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the chronology of water

Guest Posts, Jen's Musings, Owning It!

Here’s What The F*ck I Am Going To Do About It.

February 26, 2015

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By Jen Pastiloff.

For Lidia Yuknavitch, my teacher, my heart sister, my friend.

I haven’t blogged in a while so here I am. Hi, hello, hi. I’m in Los Angeles, here at home for a few days before I hit the road again for more workshops.

A few weeks ago, I led a retreat in Ojai, California, with Lidia Yuknavitch, who wrote The Chronology of Water. The Writing & The Body Retreat. And yes, it was everything you’d imagine- and then some. And yes, we are doing it again in September.

In my own workshops, I ask people to write about the things that get in their way and the fears they have and what they are afraid of. I ask them to write and share about all sorts of things. That’s why the subtitle is On Being Human. It is not a “writing” workshop, per se, although there’s writing. Mostly, it’s about what it means to be a human being. They laugh and cry and let the snot fly, as I like to say.

And then I always ask this: Now what? Now what?

So you wrote about it and shared it out loud and you may “want to be a writer” and you may not, no matter really, what really matters is this: what now?

Writing and sharing is hard, and I think a pretty big deal, but you can write until you are blue in the face and go on retreats and camps and workshops and whatever but what are you going to do?

This is where I get stuck.

I talk a good talk.

But then I sit here and stare out the window all day.

So, when Lidia gives a prompt that is so similar to what I ask except she asks it in her Lidia-esque way, I know that this woman is my heart. She asks the group what was main thing was that was getting in their way. I participated in this one.

What was getting in my way? She asked us to write down the first thing we thought of.

Okay, done.

My own self gets in my way. Me.

Then she gave this exact prompt, and this is really where I knew I loved her for life, “And here’s what the fuck I am going to do about it.” We had five minutes.

This is what came out of it for me. This is my Now what?

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Letter Against Fear. By Lidia Yuknavitch.

July 29, 2014

By Lidia Yuknavitch

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This is me running away from home for the first time.

I’m three. I have a small plastic suitcase and a big scary looking doll. Look at that thing. My cat “spice” is in the foreground, probably wondering where I’m going. My sister is in the background, nearly out of the frame, in the most glorious red dress.

I went to the edge of the yard and sat on the curb for about 30 minutes.

The house is near Stinson beach near San Francisco, where I was born. The yard was filled with fruit trees. The house was filled with anger. My sister and I were terrified most of our childhoods. My father bred fear into the bodies of his daughters.

And yet look at me. In that moment of the picture, taken by my mother who no doubt thought it looked cute, like mothers do, I knew what to do. Volition.

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