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#metoo, Guest Posts, motherhood

Learning to Say No: #MeToo and Mothering

September 3, 2018

CW: This post addresses unwanted sexual advances and may contain explicit language.

By Lilly Bright

“Mommy, I love this beautiful person staring back at me from the mirror!” my five-year-old daughter exclaims from the bathroom where she stands facing the sink. Inwardly I rejoice, then wonder how many of us women think that on a daily basis, or ever? An honest exclamation, wild joy for the person staring back at us in the mirror?

For the past year, I’ve been contemplating how to make a meaningful contribution to the #MeToo movement, a personal experience that could illuminate, an allegory, some teachable moment. Then last week, walking the streets of Santa Monica, an uncomfortable memory surfaced. One of those that never actually left but that also wasn’t a regular visitor. But there it was- Proustian in the way it overwhelmed my senses and severe in the way it challenged held notions of categorization. The event isn’t murky yet it’s felt this way whenever I’ve attempted to package it. For years I diminished what happened because I didn’t say “no” and the harassment didn’t strike me as apparent. But the truth is, a line was crossed, a red zone rife with sexual power-play and coercion. And it went like this: Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts, No Bullshit Motherhood

The Thing About Grief Is…

March 21, 2018

By Stacey Shannon

The thing about grief is:

I can’t trust myself.

No matter how I rail against this part of my life/year/self, that is the bottom line.   It is part of me.  And though I may disregard it for 11 out 12 months of the year, it’s always there.  It WILL come  at me like Shane Stant came at Nancy Kerrigan with a club. When it arrives, it does what it always does.  It hobbles my knees and runs away as I fall to the ground, asking “Why, why?”.

No, I’m tired of asking why.  I’ll never really know.  Moving on, next question:

When?  Nope, done asking when.  When will it be over?  The answer to that one is always the same and it is this: never.

How?  That’s a good one. Let’s unpack that. (Don’t you hate when people say that?  It’s so douchey. “I know you are feeling rotten right now, let’s unpack that’!  How about, NO?)   How best to navigate these two weeks every winter, every fucking winter, 18 winters and counting.  How?  I’m not going to answer that.  Because when I do answer that question, I  immediately discount my own answer. Simply because: I can’t trust it. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, motherhood

Motherhood Meets Art In Motion

May 8, 2016

By Diana Kupershmit

She had done it a thousand times before.  When Emma was younger, she would slowly and carefully roll her body down the two steps of our sunken living room, from the foyer of our apartment. But as she got older, she evolved into scooting down on her bottom, with some semblance of graded control. It was a sight to see. Her four foot, seventy-five pound, lanky frame propelled itself by pushing off the floor with the back of her hands while simultaneously pumping her legs, in what  appeared to me as a painfully uncomfortable movement, much like a caterpillar. She never did take to the hand splints that were custom-made for her when she was a little girl, to keep her wrists straight, and to prevent the contractures, that partly defined her life. Even as a small child,  she was not going to be restrained and somehow always managed to remove the limiting splints—using her teeth to pull apart the velcro. A veritable Houdini. I marveled at her determination to get to where she wanted to go, with all of her physical limitations, as she would lower her diapered tush, first one step and then the other, bouncing and closing her eyes in anticipation of the not so soft landing. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, love, parenting

Teaching Sons How To Love

April 1, 2016

By Deonna Kelli Sayed

“Come to the kitchen,” Ibrahim says. “I want to show you something.”  My 13-year-old son towers over me. A thin layer of newly sprouted moustache sits above his lips, which are now shaped in a comical twirl.

“This is Day 1,” he says, as he turns the kitchen faucet to a trickling stream. He opens the valve a bit more.

“And by Day 3….” The water is full speed now, splattering against the dirty dishes in the sink.

He is explaining menstrual flow to me, his mother, and he is proud to know such secrets. This is after he provides a short explanation of why a woman bleeds every month. Don’t tell me why, I challenge him, tell me how she bleeds.

“The thing inside peels off skin….”

“You mean, the lining of the uterus sheds?” I offer.

“Yes! That is it. It sheds,” he says, as he continues narrating the journey of ovum to unfertilized blood flow.

The conversation started when I asked him what he had learned in sex education that day. He is the only Muslim in his mixed gender class, enduring an abstinence only curriculum that promised not to discuss masturbation, sexual intercourse, or homosexuality.

“What is there to talk about then?” I inquired. He shrugged and muttered that one can’t get into too many details as both girls and boys are in the class. And yet, they teach a vagina song, and not one about the penis, because perhaps the vagina is more complicated, he speculated.

It is all complicated, I say, this love and sex business. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, motherhood, Women

On Wishing Things Were Different

August 14, 2015

By Jessica Zucker


Mourning is hard for her. She’s loathe to sink into the anguish of that time and what it means about the woman who raised her.



Rather than feel the grief, she has spent the better part of her life gripping onto hope—an emotional contortionist—thinking that if only she were different than maybe her mother would treat her better, love her constantly, see her. Be there. These are the details that coarse through her unconscious mind day in, day out.


After repeated emotional mishaps and arduous disappointments, history collected in her psyche, hardening her once soft edges. The antithesis of a wellspring of support, her mother’s behaviors left an indelible mark on her daughter, cementing her impression of what relationships are made up of, and what they are not.


As a child she felt alone. She was alone. She turned her longing for connection into mock group therapy sessions for her stuffed animals, lined at the foot of her bed. “So, elephant”, she inquired, “what do you think about this story? How do you think the characters felt at the end of the book?” This type of playfulness exhibited her imaginative inner life and gave birth to an intimacy and connectedness she yearned for in actuality. Otherwise, in the context of the real people in her home, she felt stranded. Her house was missing key elements that she desperately needed to thrive: attunement, curiosity, reflection, unfettered fun. Continue Reading…

Binders, Guest Posts, motherhood, parenting

Snowstorms, Goodbye to Parenthood and Real Time.

March 12, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser.

Earlier this week, like practically the entire East coast, we awaited the much-hyped soon-to-be storm of the century. By Tuesday morning, we understood much of the snowpocalypse-fearing East Coast received meager amounts, especially against promise of a centennial storm. It made me think about how we aren’t, as a society, geared up for real-time discoveries any longer. We’ve been lulled into the belief that we can and should know pretty much everything ahead of time, thank you every weather app on the planet that renders even the once-worldview-rocking Weather Channel quaint. We egg each other on while water and kale disappears from supermarket shelves. While waiting, we take photos of every empty shelf and flake of snow on our fully charged smart phones.

This mindset is sets the perfect stage for bingewatchers and spoiler alerts, given the fact that we have the chance to watch any show of great or little significance at any time at any pace. Like the kale craze, we can so instantly know locate fingers on the pulse of things and this ability shapes our shared perspective.

This past summer and early fall I fell down the rabbit hole of Weeds years after its fifteen minutes touching cultural zeitgeist. The way I got there was Orange is the New Black, which I tried to like—and failed. Made so anxious from the prison that I couldn’t appreciate the humor or tolerate the drama, I was instead propelled to the book and to Jenji Kohan—thus, Weeds. Once in Little Boxes’ suburbia, I got hooked. I couldn’t quit Mary Louise Parker’s endless flirtation with disaster.

Partway in, I asked a friend who’d watched the entire series whether I was making a mistake. “It’s really good, then it’s really bad and then somewhere in there she kind of steps up and you’re glad you hung in for that shift,” my friend explained. “There’s redemption, eventually.”

The deadline beyond which I could truly spoiler you has long past. My friend’s assessment was correct, although the ending never really mattered. Weeds was more about the ride than the outcome or the meaning—no takeaway message promised and none delivered. Perhaps that’s why for all that time I spent unable to stop watching Weeds’ eight seasons, and unable to stop thinking about Weeds during those weeks I watched—and watched—I haven’t given it more brain space since. Does that render it a negligible binge-watch?

In the midst of my personal Weeds’ obsession, the ballyhooed release of the Gilmore Girls’ oeuvre appeared on Netflix and my sixteen year-old-son, already a huge fan of Lauren Graham’s Sarah Braverman on Parenthood, dove in. No question that Gilmore Girls falls within the Venn diagram of his absolute sweet spot—he loves romanticized dramas about families and relationships and smart, fast dialogue. He reveres Friday Night Lights. His hall-of-fame perennial favorite is The West Wing. Thus, Gilmore Girls surmounted to a predetermined home run.

As it should have been—Gilmore Girls is one of those series that belongs in that realm reserved for cultural icons. How many young women would cite it as their adolescent go-to show? How many mothers and daughters were glued together to GG when their own adhesive to one another experienced the challenges of actual mother-daughter wear and tear? How many of us first hearted Melissa McCarthy in Stars Hollow? Even the Kim Gordon makes a stealth appearance for a little wow/cool factor cameo idea began there. Aaron Sorkin may have provided the initial incarnation of lightning speed dialogue on television. Amy Sherman-Palladino for sure gave him a run for his money, way before Shonda Rhimes took up the female fast talking television mantle.

The jumble of programs with cultural import and ones to watch-because-you-can-and-don’t-stop makes me curious about how cultural junk food, “mid-reputable” TV and stellar series meld into our cultural DNA going forward. For all its frothiness, what stuck from Weeds was the ‘O’ Mary Louise Parker makes around a straw. That masterful sip informed how loveable Lauren Graham, as both Lorelai Gilmore and Sarah Braverman seemed wielding straws.

In real time, my sixteen-year-old son and I got into the habit of curl up on Thursday nights to savor Parenthood’s final season. It finished its run last night—and we are sad. We’ve been sad all season long, because we didn’t want to say goodbye to the Braverman clan, and knew we would have to do so. It’s rare that a program can uphold this much sentimental tenderness and final season ribbon tying. Parenthood could because the characters’ complexities are so well established. Even the broadcast promise of family drama trifecta: wedding, birth, and death managed not to feel like stunts or to disappoint. The takeaway message stayed true to mission: families are bittersweet entourages; when things are hard, sometimes love holds you as you need and when things are happy you hurt at the notion they’d ever get sad again—and you’d lose the joy.

To watch together is new for us. Up until now, we each took in Parenthood on our own schedules and timetables. My son watched week-by-week; I tended to bank a few weeks and then bundle-view numerous installments over a few days. Although we discussed the show, he politely avoided letting spoilers slip. We were very twenty-first century about the whole thing.

For this extended swan song, though, we went old school. Although I’m the only one in a teary puddle by the end of each episode (he misted up by the finale’s end at least), we bonded over each development and mourned our goodbyes to characters we both adore. As anyone who’s ever raised teenagers knows, peaceful time bonding that you can count on is in itself a winning entity, reason enough to love the ritual.

Some might call Parenthood cultural junk food. Whatever—for us, it’s more like emotional-slash-relational superfood. The Braverman clan has afforded us opportunities to discuss families and romantic relationships, autism, aging, and career passions, adolescence and young adulthood comfortably and naturally. Conversations about emotions don’t come easily with him, so this was a pretty rare opportunity. Add to this the fact that the Braverman family, through ups and downs, yelling and screeching, comes through for its members in such strong ways. I really don’t care if that’s idealized; I want to endorse a message as simple as that’s something to strive for—for us. Far from the groovy Bay area, we have our own ups and downs, some big enough, some smaller, but at heart, equally knotted and tangled and well intentioned.

That real time viewership prompts gems like actual, rich conversation with your sixteen year-old-son is why I hope the phenomenon is here to stay, even in the age of abundant binge-ability. Like the purported snowstorm we dodged; for all the anticipation, ultimately, it’s refreshing to take it as it comes and watch the flakes cascade. Storm of the century or not, you can still eat your kale.


Sarah’s work has appeared in the NYT, Washington Post, Brain Child, Full Grown People, Dame and The Manifest-Station recently. She lives in Western Massachusetts, where the snow flies, and flies.

The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now. Space is limited.This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the new season of spring. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation.

The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now. Space is limited.This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the new season of spring. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that's it! Summer or Fall 2015. It is LIFE CHANGING!

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that’s it! Summer or Fall 2015. It is LIFE CHANGING!

Join Jen and Emily Rapp at a writing and the body retreat in Stowe, Vermont Oct 2015. This will be their 3rd one together in Stowe. Click the photo to book.

Join Jen and Emily Rapp at a writing and the body retreat in Stowe, Vermont Oct 2015. This will be their 3rd one together in Stowe. Click the photo to book.

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