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Abuse, courage, Guest Posts

The Seat: On Domestic Violence.

December 9, 2014


By Candace Roberts.

“Somehow I’ll manage to get through this day, too.” I thought to myself. It was a Monday. I had a full day of blocked lecture hours ahead of me. Ancient Greek History—8:30-10:20a.m., Women and Law—10:30-12:20 and Buddhism—12:30-2:20pm.

“Please, God, let this go by quickly.” I said under my breath. I knew it wouldn’t though and the day’s forecast was adding to my anxiety.

Seattle has flippant weather, sometimes. People that don’t live here usually have a grim view of the Northwest. No thanks to the media, Washington has the reputation of a dreary, depressing, state with consistent downpour. One day I’ll write about the beauties of this weather as they are magnificent and are never given enough credit. But this Monday’s ambience lived up to all of Hollywood’s generalizations. There wasn’t a break of sunlight as it was January and there was a constant airy midst that throughout the day would, at random, turn nasty for a minute. What a little tease, pouring for just a minute. Aside from the rainfall, it was freakin’ cold to the bone.

I looked around and saw that almost everyone, at least the girls anyway, were dressed like me- going for the standard wardrobe pick for Seattle winters. Ugg boots sloshing about, velour sweats tucked in, and a big Northface rain coat with the hoodie tied up under neck. No matter how rough the night before was for the typical college girl, no one really cared about committing fashion faux pas because no one wanted to feel the cold rain. Oh yes, and everyone was bookin’ it to class as fast as they could without looking like that one idiot actually running. Let’s be realistic, we have all been “that guy” before and probably not for the last time either. Whether we were running or not, it was the combination of wet, cold Seattle winter and sweaty college kid that inevitably created a class room environment that was simply gross.

Seated and feeling a hot mess in my unbearably hard, public University, sad excuse for a desk-slash-chair, I realized that the dang chair was actually kind of a problem underneath my bum. Early Greece at 8:30 am was not on my prioritized list of troubles, in fact I don’t remember a single thing that was said in class that day. My body was there…my mind was not. It was traveling methodically through the day that lay ahead of me. This day of scheduled sitting.

“Okay 570 minutes of class—did it before, I can do it again. Forty-five minute commute to work,—same shit, different day…totally do-able. Sitting in my wheelie chair at work for 5 hours— you’re getting paid, deal with it.”

My self-talk that day was not inspirational. It was hardly the usual positive vibe I mentally set myself up with, but it was completely necessary because I needed to distract myself. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Inspiration

The Liberation of Jessie Asya Bronfman

July 19, 2012

Honored to share with you this gorgeous guest post by Jessie Asya Bronfman, who now resides in New York City.

The Liberation of Jessie Asya Bronfman

I’m known as Jessie. I was born Asya. I changed my name at 14 so I wouldn’t get made fun of.

~Painted this in 1999, when I was far from liberated… The journey was/is beautiful.

Like a growing number of lucky yogis, I met Jen Pastiloff as a student in her flow style yoga class (though, really, flow style life class describes it best). The first time I practiced with Jen was in an LA studio poignantly called Liberation Yoga. I had just moved to Los Angeles from New York where I’d been extremely disciplined about my practice. Having adhered to the intense, precise, unwavering Ahstanga yogafor several years, I almost felt guilty stepping into an “unstructured” setting (let’s just say the Ashtangis with whom I’d trained would be bewildered by the blaring music [not to mention—gasp—dancing] that made Jen’s classes so fun).

See, I was born with a type A personality in the former Soviet Union. Discipline and structure were sewn into the fabric of my being.

The lack of that structure – immigration, adolescence, common struggles that color the human experience – was a major factor in the bulimia that tainted my teenage years. Choices (and my inability to choose) overwhelmed me into erraticism, stagnation, and depression which blemished my twenties.

I did all I could to veer away from my persnickety nature. I prided myself on not walking the common path: here I was a Summa Cum Laude business school graduate pursuing an acting career while waitressing, tutoring, and living ascetically to make ends meet. My friends in New York were getting married, settling down; I, on the other hand, had sworn off relationships. I meditated and practiced yoga and Reiki. I signed no leases; I committed to nothing… I was trying so hard to be a free spirit that I forgot what freedom actually felt like. I was so intent on being different that I lost sight of the beauty of simply being human.

When I was eight years old, my family had come to this country seeking freedom. Exactly twenty years later I was still yearning to break free…  It is no wonder that I ended up in Jennifer Pastiloff’s flow class at Liberation Yoga. For this gal (two thumbs pointed at me), flow was exactly what had been missing.

My time in LA did not bring me stardom (as the months passed, it became clear to me that Hollywood fame was not my calling). Instead, this period of my life humbly brought me liberation.

I did a LOT of yoga in LA, I spent time outside (and inside myself), I tutored children (and ate candy with them), I enjoyed the sunshine. I returned to New York with a blank slate: I was no longer an actress, I had left that all-encompassing pursuit behind. I was truly empty (in the Tao sense of the word – in a good way). I was free.

In the year since I have been back, I’ve created a career of sorts (I work as a Content Manager at a digital agency – writing, editing, talking, bullshitting – ya know, it’s a job). I am still looking for a way to integrate my passion into my work:  the love of human stories that drove me to acting, my love of people as whole… Speaking of love, I think I may have found that as well (once I truly opened the door, there it was – another topic in its own right).  My life has its challenges but mostly it is full of wonder and excitement for what will come next. I still practice yoga. Every so often, I find myself pushing too hard. Whether on the mat or in my life, these moments inevitably lead to frustration.

Then I remember:

All is well.

I’ve been liberated.

Just flow.