What Jen Pastiloff’s Retreat is Like: According to a 22 Year Old.January 21, 2016
By Haley Jakobson.
Imagine you are 22 and freshly graduated and suddenly sucked into the city of New York like a vacuum, dust pounding into your ears and grit clouding your eyes. Imagine that you feel very alone, despite your dad being a ride away on the 6 train and your college friends scattered around Manhattan like bread crumbs. Imagine you are depressed with a heavy coating of anxiety, a strong nail lacquer that you can’t chip off with the underside of your fingernail. And now you are at work, and despite all of these things, or maybe because of them, work still bored you and you find yourself scrolling through the vortex of your Instagram feed.
This is when you find her. Somewhere buried beneath the yoga pictures that intimidate you and the dogma that comes with them that sometimes bites you from inside the screen, somewhere beyond the pictures of Saturday night snapshots that might have been forgotten otherwise, and hungover Sunday brunch photos you were invited to be a part of but were too sad to join – you find her. She says: “girl power you are enough.” She says “fuck.” A lot. She says, “don’t be an asshole.” Well, duh, you think – and then remember how often you forget this. You read on. Continue Reading…
Why I Make Time To Get AwayOctober 2, 2015
By Nina Carroll
I realize there are many facets to why I need time to get away. The most important is that my spirit calls me to a sacred safe space to breathe in the many possibilities life offers me. I become my true authentic self when I observe me in an environment living each present moment. The getting away helps me to balance the distractions of my daily hustles and bustles to work, obligations towards family, friends and my struggles with my monetary responsibilities to live a sustainable lifestyle within the everyday mundane stuff. I rather “let go” and surrender these attachments and/or entanglements. I realize they do not always serve me. Instead, I try to practice staying focus on my internal state I discover unravels and empowers an authenticity of my true self.
I recently had the privileged of a two weeks stay at a remote artist community. The best two weeks I had given myself for quite some time. A dream had come true for me. The setting was in a valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I felt more alive, free and open, being just where I was without any reservations or second thoughts. I was able to contemplate, reflect, meditate with being my true self with everything and everyone life introduced and offered me in this surroundings. I took nature walks, read and wrote poetry by a running creek, soothed my wounds in a natural hot springs that baptized my soul, which soared me further up into the majestic mountains. Until, alas I found myself one night sleeping under a bush thicket with bare necessities not making it back in time to my destination. I realize this became the catalyst catapulting the time needed to reveal what I was to experience during this getaway. My spirit had guided me to a place, where I had to recognize I must live life to its fullest no matter where I need to getaway.
However, I need time to getaway to a place that becomes a sacred space for me. Where my healing can begin to process in this space, so my spirit and I can connect. In this space my spirit helps me to facilitate and make an assessment of my spiritual, mental, emotional and physical state of well- being. I consciously make an effort not to resist my inner needs calling, but to go further, deeper within myself to alleviate whatever is pulling me away from hearing those needs. This getaway becomes the perfect time where I show-up, seek my truth; shine my light. I can relax, unwind, meditate as I take a deep inhale and breathe through my heart, mind and soul; exhale slowly to discern what entangled discords, distortions and defenses I have built around them. I practice releasing these blockages daily through meditation. A vital source that helps me to heal my heart, mind and soul, so I can easily, gently and openly flow with my spirit and life.
On Fear & Beauty: One Man’s Thoughts.February 18, 2015
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.
Not Just For The Ladies.September 24, 2014
By David Krause.
Note from Jen: David just attended one of my workshops in South Dakota and posted this on my Facebook wall. I am blown away, to say the least.
ManifestStation Workshops-Not Just for the Girls.
I was in Santa Monica last April visiting some friends and thought I’d try yoga.
Jen instructed the 2nd class I ever attended (I had no idea how big of a deal she is-I was pretty lucky). I struggled through class but loved it. Afterward I thanked her for being patient with a rookie from South Dakota. She laughed and invited me to her workshop in Sioux Falls, SD in September. ‘See you there!’ I said, having no idea what a workshop was, but struck mainly by her enthusiasm and energy.
Months later, I learned that 1-Jen is a legend in the yoga world, and 2-yoga workshops involve journaling and talking about feelings.
I like to play sports, climb mountains, shoot trap, fly fish, and look for sweet deals on shotgun shells to shoot trap with. So I don’t have a journal, and I will listen to anyone talk about their feelings but don’t do much with mine. Skeptical about attending, I thought Jen would forget and I could stay in my comfort zone.
More months later, Jen remembered, and wrote on my Facebook timeline where, when, and that I should bring a journal.
Like an absolute goofball, I messaged her – ‘what is class like? I don’t journal much. I’m not sure if this is for me.’ She got down to brass tacks and told me it’s about getting out of my comfort zone.
For 3 hours that night I could be found 100 miles from my nearest comfort zone-45 female yoga pros and the lone male in his late 20s.
It was totally necessary and entirely enlightening. I could end up being pretty damn boring if I’m focused only on being a resident the next 5 or 6 years. I could miss the moments in life to smile, to make somebody smile, and to be fully human.
I could neglect current relationships and not make new ones.
But for 3 hours Jen led and taught me how to prevent that with introspection and a consistent sense of wonder. Jen has that light which lets you know she’s fully human. It is evident that she feels more intensely, more keenly, more loudly. She’s sharing that with the world-the boys just need to show up with an open mind.
And yes . . . a journal!” ~ David in South Dakota.
Note from Jen again: Hi, it’s me again. I wanted to share this for the men. You can come. You see? It’s not just for the ladies! See you Sat in NYC!
For a list of Jen’s upcoming events click here.
The Goodest Hardest Look At Yourself.August 19, 2014
By Jennifer Pastiloff
Annie Sertich and I were having coffee last week (she is a fantastic author and actress) and she decided to give me an impromptu interview. I shared it on my Facebook page and got a myriad of reactions.
Listen folks, I would never, and I mean never- and you can quote me on this if you want to, which I doubt you do- but I would never knock waiting tables.
Ask. The Vlog.January 21, 2014
Ask. For. What. You. Want.
Ask for what you want? And why shouldn’t you?
The worst that will happen? A No.
In the words of The Smiths ( a band I love) in a song called “Ask”:
“Shyness is nice, and
Shyness can stop you
From doing all the things in life
You’d like to
So, if there’s something you’d like to try
If there’s something you’d like to try
ASK ME – I WON’T SAY “NO” – HOW COULD I ?
Coyness is nice, and
Coyness can stop you
From saying all the things in
Life you’d like to
So, if there’s something you’d like to try
If there’s something you’d like to try….
Making Sh*t Happen: The Experience of a Lifetime.January 2, 2014
New Year #MSH by Martha Meyer Barantovich
A perfectly perfect day. A perfectly perfect time of year. A perfectly perfect opportunity for relaxation.
It would seem that flying to LA and driving the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH for all the cool kids) while watching the sun set into the water was a brilliant idea. Ojai, California was the backdrop for an amazing retreat with Jennifer Pastiloff, of the New Jersey Pastiloffs and of Karaoke Yoga/Manifestation Workshop fame. I had signed my beloved husband Joe (heretofore “My Lobster) and myself up for Jen’s Inaugural Manifestation New Year’s Retreat.
I walked in feeling like I was hanging onto my last ounce of sanity and left more than transformed, with enough life changing memories and lessons that will stick with me forever.
Broken, Battered, Bewildered and Beautiful.
Walking into a room full of strangers, on my 47th birthday, and trying to express in a circle what it means to be at a Manifestation retreat (where people come to “Make Shit Happen”; hashtag #MSH), is like being dropped into the middle of Siberia. In the middle of winter. With no coat. And no Russian. And no vodka.
Like whoa. Who does that? Who decides at the end of the year that they are going to allow themselves to be ripped open and peered at by strangers? Who decides that spending their birthday with the unknown and the unknowing would be a the way to celebrate life? Who gathers in a space during football bowl season without a TV or a sports bar? Me. And My Lobster. And everyone else there too it seemed. Because we had to. Because, as Jen repeated (she does this a lot…repeats…and repeats… so you’ll get it, I mean get it, no, I mean really get IT), “like attracts like”.
So there we were 40 some odd strangers who were broken and battered and bewildered and beautiful. This is my observation that came from the self talk in our opening circle. We had collectively broken up, gotten back together, changed jobs, changed life statuses, changed coasts, moved in, moved out, retreated before, manifested before, worked our way to just being, and some just showed up because that’s what they needed to do. We needed to speak our truth (notice the little t) so that we could start “drawing to us” our desires/manifestations for 2014. We had to open the door to our souls just a little and let a little light in and a little darkness out to get things rolling. And let me tell you. When you are broken and battered and bewildered and beautiful, it only takes a speck of sand on your mountain of shit to start the avalanche of healing. Deep soul healing.
What are you manifesting? What are you doing to be inspired? How are you setting up your life to experience “Joy for NO Reason”? And we begin. We OM. I mean we really OM. I love to Om. (Side note…not the OM that you may read about that involves half naked women and pillows and such). I could drop and cross my legs and close my eyes anywhere and OM from the depth of my soul because the sound and the connection and the vibration totally rocks my world. Imagine a room full of broken, battered, bewildered, and beautiful people letting their walls fall and OMing from the depths of their soul. Together. In a room that has nothing but positive, radiant energy in it. And you’re sitting almost knee to knee with strangers creating a vibration that moves through the rafters towards heaven and bounces off walls and to you and ….wow. I wanted to hold on to that sound forever. Like a musical snapshot. I don’t ever want to forget the power that was in those voices.
Because I knew that I had come to a place that was going to heal me and my broken, battered, bewildered, beautiful self.
I needed this so I could get out of this horrible place in my head that I have been in since January 7, 2013, my quit smoking (again) day. I’m coming up on my 1 year anniversary. My lungs are happy, my skin is happy, my family is happy, My Lobster is happy, society is happy, everyone I know keeps telling my what an awesome thing it was to quit smoking. And it has sucked. Everyday for the past 359 days has sucked. There have been varying degrees of suckiness, from lying on a bed in the fetal position with a knife in my hand just wishing I could die to just feeling generally meh. Quitting smoking, while making everyone else in the world happy has made me miserable. It was the last thing I had to hide behind. It was my thing that removed me from uncomfortable situations, that allowed me to separate myself from the crowd, that allowed me opportunity to disconnect for a while, that occupied my time and my thoughts, that generally just owned my life. Good God. I was owned my nicotine (that is an absolute breakthrough in those words…never said that before or even thought it). And in its own sick way, nicotine and cigarettes saved me. They were ALWAYS there for me. They ALWAYS protected me. You need to know that because I was left alone. When the cigarettes left I was exposed. And naked. And vulnerable. And I didn’t know how to do any of those things. Because, let’s be honest…who messes with the chick who smokes and is built like a linebacker? Ya….nobody. And I liked it that way. For 30 of my 45 years I was safe and protected and ok. And then, just like that, I wasn’t. And how I made it to my 47th birthday is beyond me.
If it Jiggles, It’s not finished.
And so the whirlwind manifestation retreat comes barreling at you…stampeding straight towards you. There’s no time to think, there’s only time to be real and authentic and to SHOW UP. You don’t have time to question or judge or be concerned or worry or shoulda/coulda/woulda about anything. Because you open yourself up by calling forth your #MSH (manifestation/desire) and BAM Jen is taking you on the ride. Cat/Cow, downdog, crescent lunge, hiya, warrior 1,2,3, breathe, sigh, inhale, hands to prayer, repeat the mantra, 6 more times, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat. Sweat, start to cry. Listen to the music. You’re moving collectively, individually, in your own space and in others and you’re concentrating and calling forth and meditating and oh my GAWD…Why am I fucking crying again? Is it this song? Is it Jen’s words on repeat? Is it the moving? The space? the breathing? STOP. DROP. “PICK UP YOUR PENS”….what? I can’t breathe woman…can’t you see me heaving with emotion and trying to catch my breath after the 174 vinyasas you just made me do? Can’t you tell that I’m in no condition to write a goddamn word…oh…and I have to answer questions as I write? And dear …what…? I’m not the only mess in the room. There are sniffles and heavy breathing and silence…as I am surrounded by people who are being authentic and vulnerable and honest and raw and true and sad and joyful and amazing and not finished.
We are all just getting started on this part of the journey and Jen is forcing us to confront ideas and realities that are amazing and painful and beautiful and awesome and ridiculous and…..huh??? Did I just hear my name? Oh you want me to share out loud with these people my raw truth that just came from, I swear, the center of the earth.
What people say I am: giving, kind, joyful, caring, a good teacher, friendly, fun. What I say: fat, not worthy, not good enough (I am sloppy crying at this point), useless. The truth is I am a caring, giving, enthusiastic supporter who will take on the giants for others but is afraid to follow through with the little things. I can’t breathe at this point. I’m pretty sure I have snot dripping everywhere, but I feel so free because the truth is: I never take stock of the Truth. Truth with a capital T, not a little t. I think that I mostly allow the little t to fake represent the big T. And so I’m not done. I’m still jiggly, like the ganache baking in the oven that isn’t ready (I’ll be glad to share the amazing insights from Caspar Poyck at another time). It needs more time. And whoa again….jiggly is ok. It’s like more than ok.
It’s awesome and freeing and beautiful and I think I’m experiencing “Joy for No Reason”.
And I’m pretty sure that I want this feeling to last forever.
Vulnerability is Sexy
And this goes on and on and on and we breathe and move and listen and sweat and stop drop and pick up our pens and write and share and laugh and cry and do it again and again and again.
And looking back it was over in a minute. But while there it was like this roller coaster that has these little dips and I’m like “Ok..this is cool…not too scary, not too safe” and I can’t see in front of me so I don’t know what’s coming and then the car turns a corner and dropsofastyoucantthinkastowetheryoushouldscreamorcryorvomitorhitsomeoneordieorliveorgetofforstayonorahhhh
and you laugh. This laugh that sounds like someone has lit you on glitter fire and filled a room with butterflies and chocolate fountains and all the things that make you fill loved and safe and wonderful and joy. And in that first second I think, “Do I deserve this?” And Jen comes up with another one of her Jen-isms like, “Choose love” “Let go of fear” “Be Fucking Awesome” and the feeling of love and letting go and being awesome is so overwhelming I just want to open my mouth and scream and laugh and burst forth and hug strangers (oooohh…that’s big…cause Martha don’t like strangers in her space), and tell people how beautiful they are. And I know it wasn’t just me that felt that, because I watched people who were sitting hunched over in our opening circle look up and smile and lift their hearts and breathe deeper. And I saw people who don’t cry, cry. And connect. And love. And open. And blossom. And share. And be vulnerable.
And after every class and writing session I think, how can I possible do anymore of this? How can I not?
And so I leave California and head back home to Miami, to reality, to my life. And I’m full. Full in my soul. And connected to a tribe. And I’m full of love for these wonderful people who have been a part of a change. An individual/collective change that is going to individually/collectively make 2014 amazing. Because 2013 is gone. The rock that caused the flat isn’t important. What’s important is to change the flat and move on. And find your true self. So I leave you with these manifestation retreat insights:
- Drink good wine.
- Eat good food.
- Love deeply.
- Have an energetic clearing.
- Attend a yoga class.
- Move your energy around with sound bowls.
- Hit a gong.
- Listen to nature.
- Sit in a chair as the sun rises and stare at nothing and at everything.
- Take pictures.
- Share your story.
- Don’t box people up so that you feel better.
- Let go. Open up. Be free.
- Get your fingers dirty with your food.
- Write a love note to yourself.
- Look someone in the eyes as they speak so you give them your undivided attention.
- Make new friends.
- Be real and honest.
- Put down your phone.
- Thank someone who loves you for loving you.
- Be vulnerable. Good grief. Be vulnerable.
- Share your gift(s).
- Manifest your Lobster or your dream job or money or time or whatever you need. Hashtag #MSH.
- Say thank you aloud and to things and ideas and life.
- And when you get a chance, find Jen on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or the web and join a room full of strangers with shit piles just like you (because there are no accidents) and manifest. Inspire yourself to be inspired. Everyday. Bring your hands to prayer. Place them in front of your heart. And repeat when necessary “I am worthy”
Because if I am worthy, so must you be.
by Martha Meyer Barantovich (click to connect with Martha.)
Manifesting in London is Finally Happening!December 23, 2013
Beloved UK tribe! It’s happened. I have finally manifested bringing my workshop to London (where my husband is from and my in-laws live.) I am over the moon!! Based on the response of my Facebook fan page this will sell out soon, and as space is limited I suggest that you book now 😉 I will be celebrating my 4th wedding anniversary while we are there.
Click here to book a spot You do NOT need to be “good” at yoga or even a “yogi”.
Below is directly from the site of Lumi Power Yoga where I will host the workshop.
Who would I be if nobody told me who I was? What would I do if I wasn’t afraid? Questions like this and many more will be sought out and answered in this 3 hour workshop which truly connects the mind and body and soul. This unique experience combines asana, writing, and journaling exercises. All levels are welcome and encouraged. Expect to flow, twist, sweat, sing, write, dance and laugh as you let go of what is no longer serving you and manifest what you want in your life. This workshop is nothing short of a life changing immersion. Bring a friend. Bring your woes. Go beyond your comfort zone. Come see why this workshop sells out in leading studios around the world. Bring a journal, an open heart and a sense of humour.
Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer and retreat leader based in Los Angeles. She has a large international following and she travels around the world leading her signature Manifestation Yoga® workshops and retreats. Jen has been featured on Oprah.com, Good Morning America, New York Magazine, The Rumpus, Origin Magazine, as well as many other TV shows and publications. She is also the creator of Karaoke Yoga. You can read her popular blog The Manifest-Station at the themanifeststation.net or join her 26 thousand strong tribe on Facebook or Twitter/instagram @jenpastiloff. She also has a weekly column on Positively Positivewith almost 2 million fans.
“Jennifer is an awesome creature. I was like four planks of wood nailed together
haphazardly before I started with her and she has somehow fashioned rubber from
wood. We’ll, I can touch my toes now anyway. As patient and delightful a teacher
and person you could hope for. She’s deaf as a post though so be prepared for some
confusing discussions whilst in down dog. If she can fix me she can fix anyone.” GARY LIGHTBODY – SNOW PATROL
Don’t miss this unique opportunity – sign up now!
Booking and Payment: At the studio or online (click below!)
Boxed In.September 5, 2013
I want to remind you of something you might already know. Or maybe you knew and forgot. Or maybe you never knew. Here is it: Do not put yourself in a box.
That goes for other people putting you in a box, as well. And if they insist, then bust on out of that box. Do not feel like you need to stay there.
And if you do, it will be by your own volition.
I led a retreat this weekend. A “yoga” retreat. Let me tell you, there wasn’t that much actual “yoga” done. Don’t get me wrong, the whole retreat was as yoga as yoga gets, but as far as the poses go, we didn’t do that much asana.
Sometimes, when I go into fear mode, I worry about the fact that so many people think of me as so many different things (Jen their yoga teacher, Jen the writer they follow, Jen the person I googled and found when I typed in “yoga retreat”.) Then, everyone arrives and the transformation is so complete, so profound, and I remind myself that it doesn’t matter what I am called.
What I do speaks for itself.
Same goes for you.
My dear friend, Caspar, is always the chef at my Ojai retreats. He is also an incredible musician and singer (among many many other things) so I asked him to come and sing to the group with his guitar. People wept. It was that beautiful.
Up until that point he was “chef.”
It was a gorgeous reminder that we don’t need to be labeled or put into boxes, that we can let ourselves shine no matter what our title is or is not.
I don’t know what you’d call my retreats. I don’t know what to call myself, and truthfully, it does not matter.
I am creating my own niche in the world. I hope you will consider doing the same.
When we feel that we need to be in a box or we need to be labeled it is usually, and this is purely speculation, fear running the show.
“What if I don’t fit in? I better do what everyone else does.
What if they don’t like me? I better conform.
What if no one comes? What if people think I am crazy? What if it doesn’t work? What is people say “who does she think she is?”
Keep being yourself unapologetically.
Be kind, do your best not to hurt anyone, love often, but be true to who you are. If you want to sing and you are an accountant, start singing dammit!
As I let go of the idea that I have to be “yoga teacher” (in quotes) I allow for inspiration.
Be boundless guys.
Get out there and roam. (That’s me speaking directly to your soul.)
Love, Jen Pastiloff, writer, yoga teacher, leader, coffee drinker, wine drinker, reader, poet, aunt, amateur photographer, slob, social media junky, friend, daughter, wife, inspirer, over thinker, yogi, sunset aficionado, human being.
ps, I have decided that I am indeed doing a 3 day retreat to Ojai over New Year!! Email email@example.com to book.
Today’s Video Is a Must Watch!June 25, 2013
Today’s Video is my interview with Vasavi Kumar. It is my favorite one to date. Hope you are inspired by it. Can’t wait to hear what you think of it. Love you guys xo jen
Life Moves Pretty Fast Sometimes…June 11, 2013
ps here in the New York Magazine article! Was such an honor!
Please sign up for my NYC workshop and tell friends as it is filling up already 😉 It will be Oct 12 at Pure Yoga West NYC. Click here to book.
Enough. By Josh Becker.June 4, 2013
When I was 14 -years old I had the worst case of acne and I was about as skinny as a bean pole. To top it off I had bucked teeth which just added to the whole package. At 14-years old, boys my age had one, and only one, mission and that was to attract girls. This was the start of High School and aside from figuring out how you were going to hide your bad grades from your parents, who you would date was the only thing more pressing.
I was the kind of kid who just wanted a girlfriend. I was happy being in a long-term (as long-term as a 14 year old could have) relationship. Fortunately, I managed to attract enough of the girls that I did have some of those relationships. Whether or not I was in a relationship though didn’t matter much. Every day I was self conscious about my looks. I grew up on the east coast where it wasn’t unusual to have sweltering 95 degree days with 95% humidity. Those days where you wish you could walk around with a fan attached to your forehead. However on those days I’d be the kid, and the only kid, wearing pants. I was so self-conscious about my “chicken legs” that I couldn’t stand the thought of someone seeing them.
Being called, “skeleton” and “bones” wasn’t uncommon and it wasn’t unusual for an attractive girl to walk up to me and ask why I don’t eat. Oh I ate…I could eat pretty much anyone under the table but my metabolism was so high none of it would settle. I remember laying awake at night in bed wishing I was fat. I remember putting my hands over my stomach and then working my way down to my protruding hip bones in disgust. I wished I was fat because I was convinced I could just run or lose the excess weight somehow. Gaining weight for me was just not an option and I was reminded how horrible that was every day.
The acne was bad too because that wasn’t something I could cover up with pants. Shame would wash over me when I walked down the halls thinking about what “they” thought. There were times when I felt like I was wearing an ugly mask that I just couldn’t take off. I would go out of my way to avoid people and cut conversations short just to avoid others looking to closely. I was barely even listening when they were talking as I was too busy wondering what they were thinking of my zit covered face.
Smiling sucked at 14 because I was the one in the front of the class cracking the jokes. Can you imagine what it’s like to try and make others laugh and laugh yourself all while not smiling? I did a lot of those “lips closed” smiles. There wasn’t one single time I smiled that I wasn’t conscious of it. Not one smile.
I loved being the center of attention but hated actually receiving it.
The irony of this doesn’t go lost on me. I was a young boy covered in shame and left with false beliefs of not being good looking enough, not being tough enough, not being loved enough, and just not being enough. I longed for the love I wasn’t giving myself and that love took shape in the form of attention. I sought that attention but when I received it my shame came right back and spit in my face. It reminded me how “not enough” I really am and wouldn’t allow any of that attention and ultimately love in. The shame did a great job of keeping me in my darkness.
As I got older the pimples went away, the teeth straightened (did the braces thing twice!), and I gained the weight. The problem was the false beliefs were still there. Every morning I woke up and put on my glasses of “I’m not good enough”. This is how I saw the world and anything that happened meant I’m not good enough. I would get cut off on the highway and it meant I’m not important. Someone would say, “No” to me and it would mean I wasn’t good enough. I would say,” No” to acting on my own dreams because I knew thought I wasn’t good enough.
I learned that the shame I carried my whole life didn’t have anything to do with how I looked. I knew it had to do with the false beliefs I started to live my life by. It didn’t matter what I looked like. It didn’t matter what clothes I wore. It didn’t matter what girlfriend I had, what car I drove, how much money I made, or how popular I was. None of that mattered.
The greatest determination of my own self-love had nothing to do with the things “out there” and had everything to do with the things inside of me! Unfortunately those “things” were all covered up with my own shame and false beliefs that I carried from early childhood. One day (okay, this took years and is still a work in progress) I decided I wasn’t going to carry this shame anymore. I learned that the shame I carried was the shame of others. I gave back that shame and gave back all those false beliefs. I would tell myself daily that…
I am enough
I am good
I am beautiful
I am precious
I am intelligent
I am powerful
I am strong
The lies that fueled my false beliefs were being replaced by truths that were fueling my authentic self. The self I was born as. The one that had all those qualities I longed for. Today, I’m about 25 lbs over weight, my dark hair is turning more salt-n-pepper, and my eyebrow hair is growing faster than the hair on my head. Yet, I walk with my head high seeking only healthy attention. When the attention comes I accept it and receive it with love. I no longer worry about what others think of me and know that it’s literally none of my business what they do. People say, “No” to me and I celebrate the Yes they gave themselves. I listen when other speak to me as my attention no longer needs to be consumed on my self-worth. Life is so different and it’s filled with love, lots of love.
It’s a daily practice and I know it’s about progress and not perfection. I still do have my days when I forget that I’m not those lies I used to tell myself. Though, today I’m quicker to catch it and remind myself of the truth. If there’s one thing I know it’s this…
You are ENOUGH as you are and there’s nothing you can do to make yourself more or less enough, you just are! I know this to be true about you because I know it to be true about me.
The greatest amount of wasted time is the time not getting started. ~ Dawson Trotman
This place called stuck… I’ve been here before.
I’m not fond of it. I don’t like how it feels—ensnared by a trap.
I set the trap myself. I know it. I admit to it.
I work hard to escape, grasping out into the world for the right inspiration. Waiting for the right mood, the right time.
I know what I have to do but can’t make myself do it. As if it will entail chewing off my arm.
I see others doing it, exuding passion in what they’re doing. And I remain here in this spot. Running furiously, trampling my dreams but not getting anywhere. The drama of it all!
Procrastination. Fear. Fatigue. Anxiety. Worry that it won’t be perfect or good enough.
We’ve all been there. I know because I’ve asked people. Yes. It happens to the best and brightest of us.
But why and how in the world do we get out and get moving into that groove that feels so good? The groove that once we’re in it, it feels like we never left. The one that seems so out of reach sometimes.
Groove. I want to be in it. I want to be groovy.
I was in a groove, working as an editor. Busy busy busy. Editing. Connecting with people; connecting other people to people. Writing. Doing.
The downside was that this work was sapping me of energy. It was also keeping me from my consulting work which a) allows me to pick and choose what I work on and b) helps pay the bills. Sure, I got paid for editing, but it was 50-75 percent less than I could make consulting. Ouch! My son needs orthodontia ($5500). We have about 10 dying ash trees (thank you, emerald ash borer!) that will need to be removed professionally lest they fall on our house ($500 to over a thousand per tree). Yada yada yada.
The job was also, in my mind, eating up any free time I could utilize to write more. And to keep up with those silly things we must take care of in life.
I resigned about a month ago. It wasn’t easy, but I had to do it. And now I’d have all the time in the world to focus on what I reallywant to do. Hell, now I could even put time aside to clean out the linen closet and that damn kitchen drawer where matches, toothpicks and other miscellaneous items dance together in chaos. Oh, the humanity! I could finally address these pressing issues and fold the laundry promptly after its removal from the dryer. I could investigate refinancing our house. The sheet hanging out of the linen closet taunting me like a razzing tongue would be tidied up. I would be oh so organized!
The only one telling me what to do was me. No pressure!
Guess what? I found the linen closet could wait. My writing could wait (and it would have to since I contracted another serious bout of writer’s block, which may be contagious). The laundry would remain unfolded until the next six loads forced me to free up the laundry baskets.
And it waited, but not without a price. These to-do’s jammed up my head. I scolded myself. I became paralyzed—what am I supposed to tackle first?! No pressure? Wrong!
Having less to do meant, ironically, that I got less done. And I tried to be okay with that: “I’m on sabbatical,” I told myself and others. Sabbatical would be cool if it meant traveling to distant lands, meeting new people or taking an art class. But in my case, it meant more lap time for the cats.
I missed the ongoing conversations with my co-workers and my inspiration fizzled. The pile of to-do’s grew and I just didn’t feel like doing.
I wasn’t on sabbatical, I was idling (a word I hate).
“Enjoy this time,” I yelled at myself.
It wasn’t working! I wanted to do something, but couldn’t. (Or was it that I wanted to want to do something?)
If you’re like me—and this has, no doubt, happened to you in some form or you wouldn’t have read this far—you berate yourself about not getting started on something. Anything. Just to begin.
Days turn into night turned into days…. with each passing hour, I asked myself what was stopping me. I’m stopping me. I analyzed myself. If I’m stopping me and I’m asking myself why I don’t do something, how is it really me stopping myself? Am I schizophrenic? There’s the half lazy ass I turn into after a five mile run (no trouble getting in that run or yoga class. For others, getting into an exercise habit feels impossible). This lazy ass persona is bullied by the task master who asks, “What the f*ck is the problem?!” And there’s the mediator in me saying, “Just go with it. This is how you feel. Task master: put down that whip.” Then, “You’re a hard worker. You’re creative. You’re funny. You’re driven. Maybe you just need this time to chill.” And the lazy ass says, “I know, but it doesn’t really feel good to chill. Yet I can’t stop doing this chill thing. I’m mad for chilling and I’m mad that I can’t enjoy the chill.What now?” And the task master points to the long list of wants- and needs-to-do. The things that could move me toward my dreams.
In a study published by the Journal of Consumer Research, it was found that those who believed they had already made progress towards their goal were twice as likely to achieve it than those who thought they were starting from scratch. ~ Christina Curtis, Psychology Today
I read and I read and I read. Articles. Books. Blogs. About inspiration. About acceptance and breathing. About love and being. About writing. About being, not doing.
I continued to talk about it (to myself, mostly) and ask myself why. Or why not.
I dwelled upon this lack of passion and beat myself up over it. I should be writing. I should be exploring the world around me (limited funds, but I could use my f*ckin’ imagination, couldn’t I?!). I should I should I should. Why am I not listening to myself, I’d ask myself daily. What’s wrong with me? Where did my creativity disappear to? Who stole my motivation? Who stole my rudder? People say I can write—some have even expressed how I’ve inspired them—why can’t I write daily like some writers do? How do they do that? What’s wrong with me? Yes. These are the things that I’ve said (and say, past and present tense) to myself and I’m now putting to paper.
Please note: I’m a self-starter. Hire me to do help you with marketing and I won’t just do it, I will likely exceed your expectations.
Remind me about the laundry and I’ll just sigh. Tell me to write and I freeze up.
For you, it may be something else you’re trying to get to but can’t seem to muster up the energy to take that first step.
The beginning is the most important part of the work. ~ Plato
Beginning is also the hardest part. If I’d only just plop a few words down on paper, it would count as beginning. I scroll up and see that I’ve written. Hey, I’m writing!
I started by thinking about how difficult it is to start sometimes and by doing so, I had something I could write about—express—in that moment. What I was feeling in that moment was distress over not writing (or not cleaning the damn linen closet, or not calling the bank about refinancing options) and telling you, dear reader, about that experience. Hoping that you’ve been in my shoes so you can relate and I can know I’m not alone. Hoping there’s a writer or a linen closet cleaner wannabe who made it to point B by simply starting. Then I can breathe and know there’s hope for me.
Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
It can be problematic when the list of things to do is lengthy (have you ever heard anyone talk about a short to-do list?). Even when we check one thing off of that list, chances are there’s another one or five things that come up. That’s life. And wouldn’t life be boring if we had nothing to do?
A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. ~ Lao Tsu
I really want to write. I want to call myself a writer. I’d love to be a published author in the real sense, as in, an actual book. Who cares about all the other stuff? The linen closet is perhaps a symbol of my cluttered mind, something I need to clean out one sheet (one experience, one story, one word) at a time.
Fold one sheet today, possibly two tomorrow. Or by folding one sheet, since I’m there, I may be inclined quite naturally to pick up another and fold it.
Since I’m in my blog, I write this. I explore the difficulty of starting by pouring the jumble of thoughts onto paper (or in this case, channeling them through my fingers via keystrokes onto the computer screen). Explore, write, think, write. Unfold.
We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once. ~ Calvin Coolidge
Hell, I say by George, it’s working!
Getting started is beginning. Beginning feels hard until we do it. Fear must be what holds us back. Fear of what? Writing gobbledy-gook? Being laughed at? Not being good enough? Getting lost in the groove? F*ck you, fear and false starts. I’m starting now. And I’m starting tomorrow. And the next time I feel starting is impossible, I will breathe and let myself be.
Beating ourselves up won’t make us start.
What made me start was this. Starting. Having the courage to begin.
What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.
~ T.S. Eliot
And then, to end. To say, “This is good enough.” And let it go so we can move along to the next thing. The next breath. The next inspiration or bout of fear.
The Hardest Part:
Lynn Hasselberger lives in Chicagoland with her son, husband and two cats. She loves sunrises, running, yoga, chocolate, reading and writing, and has a voracious appetite for comedy. The founder of myEARTH360.com, Lynn also writes for her blog I Count for myEARTH. She’s a treehugger and social media addict who you’ll most likely find tweeting excessively and obsessively (@LynnHasselbrgr, @myEARTH360and @IC4ME) or posting on facebook. She hopes to make the world a better place, have more fun, re-develop her math skills and overcome her fear of public speaking. Like her writing? Subscribe to her posts.