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responsibility

healing, Inspiration

Shame.

January 13, 2013

I used to see this therapist when I was in 5th and 6th grade. I can’t remember his name for the life of me, but he was kind, and he would abide by my silly laws of I will talk if you ____. 

He let me bring friends to my session. I would talk for 30 minutes without them and then he’d let me bring them in for the remaining 30. He would take me across the street to this candy store and buy me these wax filled Cola candies that I loved (and sometimes gummy bears). He let me play board games in our session and also this weird leap frog game with little plastic pieces. I thought I was way too cool to go to a psychologist and I would tell my friends that my mom made me go. I would clarify that it was not a psychiatrist. Somehow that made a difference to me at the time. As if I was less damaged.

I never opened up to him. Not once.

I hated him for it.

When 7th grade came and I went to the middle school, which might as well be called the middle level of Hell, he’d started working at my school. I would see him in the hall and walk by him like I had never met him before. He’d say hello to me and I would cruise past as if I had no idea he’d been talking to me. I never once acknowledged him.

I had stopped seeing him the year before after 6th grade had ended. I called my mother tonight to remind me of him and she couldn’t remember much except that he was helping us in some way. He was either not charging us or was billing us through some weird system where we weren’t actually paying.

He’d wanted to save me. And he’d failed.

Except tonight in yoga, the first time I’d moved my body in a while if I tell you the truth, which I am committed to doing, I realized that he had saved me. That what I’d needed at that time wasn’t someone to force me to talk but to let me be. He did that. He let me be without a word. He let me do whatever I’d wanted and express my disdain at having to go see him and he’d let me eat candy and be mad. I really just wanted to be mad.

I wish I could remember his name so I could look him up, maybe on Facebook even, and thank him.

So much of my life has been spent being ashamed.

I had this boyfriend in high school. My first love. I loved him like you can only love that first one. In that way that seems so small and ridiculously large at the same time when you look back on it twenty years later. That I am going to be with you forever and I will die if you leave me and I will never leave you and I will go to the same college as you and we will get married even though most of you knew it wouldn’t ever end up that way. The part of you that felt it was larger than the other parts and outweighed the facts and the This won’t lasts.

My mother (G-d bless her) would let him sleep over. We were in high school! I think about this now and cringe and, at the same time, bow to my mom for trusting me like that. I wouldn’t even lock my door. She just wouldn’t come in if he was over. Like we were 30 somethings. Because her trust in me was so big, I lived up to it. I was an adult at 17. I was serious and proud and in love with someone who stayed in my room on school nights.

When I would see him in school though I would walk by him like I didn’t know him. I wouldn’t even bat an eyelash. I knew I was doing it and I would beg myself as I saw him coming down the hallway Jen, reach out. Hug him. Hold his hand. Do something. But I didn’t. I couldn’t.

It was like I was drowning in the Lake of Shame. I couldn’t let anyone see that I could feel anything. I was stone. I would walk by him and we’d silently agree that it was the normal thing to do. To be in shame, as it were.

I was ashamed of any feelings I had. I tried to starve them out of myself most days.

Twenty years later I am a pretty affectionate person. I still battle it though. With my family, my mother and my sister, for example, it’s hard. I wall up. I am a solid thing and I will not collapse and you can’t make me either.  

Where does this shame stem from? What elephant have I shot in the wake of my growing into a woman?

I have always been sad. Look at my childhood photos. I never smiled. I was always asked why are you so sad, why don’t you smile, what could be so wrong? To which I didn’t know the answer until I did. Until so much heartache and heartbreak fell upon me that I wanted to bop people over the head and ask them How dare you ask someone how they can be so sad when you have absolutely no idea what it is like to be them? Maybe their father just died? 

I was always ashamed of my grief and my sadness. I would not talk to any therapist. When my dad first died and I was maybe 8 or 9, I had gone to a therapist in Philadelphia and when she’s asked me how I felt, the best I could do was scribble on a 3 by 5 card with 5 different colored pens and then write This is How I Feel in all capital letters.

That was the best I could do.

And everyone was always tssk tsssking me about how sad I looked.

I was ashamed. I was ashamed of anything I felt. Sadness, love, sexuality.

It makes sense now when I think back on how I ignored my first boyfriend in the hallways at school. I loved him so much and I could not let anyone see that. I would walk by him in my cute green leather vest and Doc Martins and overly skinny body and not even look in his direction. I wouldn’t even nod. And he loved me still.

How guilty I felt!

Eventually I learned how to reach for a hand. How to hug. How to be vulnerable.

I have always had a grief stamp on my forehead, even before my father died, as if my body knew what was going to happen and had prepared me. As if my mind had known all along and was simply waiting, which is perhaps the worst thing in all the world. I have always had a certain sadness and grief and have always been made wrong for it until recently.

I write about it and so many people say Yes Yes I get it. I understand or me too!

Am I validated all of a sudden? Is it okay to be sad and happy at the same time? Well, yes. It always was okay. The thing is, when you find a tribe, as I have done, it feels as if all along you had reason to feel such sadness. That were a slew of others like you in the world just waiting for you to say Our Place Is Here. Just waiting for you to crack open the pattern of days, splitting what’s solid and finding that underneath it all, underneath the shame and sadness and grief is love.

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healing, Jen Pastiloff, Jen's Musings, Truth

Promises & Lies.

January 8, 2013
beauty-hunting-jen-logo-blackBy Jen Pastiloff.

Promise. The word itself is sleazy. Hard at first, then sizzling out at the end like something that can’t last. A snake. A word that can’t get up off the ground.

You promised though.

You promised.

I promise you.

We promise.

I promise. 

Hsssssssss. Promisssssse.

**

In 1983 we lived in Pennsauken, New Jersey, after having moved from Philadelphia a couple years earlier. Across the street from our house was a little store called Kirk’s Newsroom. The store itself a tiny animal, nestled next to an appliance repair shop and a Jersey highway called Route 38.

There was nothing pretty about it. We bought American cheese there, thinly sliced, and egg nog in December. Kools for my dad, Almond Joys, sometimes a newspaper. I played PacMan in the back in the dark little room where there were two video games shoved against a wall.

We had a “house account” at Kirk’s Newsroom. My dad would send me across the street to get him a hard pack of Kools, cheese, and half-n-half. I don’t remember what Kirk looked like besides having a mustache and a thin face, he was always behind the counter. Put it on my dad’s account I’d say like a lady to the mustache behind the counter. And can I get a hard pack of Kools?

I think about that now and how a child could never walk into a store and get a pack of cigarettes and also, do house accounts even exist anymore? It was the early 80’s however and most things were possible until they weren’t.

I hated that store. It felt dirty and old and every time I was sent there to retrieve things I’d felt as if I was being delivered into the arms of a rat. Go, my child! Go straight into the den of vermin! Be gone now! Come back with cigarettes and cheese. Don’t let the snakes eat you!

Kirk was nice enough, I guess. He’d leave egg nog on our doorstep around the holidays. We’d wake up and a frozen carton would be there waiting for us or we’d open the door and step on it, not knowing it had been there. Either way, I hated the place like I knew it would kill us in the end.

And it did.

I’d flushed a pack down the toilet because I’d been so angry that he’d promised to quit smoking and hadn’t. He’d promised! I was ballsy and triumphant at 8 years old. I’ll show him! Flush.

He smoked 4 packs of menthol cigarettes a day. Now that so much time has passed, I often wondered what has turned to myth, as so much does, but, nonetheless, he chain-smoked a shitload of very-bad-for-you cigarettes daily. He was not happy with the flushing incident, he did not think it was cute. You are being bad and making me not feel good. Now, please go get me a pack of cigarettes across the street.

Did he really say that?

You’re asking me? As if. As if our minds can be relied upon. As if history doesn’t fold in upon itself and change over time. As if our memories are safe. As if Time hasn’t ravished them and then polished them before putting them back into the wrong compartment.

You always break your promises! I hate you.

The end.

He died that night, and yes, that was the last thing I ever said to him. I. Hate. You.

Things and people I have tried to blame it on: Kirk: the bastard who sold cigarettes and newspapers. Myself: I killed him with my words. I was bad and made him not feel good. Speed: his heart, his poor heart racing to keep up, a fist in his chest, pumping five times faster. Downers: the confusion his heart must have felt daily, up and down, up and down. My mother: why couldn’t she save him? God: God hated me and this was proof. The woman he’d had an affair with: if he’d never met her this would never have happened. Promises: if he’d never promised to quit smoking, I would never have told him I hated him and the night would have played out differently. He would not die. I would not walk 17 times around the block in an effort to not cry. We would not pick up and move to California. We would be safe.

Fucking promises.

There is a promise when a baby comes into the world as you hold them for the first time. I will care for you. I will be here. You are safe. We are safe. But how can you know that?

How dare you promise anything?

 

When I lived in NYC I used to promise myself nightly that if I didn’t die during the night I would stop abusing laxatives. I didn’t die and I would do it the next night and the next and the next in my little single apartment owned by NYU Housing. I would take 10 laxative tea bags and put them in a few ounces of water until it was  brown sludge. Sometime in the middle of the night as my eyes were wildly dilated from the diet pills I was taking, my stomach would begin to gurgle and I would rush to the bathroom and pray Don’t let me die.

I couldn’t even keep a promise to myself.

I promise I will do better.

Can you remember all the promises you’ve made to yourself? I can’t.

What is a promise called when you don’t really mean it? When you just say it to get you to the next tier? Is it a lie?

I lied to myself over and over.

Maybe you’re cringing or maybe you pity me. Maybe you don’t care at all since promises to ourselves are the worst kinds of promises because no one is holding us accountable. Or perhaps you’d pick up your own coffee cup, the one right after you’ve sworn off coffee, and nod with I promise I will do better before you put it back down and go off to brew another pot. The newer lies I tell myself stacked on top of the old ones all along the edges of my life in places nobody would care to look. All the years I lied to myself about not wanting to be a writer. The lies I told myself about who I was. The lies themselves innumerable and ugly. What’s most scary about these lies we tell to ourselves is their proximity to the truth.

Such a strange sense of satisfaction being so close to the truth. Holding it in your hands like a thing with weight, until you realize that lies are slippery and wet, unholdable at best, and that they have no weight. They carry nothing but themselves.

They will not carry you.

I couldn’t keep up with the promises I told myself.

Every year that I stayed at my waitressing job was another year I had promised and failed to: go back to school, to try and get acting work, to do something, to get out finally from waitressing, to make a change, to stop hating myself so much, to stop starving myself all day and only eating at night. There were so many promises, all as empty as I wanted to feel at night when I would lie in bed and make sure my ribs were protruding by pressing into them hard like something I wanted to make disappear.

I had lost faith in promises, their meanings slippery as the years I had stayed at the restaurant. All through my 20’s and I couldn’t tell you one year from the next until all of a sudden I was 30 and then 31 and then Oh My God, I promised myself I would be Something by now. I would be Somebody.

Who was I promising anyway? It sure wasn’t God. I’d mutter the promises to myself or write them down on random slips of paper and then scribble them out and throw them away so nobody would see. After my father died, I had decided that God hated me. I constantly searched for evidence of this. Bad things happen to me, I’d think. I walked around waiting for that fact to shake up my life, to turn up at a street corner and snatch me away.

Bad things happen to everyone sometimes.

That is what I now know. This too is innumerable and ugly, as so many things often are. But it is also a testament to life, one that we are born into whether we like it or not. As soon as we are held for the first time by our parents, as soon as they whisper into our new soft baby heads: I will care for you. I will be here. You are safe. We are safe.

Promises are tricky: when they break, when their shells crack and they fall all over the kitchen floor like a fallen glass, your heart goes along with it. Be careful when you pick up the glass to throw it away that you don’t throw a little bit of your heart away. It can happen like that. And then the digging and searching through garbage to find what remains.

I spent years digging through crap to find my missing parts.

Don’t make a promise you can’t, or (don’t intend to) keep. I say this to myself as well as to you. I write it here, and instead of secretly scribbling it out and crumpling it up so nobody can read it, I share it with you. Stop lying to myself I write, on my mirror in red lipstick. Don’t make promises to yourself that you know you won’t keep just so that you can  slump yourself on the floor validating how rotten you are and how bad you suck, yet again and yet again and yet again.

Don’t do it.

I always know when I am lying to myself, that’s the thing. Always. I always knew I wouldn’t stop taking the laxatives even as I promised that if I didn’t die on the toilet, I would never ever do it again. 

I knew I would do it again.

So, what is the point of the promises that know themselves so well, that know they are untrue things?

I think they actually think they are keeping us safe.

My father thought if he told me he’d promised to quit smoking he’d be safer than if he said I never want to stop. I love smoking. It makes me happy and I don’t want to quit now.

We all want to be safe.

If I didn’t tell myself all those lies I would have easily sank to the bottom of the ocean. By telling myself the lies, I became equipped with a temporary life jacket. I am safe in the world right now because starting tomorrow I will stop abusing myself. Starting tomorrow I will ______. Starting tomorrow I will not _______. 

Tomorrow would never come. I would carry on doing what I did until I finally did sink to the bottom of the ocean. I finally had my breakdown. There weren’t any more promises I could think of that hadn’t broken me.

I got up and took off the platform shoes I had been wearing for over ten years to pretend I was tall. I waitressed on concrete for over ten years in really really bad platform shoes. I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and put on some nice supportive sneakers. It took a while to get used to my frame of reference being 5 inches shorter but I did it and when people balked at me You are a midget! I had no idea you were so short I just smiled and fought every urge that said Dig those shoes out of the trash and put them back on as soon as possible. 

I didn’t ever put the platforms back on.

Eventually I stopped taking the laxatives and abusing myself. Eventually, after over 13 years, I left the restaurant. Eventually I admitted that I did not want to be an actress.

It wasn’t because I promised myself. It was because I finally woke up one day and realized that lying was harder. That who I am was far more beautiful than who I was pretending to be or promising I would become. I woke up and said Enough. And then I said it over and over and over Enough Enough Enough.

I didn’t want any more promises or lies. I wanted what was rightfully mine, my birthright, as it were, and that was the knowledge that I was whole. That I wasn’t missing any parts.

It’s true that there are many things in life that are innumerable and ugly and inconceivable. But it is also true that what is on the other side is a whole world of glittering NOW.

There is nothing to promise NOW. You and I are here now. I am writing this now and you are reading this now and we are here and alive and what else could matter? What future based promise could possibly touch that irrevocable fact?

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

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

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. 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.

 

 

Contact Rachel for health coaching, weight loss, strategies, recipes, detoxes, cleanses or help getting off sugar. Click here.

Contact Rachel for health coaching, weight loss, strategies, recipes, detoxes, cleanses or help getting off sugar. Click here.

Beating Fear with a Stick, loss, my book

Who’s Going To Want Me?

January 6, 2013

Who’s going to want me?

So much of it all boils down to that, doesn’t it?

Who’s going to want me now that I am _____. Put whatever you want in the blank. Go ahead.

Now that I am: Fatherless. Fat. An orphan. Old. Broken. Divorced. Handicapped. Widowed. Left. No Longer Have Perky Tits. Deaf. An Amputee. An Athiest. Sober. A Alcoholic. Lonely. Honest. Motherless. Childless. With Children. Ugly. Bald. Go ahead, put your word in.

You may wake up one day at 5:33 in the morning and shoot up out of bed as if from a nightmare where your car was flying off a cliff and you may find yourself once again muttering those words. Who’s going to want me now that I’m dead?

You’re not dead though. You woke from the dream. See, you are sitting right here, your head matted with sweat, the back of your neck hot and cold at the same time and you are reading these words and nodding along and you are very much alive.

There’s this line from my favorite Robert Lowell poem, Night Sweat, the last line of the poem:

If I cannot clear the surface of these troubled waters here,

absolve me, help me, Dear Heart, as you bear

this world’s dead weight and cycle on your back

He wrote about having nothing to write about, a variation on the good old Who will want me is Who will read me? How much dead weight we carry. Look how much.

My friend Steve Bridges died last year. His sweet little maid found him on his couch like he’d fallen asleep watching television. She’d tried to cover him with a blanket at first until she realized what the reality was. I don’t ever wish that I’d been her that morning, covering Mr. Steve with a Mexican blanket only to realize that no matter he’d always stay cold.

She’d worked for him for years, they’d sat in his kitchen while she cleaned and he wrote and laugh and laugh and she’d loved him. So when she realized he wasn’t sleeping but dead, her sweet little heart must have stopped and I would wager a bet it has been beating a little differently since that morning. Perhaps that thought came rushing at her one morning in her own bed, Who’s going to want me now? Who will make me laugh in their kitchen? 

When he died, I kept teaching my yoga classes, but I would have to turn around so that my back faced the class. I would cry and then wipe the tears and tell them to take a vinyasa or do child’s pose. Sometimes I just let the tears fall because the truth of the matter is that they expected nothing less than for me to take him right into class with me that week. They commended me for my willingness to show them my suffering and heartache because they had felt it too, and sometimes we actually need to remember that feeling, that raw my gut is ripped out feeling so we wake the fuck up. We all woke up that week or two after he died.

Steve and I hadn’t known each other terribly long. Oh, but we had. (Isn’t that such a yoga teachery thing to say?) We had known each other our whole lives so when we met it was not a thing. He started coming on my retreats and I referred to him as my brother and he referred to me as his teacher, his agent, his sister, his friend. We loved each other, we did. With Steve, I never felt the ghost of Who’s going to want me now? 

Yes, I am married. It’s beyond that even. It’s a cellular level instinct that goes way behind the logical, the rational, the explainable, all the way to the center of the Earth where it pierces and shrieks.

He listened to me. He saw me in a way few others have ever seen me. When he died, that shriek howled from the depths of the world and knocked me over, right in the middle of the street. It was impossible. Impossible that he was dead. I tried crawling my way through the dirt and mud towards that sound coming from below but I was stuck, reeling from the explosion, I was stuck. I couldn’t get him back.

Before he died, the last conversation we had actually, was in Mexico. It was the last day of my retreat and we sat eye to eye as everyone else took pictures of themselves doing various yoga poses below on the beach. He told me that he wanted a family. He said something to the effect of I can’t leave the earth without having a child. In the movie version, I will insert some foreboding music there so we know its foreshadowing and that he will never ever have a child. We should know this when the music plays and the two people sit eye to eye above a Mexican beach as happy as they’ve ever been with such a knowing that the Who’s Going to Want Me Now? is so far in the past, because, to have found a tribe like this, nothing could ever go wrong, all was good in the world. All was safe.

I didn’t get over his death but I kept going. It’s what we do. Someone dies and you keep going. That is Choice A. Choice B is you die. I did not die nor did I want to, to so I kept going. Eventually I felt a little less sad because, Time, that ruthless beast, does that. It softens you in some places and that the same time ages you and hardens you but mostly it dulls the pain. Believe me on this. If we remembered all our visits to the dentists and all our heartbreaks with clarity we would have rotting mouths and we’d all be alone in our rooms watching The Bachelor.

This morning I popped up at 5:33 in the morning. I am on England time so it is 8 hours ahead. I popped up and Who’s going to want me now clamored me over the top of the head. I was reading an article on The NY Times about the incomparable George Saunders’ newest book. He is 54 and started publishing at 37. I thought: Oh, Ok, Good. I’m ok. I am around that age.

But then.

I have not published anything yet. No books, no short stories. I am Saunders age when he wrote his first book and what have I done so far? I have been a waitress for decades and now a yoga teacher and here it is. Drumroll, it’s coming: Who Is Going To Want Me Now?

Right over the fucking head like a bat.

I am not looking for advice. I am talking about a deep guttural voice with a trajectory to nowhere that I have to conquer on my own like I am in a battle zone. And I am. With my life.

I do not know who will want me. I can let that stop me and not write my book and not try to publish it or I can write it and have a deep knowing that someone will take it and if they don’t, they don’t. I will then keep going. I will not use it as some sort of empirical proof to say See? See? No One Wants me.

Every time someone has left me (there’ve been two major ones, three if you count my father), I have questioned who would ever want me again as if they were the only two men on the planet and I was an untouchable.

Someone did want. Many did. Not just men and not just sexual. You are reading my words. You want me. But screw all that. Here’s the kick in the pants I was talking about the other day: I want me.

Most days. Most days I want me and from there I go. I go from there armed with my self-love and my husband and my indefatigable urge to write write write.

Then there are days like today where I wake up and my heart has fallen out and rolled somewhere under the bed next to some old birthday cards and a shoe. I have to crawl around in the dark and move through some dust, but I find it and screw it back in. It happens. It’s bound to do that once in a while because there is some ancient agreement I must have signed long ago before I knew I was signing it. I ripped up the agreement but there are days when the memory of the signature is strong enough to stop me in my tracks and have me say to myself Just Who Do You Think You Are?

Finally I am getting to it. The point. Who do you think you are? Go back to your blanks. Fat, Legless, Manless, Childless, No Longer Young, whatever it was you signed to on that contract, I want you to scribble it out. Get a black magic marker or some other stinky kind of pen and scribble it out at least a hundred times. Then, leave it blank.

You think 38 years old sums you up? You think divorced says it all?

You can’t define yourself in a word. You are a world, Dear Heart.

 

 

 

 

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A little clip of Steve and I.

courage

Go! Run! Now Is Your Chance! By Jen Pastiloff

January 5, 2013

Go! Run! Now Is Your Chance! By Jen Pastiloff

I just finished watching The Perks of Being a Wallflower on the plane. I read the book  ten years ago after one of my childhood best friends, Shana Feste, said I would love it. I did. I’d loved it so much I scribbled in it and dog-eared the hell out of it and gave it away and got it back again. It was my absolute favorite book for a while. Until I forgot it. When the movie came out, I’d wanted to see it, remembering I’d loved the book but not what it had been about or any details. I do that. With people, books, family. I know I loved you but I can’t remember what we ate. I can’t remember where we went or why I loved you but I know I loved you.

I just watched it sitting here on the plane headed back to Los Angeles from London, and I cried more than I have in a long time.

I kept pausing the film to stare out the window, partly because I was embarrassed to be sniveling like that on the plane and partly to ponder why I was crying so much. The scenes that hit me weren’t necessarily sad scenes. Just so reminiscent of pain I’ve felt in my own life, of how hard family can be, of high school and how much I hated myself and only a few friends recognizing that hatred.

A couple of my best friends, two men who have been my friends since we were 14 years old, (how weird to call them men), have been reading my writing lately and both have sent separate emails apologizing for not understanding me better, not loving me harder.

One of them, J, sent me this after my essay Betrayal in which I speak of shitting myself. yes, you read that last line correctly.

Never knew, but I kind of like it in a way. It’s like I’m getting to know you even better after all of these years and getting to look back at your life and think about who we were then. It’s a blessing.

More proof that you’re a real writer: you actually managed to craft a serious story about shitting your pants, a subject almost exclusively relegated to the realm of comedy. I speak your name, JP.

I remember being with my mom the night before she died and her body was failing her so she was wearing an adult diaper. We had brought Jonah, who was weeks old at the time, to see her and after she had an ‘accident’ she looked down at him and said, “You come into this world in diapers and you leave in diapers.” She always had that sardonic kind of wit–right until the end.

There’d been a few emails from the guys but that one got me right there in the gut, next to the place my dad resides and also my friend Steve. I’d known J’s mom and I’d loved her. The day she died I took a picture of her to my yoga class (it was before I was a yoga teacher) and placed it next to my mat and then during savasana, over my heart.

Both male friends had sent emails apologizing.

No apology was needed. We were young and they were boys. Boys who turned into fine men. They were never the sensitive poetic types who did musical theatre or read during lunch hour, these guys were the “popular” (such a vicious word), boys who played sports and who drove the girls crazy. They were smart and funny and I’d loved them. I still do. They have families and their children are smart and funny. These guys still care about me (as I do them). They read my blog, for Chrissakes. We met when we were 14 years old. And. They. Read. My. Shit. That’s friendship. So yea, maybe they didn’t “get” me fully when I was taking 12 diet pills a day and slowly dying in high school from starvation. But that’s okay. They get me now.

Life is an ongoing battle of getting one another.

I do not cry that much these days. When my dad died I stifled my tears and didn’t cry at all so that part of me felt broken for a long time. When it came back, an angry faucet that would not be fixed no matter what- a constant drip. I spent years sobbing and then alternately years where, again, I didn’t cry at all. Nothing would phase me and I would wonder Am I dead? Why can’t I feel things?

I am broken I would say to myself in acting class when I couldn’t muster any sadness.

I cried in so many scenes in this film just now. I see why my friend Shana (who is now a screenwriter and director herself) told me so many years ago to read this book. She is a writer who can create such moving dialogue, such real and moving dialogue, that you wonder if she hasn’t just sat in a chair her whole life in various rooms in various houses and just studied people without them knowing.

How can she know people so well? She does. She gets it and that’s why she sent me the book years ago. That’s why she is making a living as a very successful Hollywood screenwriter and director. People want to be reminded of what it is like to be moved, to be human. She does that. She recognizes that quality on others as well, thus the sending over of The Perks of Being a Wallflower all those years ago. The book I’d forgotten but which still sits at the very top of my book shelf. Shana was a wallflower in school and she is one of the most brilliant people I know. I am a wallflower disguised as an extrovert and the book was like finding our Tribe of Wallflowers, with all its faults and loveliness and welcoming it home.

I am stuck in the 80’s. Most people who take my yoga class know this and either love it or have learned to accept this fact. This film played all my most favorite music. The Smiths, The Innocence Mission, the Cure, New Order. All my make me sad and make me feel please make me feel songs were rampant.

There were moments were I cried for Charlie (the protagonist) and his love for Sam. Because where will it ever go? I see young love and it breaks my heart because I know it won’t last most of the time. My Broken Button alarms.

Broken! broken! broken!

Why can’t I just look at it and love it because they are loving it. Why must I look at it and think How sad, it isn’t going to last. They are going  to get older and one will leave the other. They will marry other people. They think “this is it”. But its not.

Here it is: Things that don’t last. The ever penetrating theme in all I do. The fear of it going away. The title of my own 80’s mixtape (remember those?) “Things That Don’t Last.” Like totally. Play this in your room at night with the door shut. Play this on your walkman.

Things that didn’t last for me: fathers, first loves.

I ate my vegetable curry (not bad Virgin Atlantic!) as I finished the film. After it ended I just stared at the black screen for a while. I didn’t want to watch another film, I wanted to stay in the reverie. I wanted to indulge in this feeling something.

I know some fathers last and some first loves last. But what can you do? You live and write from where you are. From your island. From your desk. From your heart.

Look at what affects you in a book or a film or a relationship. Usually it is because it is striking some oft-stricken little cord in the dungeon of your psyche where you have maybe hung a sign that says Broken or Dead or Asleep.

When I see scenes in films where there is a father and daughter, I cry. Sometimes when I go out with my friends and their fathers I cry. Its that little piece of me that says This lasted for you and not for me

or I miss my own dad or

Grieving doesn’t have an expiration date so yes, yes I am still sad..

The reason I well up with the young love or the scenes that make my heart recognize itself is because I want to protect them. I want to shield them all from the pain and the hurt and all of it. Go! Run! Now is your chance!

So the movie ends and I finish my little red wine and they take my food tray away and I buck up.

Go! Run! Now is your chance!

Except I am older and wiser now so here it is.

Go: Go live and fall in love and be young and do whatever the fuck you want as long as you don’t intentionally hurt someone else. It may last and it may not. Do it anyway.

Run: Run straight into the arms of the people who love you regardless if it may not be forever. Nothing is forever. Run towards. Not away. Towards!

Now is Your Chance: Now is your chance to realize that you are NOT BROKEN. You may have been hurt and your heart may have been shattered into ten thousand pieces but you are whole and you are perfect.

Pre-order Simplereminders new book by clicking the poster above.

Pre-order Simplereminders new book by clicking the poster above. Thanks to Elizabeth Gilbert for the quote. To order a signed copy of The Signature of All Things from Two Buttons click here. signed copy of The Signature of All Things from Two Buttons click here

 

Jennifer Pastiloff, Beauty Hunter, is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Salon, among others. Jen’s leading one of her signature retreats to Ojai, Calif. over New Years. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up: South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Kripalu Center For Yoga & Health, Tuscany. She is also leading a Writing + The Body Retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch Jan 30-Feb 1 in Ojai (2 spots left.) She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.

Inspiration, Owning It!, Self Image

What is True About YOU?

December 22, 2012

I get emails daily. Really beautiful, humbling, sometimes Oh My God, this is making me bawl emails. I can’t always respond but I always read them at least twice. A while ago I posted some questions on my Facebook as I do often. I asked What do people tell you about you? What do you tell yourself about you? What do you know to be true about you?

Below is an email I got from someone who has given me permission to share. I will omit her name, however.

I love you all.

~~~~

Jennifer, I’m too shy or maybe too private to post to Facebook; although, I really would like to try and answer your questions. It’s mainly for myself that I would like to answer the 3 parts of your question:

1) what do people tell you about you?

2) what do you tell yourself about you?

3) what do you KNOW to be true about you?

People tell me that I’m a sweetheart, very loving, friendly, spiritual and they can tell me anything. They also tell me that I always know what to say when they need help! My fiancé and partner thinks I’m extremely intelligent, good to the core and made for him. People tell me I look way younger than my age and I’m beautiful.

 I tell myself that thank God I have taken the right paths in life to change my life around and become the woman I am today at 65. I finally realize that I’m a great Mother, Grandmother, partner and friend and that I treat all people like they are important, whether it’s the cashier, mail carrier that I stop to chat with or the woman carrying her Hermes bag! I also tell my self that deep down I am fragile, but on the outside I am a very strong women who knows how to survive.

What I know is the truth about me is that I am truly very vulnerable, I know that I am very pretty and don’t look my age, but feel that is a curse as well as a compliment, I want to grow old gracefully and want to experience aging without feeling that I’m being judged every step of the way because I too will look old any day now. I also know that I am much brighter that I ever thought I was and very grateful that I have come so far in my life. I am also grateful for the gifts that have come my way from the universe and I’m trying to live my life as the best person I can be and yet be a little bit naughty at times. I wish I had a better sense of humor and knew how to laugh out loud and be able to cry out loud as well.

Jennifer, thank you for all of your postings, I have become a fan of yours because I am too a yogi and love all of your spiritual thoughts. Love, J. your fellow yogi

seek-truth1

 

I would love to hear below YOUR answers to the 3 questions. Don’t be shy! Happy Holidays. I love you guys.

Inspiration, loss, Manifestation Retreats, Things I Have Lost Along The Way

I Have Not Died.

December 1, 2012

I don’t remember much of China.

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To not be cold, Please let me get warm, I remember this. To stay in my hotel room and watch the ice skaters on the Houhai Lake from 16 floors up, Please I promise I will eat if I don’t die from frostbite. Am I dying? I remember that.

That’s really all I wanted at the time: to not be cold. (I was always so cold.) To dream of what I would eat. More white rice than I had ever allowed myself to have in the past . I didn’t trust any of the food, (not just there but anywhere during that period of my life, and especially in China where I had no idea what I was eating except it was in a brown sauce). I will just have white rice I would ask someone who looked like they spoke English to translate for me. More white rice. So much white rice. It’s all I saw when we rode in the backs of buses in search of temples and people living on houseboats in Suzhou. All I wanted was to be warm like it was a life or death situation, which is how it felt to me during all those years I was starving myself, and, which in actuality, it probably was. All I can remember about those years is that I was always freezing, nails purple, lips blue, hands cold. China in Janary was brutal. I was freezing and hungry and my eyes were closed during most of the trip because if I opened them I would have to see.

I think about that trip a lot, and my years living in NYC. If only I had been awake! How different my life would be. If only I had paid attenion. Where was I?

I don’t know where I was. Somewhere beween living and dead. Closer to dead.

But I haven’t died.

I am still here.

I am now closer to the living.

In 11 days, I am turning the age my father was when he died in. I was 8 years old and I knew for sure this is when people die. Yet here I am. Here I am in my pajamas and a glass of wine, listening to the muted rain competing with the ringing in my ears and wondering if other adults stay in their pajamas at 6:30 on a Saturday night and how could I be an adult when I don’t know how to do so many things? 

And then I come back. Come back, Jen. Come back. To the land of the living, come back.

Here I am. I have not died.

I kept hearing that line in my head and I wanted to write it as we took off from Taipei to Los Angeles but I thought that if we crashed I would have caused it. See, if Jen had never said that, if she had never assumed that we would be safe, we would be fine. It is her fault. So I didn’t write it then. But now here I am in my pajamas that belonged to my grandmother who died less than a year ago. I didn’t have any feelings for my grandmother, (hold off on judging please), so when my mom gave me the pajamas: Jen, take these, they’re new. Never been worn, I had no issue. I needed some pj’s. I have no sentimental I miss my gramma so much every time I wear them. They are my pajamas and if I didn’t know they had been hers I wouldn’t know. There aren’t any ghosts or messages within the fabric or any secret keys to forgiveness in the little flowers. They are kind of tacky and I love them for that. I write well in them.

So I am in a dead woman’s pajamas on a Saturday evening but I did not die.

I am here.

I am having a hard time being back from Bali. I taught two classes this morning then came home, put on said pajamas and curled back in bed. I hit decline every time the phone rang. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I don’t want the trip to end, I want to stay in the safety of being away from responsibility, from fear, from I have to’s.

When we went to China we stopped in Alaska on the way. It was dark and looking out the windows of the airport were fields of snow or at least that is how I like to remember it. I wrote postcards and leaned against the glass as we waited for the flight to China. Flying to Bali made me remember these things as if I tucked them away and forgot where I put them. Oh, there you are, years of my life! Ah! Age 20-30, there you are. I thought I had lost you.

Maybe it all comes rushing back at you like they say in the movies. Maybe your life comes rushing at you whether you are dying or not. Maybe this birthday is like a re-birth. I mean, I survived it. All those years I planned on being gone by 38. No, not consciously, but in the deep recesses of my sadness and the place where my poems are born, where I drowned myself in yoga, in those kinds of places.

Maybe your life comes rushing at you and you better be prepared or you will miss it again. I think the second chance is really the last chance. If you survive. I mean, if you make it past your due date, (which I have, so to speak), and you miss your life again because your eyes are closed. Well, that’s your fault, Kiddo.

But hey, who’s missing anything?

I am here.

The flight from Bali was much better than the flight from China from what I remember although, again, I don’t trust my memory. I could have flown first class for all I recall (I didn’t) but I was so checked out, so hungry, so tired and old at 21 that I wouldn’t have realized it.

Each place you go, you take a piece of that place with you to the next.

Whether the place is literal or not. Whether it is pain or joy or a child or darkness or heartbreak or love or your 20’s. You take a piece of it with you whether you realize it or not. In China, I saw women who would not be broken by the cold. Women who lived on dingy boats on a freezing river. Eventually, when I stopped being cold and started eating I realized I had taken a piece of their tenacity with me. And from Bali a sense of commitment to their offerings, how seriously they take what they give. And how I do the same.

I have not died yet. I am here to share with you my journey which is about to start. I have crossed over to the other side and I am taking with me all the things I want to which include the places I have been and the people and the cold and the places I think I went but can’t remember. They are mine to not remember. I am taking all of it because I realize at this threshold of life and death that what makes us is not just blood and bone but what we have seen, where we have been, who we have loved, who we have hurt, where we are going and what we know we can do.

I know I can do this. I can go beyond where I thought I would ever go with grace and dignity and when I finally get there, wherever my dad is, if I ever get there, I will have earned it. And it will be my time. And I will tell him all about my adventures and how 38 is not really the age all people die. How young it really is and how although I am sure he is happy, wherever he is, he missed out on so much.

But that’s neither here nor there.

For now, I am here.

I am among the living. 

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~Bali

China

China

Inspiration, my book

The Yes Within You.

November 12, 2012

We write to remember.

Perhaps that’s why I never kept a journal, why I never wrote things down. I didn’t want to remember. Why now as I sit down to write this book which has been gnawing at every gnawable part of me, I am berating myself for not remembering the details. How could I not have kept journals? How will I remember what I need to say? I can’t even remember to meet someone for lunch.

This is how: I will dig deep in my imagination, into the Cave of Remembering so I can share with you any insight I have as to how I have transformed my life, in both little ways, and very very big ways. In all the ways I can describe from my memory and all the ways I can allow myself to admit to.

This journey hasn’t always been pleasant, as most of us know when it comes to journeys. Sometimes long and arduous and filled with sketchy characters and other times free of turbulence and sprinkled with long wine-filled dinners and belly laughs. We also know this about journeys: some go as planned and some suck because your passport gets lost and you miss the train or the plane and your boyfriend dumps you before the trip even starts.

As I begin to write this book I think about what inspires me. What it really feels like to be inspired. The sensations in my body, the way my skin feels hot and my heart becomes a train in my chest. The way I sweat just on my upper lip and I feel as if I drank two espressos.

I am inspired by the human spirit. By people who have overcome adversity of some sort. By the triumph of will. By grace and by possibility. By struggle. By art. By connection. By loss. By love. By touch. By sadness. By death. By laughter.

Perhaps we are all inspired by these things. Why when we see someone with no legs win a race or someone with a fatal disease face the day with an attitude we could only dream of possessing, it makes us want to jump up and down and reclaim our humanness. Yes, yes I am part of that race! I belong to humankind that produces stories such as these!

On some level, we all are up against something. Some people have a leg that has been amputated, some have a baby who is dying, some have a rare genetic syndrome or are deaf, some just feel very lost in a sea of people who know what they want or pretend to know what they want. Some can’t make up their mind even when it comes to whether they want salmon or pizza.

I recognize that quality, that Yes in a person when life should be screaming No. We want to be part of that Yes. We want to be reminded that the Yes is within us.

 

By Jenni Young of course.

 

I had no idea a few years ago that I would ever be seen as “inspiring” as some of you have lovingly said. (It’s still very surreal.) I had no idea that I wouldn’t be taking orders for eggs for the rest of my life. I am not sure what else to call myself, and frankly, it doesn’t matter what I call myself. I gave that notion up recently.

The constant naming of things. The calling of this or that and how much weight we give each particular name. The notion that it actually matters what we do for work, that it defines us in some way. The notion that who I was when I was a waitress is any different than who I am now. I had no idea back then when I was serving veggie burgers that a few years later I would be sharing my story with the world and traveling with it. That I would be helping young girls overcome eating disorders or connecting with other people who were hard of hearing.

What I am saying is: I had no idea I would become a vehicle for hope.

We all have that potential within us. To be vehicles. What kind of vehicle do you want to be, is the question.

How many times do I take for granted the effect I am having in the world? How many times do you? How many times a day do I feel redundant or small?

It’s not always easy to acknowledge ourselves, that sometimes it feels like we are jumping out of a plane. Hell, it feels like we are being pushed out of the plane.

How often do you stop and say Holy Shit, my words are having an impact on someone? Who I am being in the world is directly affecting someone else’s life as well as my own?

Now, you may not curse as much as I do. I hope you don’t because I am like a dirty sailor, but, curse words or not, get clear on the fact that who you are being today, right now, in this very moment is not irrelevant.

You never know who you are affecting.

You never know how you are affecting them.

So just know.

Just know it somewhere deep in the knowing part of you. Keep being exactly who you are and keep being better at it every day.

That’s all you can do.

Despite losing my father, my life line, at a very young age, despite battling depression and an eating disorder and hearing loss, I learned to hear my heart for the first time. I learned to listen to the calling that was my life. I learned to be better than I used to be.

I don’t claim to know a lot.

I know what happened to me and the choices I made which got me to where I am now. I know what hurt and what made me soar with delight.

I know now who I am and my only hope in telling my tale is that you too will begin to listen to your own heart. To the beating which is whispering Yes Yes Yes.

photo ny Jenni Young of course

Forgiveness, Guest Posts

The Orchid of Forgiveness.

November 7, 2012

The Orchid of Forgiveness by Nancy Alder

This morning I walked into one of my bathrooms ready to throw out an orchid that I thought was done.  I had forgotten to water it for weeks.  I had forgotten to open the window and give it more light.  I had forgotten this orchid.

But there it was in the window with not one but two new bloom stalks that had show up virtually overnight.  This fighter, this beautiful and simple warrior had decided to bloom again despite my lack of care.

I realized that the orchid had forgiven me.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

 –Gandhi

We need to learn to be more like orchids and allow ourselves to forgive and grow.  That does not mean to not be angry, do not fight and do not express your displeasure with a situation or a person.  Just simply, do not hold on to those things and let them cause you to wither.  Acknowledge your feelings, create a space for them and then let them go.

My yoga practice is a place where I am able to practice forgiveness.  Life gets in the way of every asana, vinyasa and Bakasana I would love to do on more occasions than I care to admit.  Yet when I return to the mat I find my practice is waiting to fit with where I am at that moment.  Is there resistance?  You bet!  But there is also space for growth and exploration.   I am able to forgive myself for not making time, for putting others first and for letting things get in my way.  I explore new places to find forgiveness towards others, to experience my feelings and to then let them go.

I find a way to stretch, release, and grow just like the orchid had done in my neglect.

“To err is human.  To forgive is divine.” –Alexander Pope

As I write this I think of my friend who forgave me when I did not acknowledge the importance of a special milestone in her life.  I think of the way my elves still love me even when my mean mommy side comes out too frequently.  I think of the how my husband moves heaven and Earth to allow me to do trainings when it causes stress on his schedule.  I think of how much forgiveness I have been given and how it is time to give back.

To those who have hurt me and from whom I have received silence, anger and vitriol, I forgive you.  To the ones who forget to email, call or visit, I know it was not personal.  To those I have unfriended, to those I have cut out and to those whom I have never let in, my door is open for you.

It is time for us all to move on to a place of blooming and growth.  It is time for us to be like my orchid.

I am not perfect but I am strong.  I know neglect is not a sign of hatred or dislike, but rather that love is still there waiting to show itself again.  I know my yoga practice will give me space to forgive myself and my heart has space to forgive others.

I am thankful to my little purple orchid for reminding me how important it is to forgive.  I gave it water this morning and opened the window.  I will remember more often to take care of it and take care of myself.  I will remember to let go and forgive.

How can you allow yourself to bloom and grow?  What or whom can you forgive?

Nancy Alder is a 200H EYRT  in Connecticut. She teaches her students to connect with space and breath from a place of safety and humor. She writes for many yoga blogs and chronicles her daily practice to find yoga in all places on her own blog, Flying Yogini. She is co-founder of Teachasana, a site by yoga teachers for yoga teachers. When not writing or doing yoga she is in awe of her elves, busting asanas in crazy places and counting the days until the next snowfall.
healing, Inspiration

Can You Look at the “Crappy” Things & Say Thank You?

October 28, 2012

I’ve been thinking lately about the things in my life that I threw my fists to the sky about and yelled: It’s just not fair! Why? Why me? Why my family? 

I have been thinking about those things, and maybe because I am about to enter the age my father was when he died, or maybe simply because enough time has passed, but I have started to find the gifts in those things.

love this poster by my bestie Karen Salmansohn of notsalmon.com

Oh, for the love of cliche, I can hear you say.

Ok, not always do I see the gifts as they happen. Not all the time. Maybe 78% of the time. Maybe 67%? Maybe 20%?

Look. I am a human being. Flesh and blood and moody and partially deaf. I still get angry sometimes when I think of my dad dying so young and I definitely miss him. I miss the idea of him all the time. Every day. That never goes away. I get annoyed that I can’t hear someone call my name. Yea. I do. Daily. But I have been able to recognize the gifts in the things in my life that I once looked upon as curses or faults.

I posed this question on my Facebook about an hour ago:

Has anything happened in your life that at the time you pereceived as “bad” “sad” “shitty” “unfair” etc which you now look at as a gift? Love to hear. Post below.

and to my delight I got such inspiring answers I felt I had to share in a blog. People being so vulnerable and open and wise. That’s the thing. The wisdom. How wise we get with time.

Does that mean the pain goes away?

No.

Not always.

But it softens around the edges and becomes bearable and eventually becomes a sigh or a nod but mostly it becomes a part of us and that part is who we are today. Right now. In this moment. 

thank you Jenni Young of Simplereminders.com

Here are some of the responses to my question on Facebook:

Has anything happened in your life that at the time you pereceived as “bad” “sad” “shitty” “unfair” etc which you now look at as a gift? Love to hear. Post below.

Alanna Jane: Becoming disabled 3.5 years ago!

Staci Pribush Job loss 2 years ago brought me to the most amazing new path!

Becky Stuto Cervical cancer. I had a hysterectomy at the age of 31 followed by divorce. This was the best thing in my life. It inspired me to live for myself, go to back to school, I remarried the love of my life, and pursue a master’s degree. I’m kicking ass.

Nicole Anderson Getting laid off in 2009 when the economy tanked. Tough time, but I grew and learned a LOT from it and would not be on the amazing path I am today had it not happened. It was a blessing in disguise!

Rachelle Smith Stokes My job right now. I see it as “Bad” but when I have time to reflect and when I am reminded, it does have some positive things I am learning from it.

Marilyn McClintic Kriz Absolutely…my marriage – I was considerable unhappy for much of it. But I received many gifts from it….the first being, of course, my children. But as far as ‘lessons learned’ gifts and personal growth, I learned about the addiction to people and relationships and how to recognize the signs and not go down that road again. I learned to follow my heart, my intuition instead of my fears when it comes to my relationships. I learned about the importance of being myself instead of who somebody else wanted me to be. I learned about the importance of communication. I learned how to end a relationship (marriage) in a constructive way. I could go on and on

Zoe Weldon Divorce and job loss lead to me living in my friend’s backyard in a tent at 33…that lead me to the most empowered, juicy, divine life. I now live near the beach, developed a gentle spiritual practice and have just started my own business. Best lessons ever.

Martha Meyer Barantovich Sexual abuse which was indeed very shitty led to bad and shitty decisions/events, but eventually taught me the meaning of strength and how to be empowered. I still learn from my life’s lessons regularly, but with power and strength!

 Rachel Michelson I’m 37 and was dx with stage IV colon cancer back in Jan. I’ll be fine. As a result, i’m so much closer to my dad–he flies from the east coast to the west coast every TWO WEEKS, so he can be here when i have chemo. and while, i don’t feel it all the time, i know this experience has made me stronger and much braver. 🙂

Fiona Williams Finally facing up to my mental health issues a couple of years ago. Still running, still hiding, but have slowed down and am *trying* to work with myself, not against myself.

Jessica Trowbridge My own parents divorced 5 times between the two of them, and my divorce was finalized just over a year ago. I have gotten to know myself SO much more than I would have without these experiences….I see people jumping from relationship to relationship (this is what my parents and ex did) without taking the time to know who they are by themselves. I realize this is easier said than done, but wouldn’t trade my self-discovery for anything! Still learning and, if I decide to enter into another relationship, I feel confident that I will be a much healthier, whole person in that coupling. Thank God.

Michelle Anderson-Weierbach I got pregnant with my 1st child at age 17. At the time I thought it was the worst thing on earth that could have happened to me. When she was born she was a sickly little rag doll, who needed tons of help and care. She was diagnosed with PWS when she was 3. All of this has been a gift and lessons in disguise for me and my family.

Lynn Marie Lost a job I had had for 18 years and loved (I was devastated), met some wonderful people at a volunteer job, time off led to new job, brought my family back together, was re-introduced to the love of my life! Life is so much better now! But if you had told me back then? I never would’ve believed it. So now, right now, I am looking at another job loss/financial desperation…but I am holding on to the knowledge of my last experience when I was in this position, and all the wonderful things that I NEVER could’ve imagined for myself….I am anxiously awaiting whatever good things life has in store for me!!!

Kristin Olson I didn’t get into top choices for college, grad school or my grad internship. Looking back though, the places I went were definitely the best choice for me but I couldn’t see it at the time. Thank you universe!

Ruthie Goldman Van Wijk Omg yes. My previous marriage falling apart horribly. And now I so happy, I teach yoga, am happily remarried, and run a yoga non-profit in Palestine!!! Wooo hoo!

Kathleen Quinn I worked for company that had layoff about 4 years ago. They had a committee that picked the people who would be laid off. They told me I was one of people they picked. At time I was surprised, upset a little bitter. I later realized that they did the right thing because I could not, in good conscience convince providers to accept their one sided contracts.

Abby Merin There’s many things I could say… but for me it’s in the past and unfortunately we can’t change what has already happened. However, what we can do is learn from our experiences, and use what we’ve learned to better our future. I’ve come out of my “storm of life” a little more stronger, a little more wiser, a little more empathetic, a little more insightful, a little more appreciative towards life (actually I would have to say A LOT more appreciative) a little more compassionate, a little more caring, a little more understanding, a little less disappointed, a little more passionate, a little more thankful, a little more loving, a little more confident, a little less selfish, a little less scared, and every little bit of what I have gained from my experience has made me who I am today. I’m making sure that I create a better version of myself…a better Abby. As my favorite lady Kelly Clarkson has said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” =)

Nicole Anderson Thanks so much for posing the question, Jennifer. It’s SO important for us to reflect on the meaning behind the challenges we face in life vs stay in a negative mindspace. We may get handed lemons, but it’s us to find the lemonade and gratitude in those experiences. You inspired and reminded many of us to be grateful for past adversities tonight, so thank you! You = ROCKSTAR!

MovingOn Cancer was the shittiest, most valuable “gift” I’ve received.

Leslie Jampolsky I thought g-d hated me when I was diagnosed with M.S. And that I could not return to work. At the time my children were 1 week old and 1 year old. When they became school aged I realized what a blessing it was to be a stay at home mom, where I could volunteer in school and be home for them when they got home from school. That I could help with their homework, cook dinners, make a warm breakfast, etc…… That is when I realized that I was truly blessed.

Andrea Rossetto Mom has kidney cancer right now, that has metastisized. She is very ill and has been hospitalized for nearly 2 weeks. This is about as horrible as it gets, feels tremendously unfair. To see her so ill is the most painful thing I have ever endured. This has been going on for 5 months. I am not grateful for a thing in this moment. Can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel right now, feel very alone and unsupported. I hope one day I can understand why this is happening. It is excruciating and paralyzing.

~~~~~

That last one. That last one.

What I want to say to Andrea is this: I know it sucks. And it does. And it is painful and unfair and I do not know if I buy into the bullshit ( yes, I said that) that everything happens for a reason. And yes, I am really sorry that you and mom are suffering. I am no stranger to this. What I know is this: there will be a gift eventually. Whether it comes in the form of you comforting another. Whether it comes in some art you make from it, because your pain is so deep, and that, my love, is what happens to pain transformed. It becomes art. if you let it.

Do not try and be grateful now.

Go through what you need to go through and then begin to heal but meanwhile read all the above comments. I hope they provide you with a small sense of hope, even a glimmer, the size of a dime or a truck. Whatever it may be, let them instill in you the hope that you will come out on the other side and most likely a better version of yourself. We get better if we let ourselves. I know I have. And a lot of that getting better has been because of the shitty (sorry, in a cursing mood) things I thought had happened to me. Father dying, hearing loss, stepfather dying, family losing everything, nephew diagnosed with rare disorder. All of it that I wanted so badly to bury in a sack and throw in a dirty river have created the very woman who is writing to you now and sending you a big fat hug and an invitation to scream and yell and cry and write as much as you want to me.

The rest of you: Bravo.

And to me: Bravo.

I am a better person than I used to be.

Are you?

**Add yours below!!!

courage, Eating Disorders/Healing, healing

This Is What Courage Looks Like.

October 25, 2012

Here is Part 2 by my Anonymous Guest Poster. This person is someone I met through my yoga classes and whom I am close to. She is working on opening up. I am very very proud of her. Read Part 1 called “What Happens When You Admit Out Loud That You Are Scared” here. The responses/comments are so inspiring it brought me to tears. They will blow you away. Just watch what happens when you admit you are scared, when you say you need help. Just watch! It’s downright amazing and magical.

Why are some imperfections in our lives so easy to share with others, whereas others are buried so deeply that we almost forget they are a part of us?

I have a serious candy addiction.

I love getting my hair blown out. So much that it’s probably also an addiction.

I will hashtag anything. My friends staged a #HashtagIntervention this summer.

I am very particular. I order food like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally.

I am not naturally inclined towards yoga; my body just does NOT want to do most of those poses.

These are all quirks of my personality that any of my friends can attest to; even those who follow me on Twitter know them. I’ve always thought of myself as an open book because I share funny, self-deprecating anecdotes about my life–sometimes with virtual strangers.

But what about the things I have never shared with anyone?

I never feel “normal”.

Sometimes when I’m adjusted in a yoga pose, it’s the only time someone has touched me all day. It can reduce me to tears.

I think the way I treated my sister when we were younger has contributed to her struggles, and could impact our relationship permanently. I worry we will never get past our past.

I am still haunted by a breach of trust that happened 15 years ago. It devastated me, and it affects my ability to trust everyone.

Every now and then I hibernate–lock the door, turn off my phone, and spend 2 days completely by myself at home. When friends ask about my weekend, I give vague answers so they don’t know that I did nothing, saw no one.

I struggle every single day with what I eat. It’s usually too much or too little based on my perception of my weight or my emotional state that day. It’s consuming, exhausting and often very isolating. It’s disordered.

I have an eating disorder.

As I work towards living with a more open heart, it feels crucial that I finally say these things out loud–to myself and to other people. And to own them by putting my name to them. These pieces that aren’t pretty, but are a part of me.

And it’s time I start dealing with them.

**Note from Jen. The author has told me to tell you her name. Katie. It’s Katie. Now, that’s courage. That was a very big deal for her. No last name yet, but I applaud her! We welcome your comments at the bottom. Please let Katie know that she is not alone! And feel free to share the things that you want to get off your chest. With nothing but love xojen

Inspiration, Manifestation Retreats

What Happens When You Admit Out Loud You Are Scared?

October 23, 2012

I am just back from my Manifestation Retreat. My biggest retreat to date. 47 people.

Our mantra: Be Fucking Amazing! 

And we were.

Last night, as a true testament to my retreat, about ten people from the retreat came to my yoga class at Equinox. They hadn’t seen each other in less than 24 hours and couldn’t bear to be apart.

Maybe this is my gift, after all? This power of connection, of being a connector? 

So after class we all go out to eat and it truly was the most inspiring group dinner I have ever had the pleasure of being part of in my whole life.

I came home to this email, which was sent to two other people. It was brave and it broke me. I was so touched.

With permission I am sharing. My request is that although the name remains anonymous, you comment below and let this person know that they are not alone in this. Not now.

Not ever.

Here is the email:

So I came home and cried tonight.

I went to one of the best yoga classes I have ever taken…surrounded by all of my new, fucking amazing friends. There was laughter, there was connection, there was love. It was truly a magical moment in time that I wanted to hold onto forever.

But at dinner afterwards, everyone started opening up about their feelings, and their struggles, and their experiences. It was so incredibly touching to see people who were strangers 3 days ago sharing their hearts. And, yet again, I couldn’t do the same. I couldn’t say “I’ve been there too”, or “My family is broken as well”, or “I’ve lost people I loved”. Even though all are true. I couldn’t open up.

I don’t know how.

I don’t know how to be vulnerable.

I don’t know how to tell people when they hurt my feelings.

I don’t know how to ask for help.

I don’t know how to not take everything so seriously.

I don’t know how to receive love.

I don’t know how to not be the person I have been for the last 34 years.

Where do I even start? 

Do I admit that I’m scared all the time? Of being alone, of not being accepted, of failure? Or that I can’t stop criticizing myself–when I look in the mirror, when I can’t do a yoga pose, when I don’t bring in that extra page of business? Or that I don’t think my family will ever really heal from everything we’ve gone through? 

What happens if I start saying these things out loud?

I really don’t know. But I want to. I don’t want to be the one on the outside looking in. The one who can’t truly connect past the surface level. The one who won’t let herself cry in front of other people.

I don’t want to be that person.

Maybe by telling 3 people, I will start to not be her.

photo by Joe Longo and poster by Jenni Young of Simplereminders.com. Both are fucking amazing!

So I ask you this. What happens when you admit out loud that you are scared all the time and all the other questions that were posed in this email?

Just watch the outpouring of love and support.

Just watch.

Post your comment below.

Keep being fucking amazing, xojen

And So It Is, Beating Fear with a Stick, Daily Manifestation Challenge

Annoying & Superficial.

October 9, 2012

Did that get your attention?

It got mine.

Earlier today, as I was home with a cold, nursing it so I didn’t have to relive the horror I experienced in Italy with getting sick like a dying dog, I amused myself by playing on the computer and reading. I found a funny E-card (a lot of them are really funny!) and it resonated me with (sadly) so I posted it. I thought it was hysterical.

Here it is:

Anyone who knows me well, knows my slight addiction (okay, not so slight) to my iPhone. Needless to say, I thought it was cute and funny so I shared it on my fanpage on Facebook, which, incidentally says “Jennifer Pastiloff Yoga.”

The irony of this story I am about to tell is not lost on me. Just this morning I was once again fretting that my page with almost 7 thousand “fans” says “Jennifer Pastiloff Yoga” and not just “Jennifer Pastiloff” as if the yoga part limits me. As if it will make me not a real writer, but a wannabe yoga teacher/writer. Once you get over 100 “fans” you can’t change a name. C’est l’avie.

Except I obsess on it. Like it matters.

(It doesn’t. Not really.)

Anyway, I post funny iPhone picture (see above) and a girl who I have never met and who apparently lives in The Netherlands (I told the story in class and by sheer Freudian slip called it Neverlands) posted under it: OMG! You are too annoying and superficial to be a yoga inspiration.

What the what?

You are in my house, woman!

She is on my page. Why even comment? Don’t like it? Ignore it. Don’t like me? Don’t like my page!

I looked her up and her profile had one quote. A Mother Theresa quote on love: “I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no hurt, but only more love” and her religious views as love and peace written over and over again.

Where is the congruency? 

Of course it made a few things happen inside of me.

1) Question myself.

Until I got how absurd that was. The fact that I was letting a woman (who knows if she is a woman. It could be a fake profile) whom I have never met, determine how I feel about myself.

2) It had me look at where I am not being congruent.

Where I am posting love and peace love and peace love and peace and yet living hate and gossip? It was actually a little gift because I chuckled at her quotes, not because I was making fun of her but because I thought: we all do this. To some degree, we all have discrepancy in our lives. Maybe not that big. Maybe you would never post on someone’s Facebook or the equivalent how annoying and superficial they are. But still.

3) How I defended myself and I NEVER need to do that.

Under the said picture I wrote ‘how important it was for you to have a sense of humor in my world and in my class bla bla bla’. The thing is, I didn’t need to say that. Or think it. I was defending myself to someone who is not in my tribe, who in no way has any bearing on my life, who said something that actually has nothing to do with me.

4) How happy I felt that I was a kind person and that I attract kind people.

After she wrote that I wrote the following on my page:

Find Your Tribe.

You know, the ones that make you feel the most YOU. The ones that lift you up and help you remember who really are. The ones that remind you that a blip in the road is just that, a blip, and not to mistake it for an earthquake and even it were to be an earthquake they’d be there with the Earthquake Emergency Supply Kit. They are the ones that when you walk out of a room, they make you feel like a better person than when you walked in. They are the ones that even if you don’t see them face to face as often as you’d like, you see them heart to heart. You know, that kind of tribe?

She is not in my tribe. Why do we spend time on the people who don’t like us? I certainly can’t be the only one?

So I am happy she wrote that I was superficial and annoying. It made me dig deep.

As far as being a yoga inspiration? She made that up. I never said dem words!

As Wayne Dyer says: If you meet 200 people you will have 200 reputations.

I know who I am.

That’s all that matters.

I will tell you right now who I am if you tell me below. Will you? Start the sentence with I am _____.

Here goes: I am compassionate, empathetic, sloppy, disorganized, witty, perceptive, pretty deaf, someone who loves sleep, wine and coffee, a yoga teacher, inspiring, distracted, a lover of her phone and being overly connected to a fault, loyal, sometimes obsessive, a healer, a connector, a manifester, authentic, nostalgiac, sensitive, moody and a writer.

Where can you own who you are and live with congruency?

Take the challenge. I am. xo, Jen

Poster by SimpleReminders.com. Pre-order their book (which I am in!!): https://www.SimpleReminders.info Subscribe for more: https://www.bryantmcgill.net

Poster by SimpleReminders.com.
Pre-order their book (which I am in!!): https://www.SimpleReminders.info
Subscribe for more: https://www.bryantmcgill.net

Thank you Simplereminders.com for this!

*update: since the writing of this blog, Facebook has indeed changed the name of my page and dropped the Yoga bit. But, at the end of the day, it did not matter. 

Jennifer Pastiloff, Beauty Hunter, is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Salon, among others. Jen’s leading one of her signature retreats to Ojai, Calif. over New Years. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up: South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Kripalu Center For Yoga & Health, Tuscany. She is also leading a Writing + The Body Retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch Jan 30-Feb 1 in Ojai (2 spots left.) She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.

Manifestation Workshops, manifesting, Owning It!, Wayne Dyer

What’s Your Miami?

October 8, 2012

What’s Your Miami?

Somewhere between Albuquerque and Flagstaff, headed back to Los Angeles. That’s where I am right now. I get my best writing done on airplanes. Flying back after a weekend of workshops in Miami. It was my first time in Miami, which seems slightly unbelievable being that I am a Jew from Jersey, a fact I attribute our moving to California and then back again like gypsies in search of sustainable weather or a father. Nonetheless, it was my first time and I felt more like I was visiting from some distant country (or Kansas) than L.A. How in awe I was at the balmy weather, at the sky, the view from my friend’s condo, water on all sides. The sky seemed lower, close enough to me that I could reach up and grab a fistful of air if I wanted to. The clouds with their secrets stuffed inside of them and if we waited long enough with our iPhone cameras and Instagrams we could catch the secrets exploding into a million particles of light, raindrops, streaks of purple and pink, golden ambers, all the things that make people click “like” or “share” on a photo.

The moodiness of the place felt like home to me. I recognized how easy it was to one moment be bright and yellow and the next, a misty grey where you couldn’t see the gaudy cruise ships or the lights any longer, just a fine haze with all its edges lost.

And it was hot. It was a whole new world for me, only having been to Florida one other time, last summer, on a road trip with my sister, her husband, their new puppy Timber, and my two nephews. My oldest nephew Blaise has a rare genetic disorder called Prader Will Syndrome and his doctor is in Gainesville at the Univeristy (people drive and fly from all over the world to see her.) We were taking a weekend mini-holiday at a small coastal town a couple hours away from the University called Flagler Beach before heading to Dr. Miller on the way back to Georgia where they live. I sat wedged in the back between Maddock (who hit me almost the whole time) and Blaise and Timber.

It was a long long ride.

The beach town had been cute. It was so different than California and I spent most of the weekend tickled by this difference. The water is so warm! So different than California! It’s so calm! It’s so humid! As if I hadn’t grown up in New Jersey and spent summers down the shore. As if I had never experienced this type of weather or the Atlantic Ocean.

Its easy to forget that our lives are not it. That it doesn’t stop and end with our town, our street, our weather, our children, our problems. I forgot that there was weather outside of California. I forgot that there was another ocean besides the Pacific. I forgot that palm trees actually grew places and weren’t simply placed there as an aesthetic gem. Miami is very different from that sleepy town last summer although I adored that sleepy town and the little local fish restaurant we went to where we ate off paper plates and drank beer. I was also with my nephews and I wouldn’t trade anything for Blaise saying Ocean, Jenny, ocean? And then sitting at the shoreline with him on my lap as he grips me for dear life with that combination of terror and delight children love to feel.

My Miami workshops at Green Monkey went really well.

It was a big step for me. Being flown to a place where I have no “following” per se, to do my thing.

What if no one came? and all the other usual fear based thoughts fought their way to the top of the food chain of my mind.

They came. They loved it.

The biggest deal for me really was the fact that Skye and Sommer Dyer came to my Friday night Karaoke Yoga workshop. They are 2 of the daughters of my beloved teacher, Dr. Wayne Dyer. (Sommer is the one who will be assisting me at my Maui retreat in February and if I can manifest Wayne coming over to talk to my group then I will have accomplished one of my greatest dreams.) Wayne truly changed my life and anyone who has spent any time with me, especially in my classes or workshops, knows how often I quote him and speak of him. I have become friends with his daughters and they drove 1.5 hours to come. It was a little unnerving at first because I quote him all the time so I felt nervous and self-conscious.

That lasted a few moments. Once I start, I get channeled in a way that I don’t pretend to understand and I forget all about who is in the room. My intention becomes clear. Skye is a beautiful singer (if you have ever heard Wayne speak or seen his PBS specials, you have heard her sing.) She sang for us in savasana and it was like one of those moments when you are at once outside of yourself and yet so utterly present at that it is almost unbearable, the surge of emotion a reminder that you are very much alive despite moments of depression or feeling lost or confused or any of the other ways in which we go slack. Its like the feeling you have when you get married, and, I am guessing, when you give birth. Is this my life? and Yes, this is my life! joining in such a way that time stops, your breath catches and you feel solid and essential to the world like soil air.

The workshop on Saturday was lovely as well. I felt really proud of myself. I have taught in Philly and NYC and NJ and sold the workshops out, but Miami? I had one friend there and no students or tribe. Yet, I did it.

I. Did. It.

And they showed up.

One woman, the beautiful Sue, flew from Michigan to take my workshops in Miami. That was a huge moment for me, to acknowledge that. She follows me on Facebook and reads my blog and from that she flew all the way to another state to attend my workshop. I am owning that. I think it can be too easy (for me at least) to own the things about me I don’t like or what I have done “wrong” but when it comes to just being with the fact that someone is moved by me, or thanking me, well, that is as difficult as telling someone just who you are and having them look in your eyes for 3 minutes without speaking or moving. And yes, we do that in my workshops.

So I am looking in the proverbial eye of it all and accepting it. Owning it. Taking responsibility for what I did. This is not a random thing. There is a cause and effect.

I manifested this. By imagining it first and then working toward it, all the while staying true to myself and being authentic.

I wonder how often we don’t realize our own gifts? Or else we do, and we feel we somehow don’t deserve to own them?

I am on a plane heading back and feeling good. I will be back. I feel calmer than I have in a while, less anxiety, more present. Perhaps it has to do with all the travel I had over the last few months and I can sit here and say Wow from 30,000 feet at all I have accomplished. Perhaps because there is no wi-fi in flight. Perhaps its hormones? Who knows? Who cares.

It is terrifying going into the unknown. It really is. I get it.

I was told before going how Miami loved its physical practice, its handstands, its power yoga. Its not that I don’t do that stuff, I do. I slip it in, I use it as a causeway. But it is not what you think of when you think of a Jen Pastiloff class or workshop.

I went anyway and I stayed true to who I was and what I do and they came and they loved it. If I had let my fear sway me I would have cancelled, I would have shirked, I would have changed myself to fit in with the status quo.

I leave you with this as we are about to land and I have to shut my computer:

Where are you playing small?

What is your “Miami?”

What are you scared of?

What are you willing to do anyway?

Where can you go that you have never been before, both literally and in your imagination?

Simplereminders.com are incredible. Check them out. Thanks for this poster of me in Miami!

Looking into someone’s eyes is powerful business. I am ______.

Here are 3 emails I got today from 3 people who attended my Miami workshops: 

Dear Jen, I don’t think I can thank you enough Jen. I would have never thought taking a karaoke yoga workshop could have changed my life that way that it is. I was very hesitant to sign up for the workshop. It was something that initially I didn’t think I would have enjoyed it as much as I did. I have so many things to be proud of but always searched for the approval of the people that wronged me and never believed in me. I always belittled my accomplishments. I always made excuses. Now I am finally starting to feel free from them. I value myself so much more than I did before I walked into that workshop on Friday. I put on my post-it: LOVE. When I first put it on my post-it I was thinking of manifesting an awesome man to love and love me back. I had it all wrong though. I want to manifest love for myself. Thank you for inspiring me to be my true self without the fear. I wish you nothing but the best! You are a God send and it has been such a blessing for me to have had the chance to meet such an amazing person!

~~~~~~~

Hey Jen ~THANK YOU for yesterday. It was beyond what I thought it would be and it was life transforming, truly. I feel like I woke up today with fresh eyes and a better outlook. It was astonishing to me how much you and the workshop resonated with me. I too have battled depression, its always nice to know I’m not alone. I too ALWAYS say “i’m tired.” Not today! I have literally talked myself out of it, manifesting an abundance of energy 🙂 Yesterday, I posted on the Green Monkey wall ‘happiness.’ Thats what I am manifesting. And our ‘HI-YA!!!’ bit, I was kicking the shit out of fear! Ha! Thank you!

~~

Hi Jennifer, I cannot stop thinking about the workshop you did on Saturday at Green Monkey. It’s amazing how we weren’t supposed to participate but by a twist of fate were able to. There are no coincidences in life. I loved every minute of it. When we were doing the forgiveness/breathing exercise you came up to me and gently placed your hand on my back as if to say “it’s ok to let go”.

I was in the process of forgiving myself for not being the person who I thought I would be in my life right now.