power: You Are Enough.

The time is now for this. So the beautiful girl I bumped into at the studio saw my call on Facebook and submitted her post. I wanted to share it here because, well. You’ll see. May we all remember that we are enough.

May we have people that remind us.

ps- I am reminding you. YOU are enough.

*  *  *  *

Dear Jen,

As per requested on your Facebook, I decided to answer what it means to be enough. And after a couple of hours at my computer going through tears, smiles, snorts of laughter and everything in between I feel I have captured a part of me I had been unable to acknowledge for a long time. A part of me that has been quiet and dormant as a voice in the back of my head for a long time. A part of me, I feel is also a part of many other girls, boys, young and old all over.

Thank you for already making a change in my life this past week. Everything happens for a reason.

Sarah B Levine (The girl you met at  your Dhyana yoga studio in Philadelphia impromptu interview)

 

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All of this happened in the comfort of my own home and mind. I crossed path with a number of people in my life that all encouraged me loved me and supported me and saw I was an old soul. Rarely what I am writing is what majority of those people got to see. This is what I saw when I looked in the mirror.

Why am I enough?

Why should I be enough? Who am I enough for? Who would ever love me? Why can’t I be looked at like that, with admiration? Why do my legs touch? Why is my nose so big, my belly not as toned or my butt droopy? Don’t take my picture it might point out a new flaw. My teeth aren’t as white or straight as hers. My hair isn’t as curly; I wish it were naturally more beautiful than I wouldn’t have to try so hard. These are the things that would go through my mind- sometimes more often than not. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Video, Vulnerability

Hate.

April 7, 2015

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By Jen Pastiloff

So, I am going to start posting more of my (totally high-production level) videos here since they are spreading like wildfire on the interwebs and my Facebook page. I take requests too! Any topic you want tackled? I have fun with these, I try and laugh at myself, I don’t take myself too seriously and I do my best to tell the truth and to tell it like it is. I do my best to not be an asshole. Sometimes, I am. Naturally.

Anyway, today’s is based on request. I blended three requests together because, well, I can. This one seemed to touch a lot of my Facebook tribe so I hope it resonates with you, as well. Walking around with hate in our hearts is so damn exhausting, if nothing else. Watch the videos and leave your comments below.

These are totally off-the-cuff, impromptu, in my living room. I push all my shit out the way so you can’t see my mess. Tricky, huh?

Love, Jen Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Jen Pastiloff, Jen's Musings, Video

Haters Gonna Hate. Taking Things Personally.

March 29, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88Happy Sunday! I make loads of videos (shockingly bad production valyue, but hey!) which you can find on my Youtube channel here.

Today’s (well, I made 2, as you will see after you watch video. Go to my Facebook page or Youtube to watch first), today’s is about taking things personally. One of my faves.

Haters gonna hate.
Lovers gonna love. (Pssst…I say we love!)

This one is on taking things personally. Do you? I do at times.

But I get over it quicker now. That’s the thing- recovery time gets quicker. Are you going to take what “they” say as truth?

Also this: don’t defend who you are. And yes, some people may not like you. But so so many do. I do.

I like you.
**
Personal
BY TONY HOAGLAND

Don’t take it personal, they said;
but I did, I took it all quite personal—
the breeze and the river and the color of the fields;
the price of grapefruit and stamps,
the wet hair of women in the rain—
And I cursed what hurt me
and I praised what gave me joy,
the most simple-minded of possible responses.
The government reminded me of my father,
with its deafness and its laws,
and the weather reminded me of my mom,
with her tropical squalls.
Enjoy it while you can, they said of Happiness
Think first, they said of Talk
Get over it, they said
at the School of Broken Hearts
but I couldn’t and I didn’t and I don’t
believe in the clean break;
I believe in the compound fracture
served with a sauce of dirty regret,
I believe in saying it all
and taking it all back
and saying it again for good measure
while the air fills up with I’m-Sorries
like wheeling birds
and the trees look seasick in the wind.
Oh life! Can you blame me
for making a scene?
You were that yellow caboose, the moon
disappearing over a ridge of cloud.
I was the dog, chained in some fool’s backyard;
barking and barking:
trying to convince everything else
to take it personal too.

Continue Reading…

Beating Fear with a Stick, Guest Posts

Snakes & The Things That Shut Us Down.

December 30, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Jen Pastiloff.

I went with my sister to take my nephew to school yesterday in Georgia. Ola Elementary School. We drove right up and parked in front like we were loading or unloading, which, I guess we were. Blaise gets excited by school. School! School! Schoolbus!

He’s in kindergarten, which he will repeat again next year. He has a rare genetic disorder called Prader Willi Syndrome and autism.

He loves school and cries the snot-running-down-the-face-kind-of-cry if he has to miss it for any reason.

Me? I hated school. I was reminded of that hatred yesterday morning as I walked the narrow little hallway to take him to the therapy room where he plays with the other kids who have special needs.

I smelled that same school smell and immediately felt nauseas there in McDonough, Georgia, a suburb just south of Atlanta which proudly hosts a church on just about every corner and sometimes even in the shopping center.

I haven’t been inside an elementary school in at least 25 years and yet that smell hit my nose like a familiar thing: a cup of coffee, the way the back of my hand smells, gasoline, my husband’s pillow. It was as if all at once I knew it like any of the other mundane things in life. The things of the everyday. As if my nose never forgot This is what school smells like! And the minute it registered the scent, like a dog, I was there, right up in it, tail wagging, crying that I didn’t want to go back. Don’t make me go!

I always preferred to stay at home with my parents then to go to school just as I preferred to hang out with adults when I was a kid. School was insular. It made me feel claustrophobic and lonely at the same time. As the school year would progress, I would make my way in the world, as people do, but still, I hated it.

Come September every year I would have the same anxiety. Don’t send me back.

In fact, I almost didn’t graduate high school because I was absent so many days. I suppose literally and figuratively although I am sure they meant literally. I hardly went.

Isn’t it just a miraculous thing how a smell can do that for us? Bring us right back to the third grade, sitting at our desk, pulling our thumb out of our mouth because someone finally said You shouldn’t suck your thumb at your age. Especially not in public. It’s the first time someone has pointed this out to you and you want to crawl under the desk, inside the desk. You want to disappear into your own mouth.

The things that shut us down.

Someone telling us we’re not good enough, or fat, or shouldn’t suck our thumb in front of other people. The things that stop us and make us go Maybe you are right. 

I worry about my nephew being shut down. I worry that as he gets older people will make fun of him and that it will slowly disarm him.

Little by little, we are eaten away by people. By life. By opinions. By defeat. Until we are hardly recognizable as that thumb sucking 8 year old.

I worry about that even though I know I shouldn’t.

Blaise and my sister were just on The Doctors on CBS to talk about Prader Willi Syndrome. People with PWS (as it is commonly called) never feel full. They literally feel like they are starving and can actually eat themselves to death. There are a whole host of other issues that come along with it as well but the food thing feels like the most torturous. The behavior issues, a close second. It’s a spectrum disorder too, as I suppose all of life is. So all bets are off.

The producers of the show sent my sister equipment so that she could videotape him every time he had one of his meltdowns. They would take the footage she sent and edit it for the show.

We cried when we saw the finished piece as part of the show. It was horrible to watch him begging for food and all the photos of him as a baby when he’d gained all the weight as they put it together slickly with foreboding music. I am glad they did it that way as it was probably more effective. We are visceral beings. We respond to scary music. We respond to kids suffering. We respond to things that make us feel vulnerable and helpless. We respond to big things.

Subtlety doesn’t go over well with the masses.

Apparently when Blaise saw the footage at school (they watched it in his kindergarten class) he said I a fat baby. 

He came from school and asked me to watch it on my computer, over and over. I watched him watch himself on tv and it seemed like he was having a surreal experience, which most of life is anyway. Is that really me? Is this really happening?

It’s like he is starting to become aware that there is a difference between him and other kids. He’s looking at himself with discernment and seeing a difference in himself, which he doesn’t fully understand. Just like with the rest of us. Perhaps he never will.

I see a difference in myself and yet I don’t understand it.

We’re not all that different. His 15th chromosome might be partially deleted but we’re not all that different. He knows on a guttural level that watching the show makes him sad even though he keeps asking to watch it over and over. Then suddenly: Off! Turn it off. Away!

Just like us. Eventually we all get sick of ourselves at one point or another.

He loves school because, so far, everyone there loves him. None of the kids bully him and no one rejects his hugs. No yet anyway. He gets to hang out in the therapy room and jump on a bouncy castle and make crafts and learn letters.  B. B is for Blaise.

I was not happy as a child and my first memories of kindergarten didn’t involve jumping on bouncy castles. I went to a Jewish day school where it was Hebrew all morning and English all afternoon. It was some serious business. Even in kindergarten. I couldn’t handle the anxiety school instilled in me.

I wanted the safety of my house and my cream cheese and olive sandwiches.

Things got worse after my dad died. The school was terribly small, only a handful of kids in each class, and I felt exposed and ashamed. Everyone knew I was fatherless. And that I sucked my thumb.

I was glad when we moved away to California for 4th grade.

I didn’t hate school as much once I left the yeshiva school in Jersey but I was never one of those kids that couldn’t wait for summer to end. I used to get depressed on Sundays because the next day was Monday. I couldn’t even enjoy Saturday nights because I knew the next day was Sunday, which meant Monday was right there, jaws open, waiting to eat you alive.

School shut me down. I didn’t feel smart. Maybe I couldn’t hear back then either? I can’t remember. I just remember hating it.

The things that shut us down.

As I was walking through Ola Elementary School yesterday morning I thought how happy I felt that I would never have to be back in school. I would never again have to deal with that shutting down, with that pressure. (Enter foreboding music and slickly edited images.)

Maybe nothing will ever shut Blaise down? Maybe he will keep wanting to hug everyone even though everyone might prove to be an asshole sometimes.

I was on the plane when I started this piece, as I often am when I write, and, I got stuck, as I often do when I write. I closed the computer and my own eyes watching the back of my eyelids butterfly their way into quiet.

We landed and I turned on my phone.

An email came through from a man named “Kevin” accusing me of not crediting people and not having integrity and how he should call me out in front of all my Facebook followers and how he wasn’t a fan of ego and Good Luck to me. 

Good luck. It seems like the two worst words in the English language when someone says it and really means “Fuck You.”

Who was this man? Who didn’t I credit? What’s he talking about? Is it even a real name or email?

It wasn’t until last night, in the middle of the night, as I lay awake in a river of I Can’t Sleep did I realize how profound it was that the email came in when it did. Sure, I was upset. Look, I literally want to crawl out of my skin and wail when I feel like people take my own work. I want to email them and sue them and say It’s not fair! But I don’t. I breathe and write. Then I write more.

The email came in and shut me down. The things that shut us down.

I went to teach my yoga class and felt ungrounded and sloppy. I was an alien and everyone stared at me with my two heads. I was tired and mean and shut down.

How quickly I was back in the third grade, thumb in mouth, then under my me in shame. How I would have cut my thumb off if I could’ve. How quickly that email brought me back to school. To being shut down.

The things that shut us down.

So Kevin: Good Luck to You. And yes, I mean “Fuck You.”

Look, don’t worry, I’m over it. I almost shut down. My impulse was to hide. To stop writing for a while. To stop sharing. To cut my thumb off.

You know why I won’t shut down? I have the choice. We always do. Who or what are we going to give the power to? This “dude”, if it even was a dude, didn’t even say what he was referring to. And yet I was going to accept it as a truth? As some validation that I am a bad person? No. My choice is No. My choice is I will not shut down. 

It’s okay to get angry once in a while. Does that make me a bad yogi? Then so be it. Get angry and then let it go. As I did. But, refuse to shut down. Get angry and get it out of your body like a snakebite. Suck that venom out and know that it was you who handled the poison like a champ.

If anyone tries to shut you down you must deal with it as you would a snake bite. Sometimes it’s: It’s not poisonous, keep walking. Sometimes it’s: I don’t know what to do. And sometimes it’s: I am getting this out of my body as fast as possible and running far far away because I know it will try and kill me if I let it.

You get a choice. The snake can’t help its nature.

The snakes will always be there but if we step over them and around them and keep going, we hardly notice because they mostly leave us alone.

I think there might be caves though, where all the shut down people live. They live alone in dark holes of the earth and wait for everyone to say It’s Okay before they come out. They never speak and they hardly look up. They are scared and frail but every once in a while when they do look up, they see a light in the sky and remember what they once were.

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

VANCOUVER! 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. 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.

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.

Don't Be An Asshole Series, Gratitude, Guest Posts

What Doesn’t Kill You.

December 1, 2014

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By Jen Pastiloff.

I wrote this for Thanksgiving but hey, it’s still close enough to Thanksgiving. It’s “Cyber Monday.” Who the hell uses the word “cyber” anymore, anyway? Happy Cyber Monday! Another reason to shop! This is America!

This was my T-Day post:

Sometimes it’s hard to be grateful. Two of my friends just lost their sisters two days apart, right before Thanksgiving. This little boy, Benny, the one I posted about a few weeks ago (click here to donate), is legally blind, has Prader Willi Syndrome like my nephew Blaise, has had fifteen surgeries on his back, and now, just last month, had an accident that left him paralyzed. Happy Thanksgiving.

Not.

But the thing is, and I mean, this really is the crux of my forthcoming book Beauty Hunting – we must find the good in the bad, we must find the slivers of beauty in the pain, we must find what we have to be grateful for. Otherwise – life is torturous and ugly and mean and filled with pot-holes.

I created this series I’ve written about called “The Don’t Be An Asshole” series or otherwise known as The DBAA Series, whereupon I make fun of myself. I call myself out. I hope to lead by example and remind us all not to take ourselves so seriously, because hey, life sure can suck at times already. Why should we add to that suckiness?

Continue Reading…

Don't Be An Asshole Series, Gratitude, Guest Posts

Happy Thanksgiving Or “Don’t Be An Asshole” Day!

November 27, 2014

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By Jen Pastiloff

Happy Thanksgiving! I realize many of the readers of this site are not in The U.S. so I have also named this holiday The Don’t Be An Asshole Day because really, what better day to not be one? To be grateful? It’s a perfect day to NOT be an asshole.

Last night I was talking to one of my most cherished friends (Annie Sertich) about the joys of getting older. I am being a bit sarcastic (crows feet, drooping eyes, receding hairline, ext) but hear me out: I am very grateful to get older. My dad did not get that. He did get to say, “Wahhh, poor me, I am turning 40.”

Getting older is a joy. Even if sometimes the things that happen to our bodies and skin and hair and all the rest don’t feel like it. It’s an honor. Continue Reading…

courage, Guest Posts, Manifestation Workshops

What Fear Looks Like.

November 26, 2014

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By Jen Pastiloff.

This was my status update on my Facebook just now but I thought I would share here since some of you crazy (read: smart) kids are not on Facebook:

Let me tell you about stepping out of your comfort zone and fear and being ballsy and what that looks like to me.

A few years back I started doing these workshops which have since morphed into something else entirely. I have no idea what to name this thing. What to call it. It’s not really a “yoga” thing but I do it at yoga studios and we sit on yoga mats.

It’s not really a writing thing because you don’t have to be a writer or even like writing, but we write.

And we share. And we laugh. And we cry.

And it’s heavy but also really really light.

And like, how do you describe that? How do you say, call up a studio in Chicago and say, “Hey, I want to come do this thing I do there at your place. I can’t really describe it. You’ll just have to see for yourself. People will come. Trust me.”

And I mean, there’s a deep knowing that I will sell it out (but there’s also the other part of me that’s like, “OMG, you have never been to Chicago or Vancouver or whatever city it is. Who do you think you are?”)

But.

I do not listen to that voice for very long. I put on my big girl panties and shut that voice up and carry on with my cup of coffee and hush that little voice that says, “How dare you create something that is not definable and expect people will show up?”

Why do I hush that voice?

Because I did do that. I am doing that.

Is it scary as f*ck? Yes. Continue Reading…