Browsing Tag

vulnerable

And So It Is, Beating Fear with a Stick, writing

On Discovering You Are Still Human.

December 9, 2012

Here’s a promise I make to you, my Tribe. I will always be: honest, vulnerable and my most unadulterated self, without any fluff or bullshit to lead you into thinking I am any better or worse than I really am, (as if those words actually mean anything.)

If you don’t like it, this pledge to be me, as it were, you probably haven’t “liked” my blog and aren’t reading this. And that’s ok, I don’t feel rejected. In fact, I probably don’t even know and neither do you. (It’s better that way.)

But for those who have connected with me, and me to you, listen up. This is for you. I am committed to what I have started which is: a call to arms, a rally cry, a demonstration of what it means to be real person, not a shadow living in the peripheries, not a status update, not a perfect yoga teacher or daughter or wife or any of the words that could move in quietly after the word perfect but rather a human being with faults and cracks and and histories and mistakes. I do not have a lesson plan for this. What I know to be true is that human beings forget that we are all human beings, so sometimes, when someone reminds us, when they literally shove an example in our face like a crumpled up coffee stained map and we have no choice but to pull over in the car and stop on the side of the road to read the map with its coffee stink and fingerprints and out-of-dated-ness, we somehow find our way.

Someone else’s journey can help us along, sometimes, on our own. It doesn’t always get us to where we are going. Like I said, the map is probably out of date, having been shoved under the passenger seat of someone else’s car for Lord knows how long, but its something.

Its something.

I was in a great mood this morning even though I drank too much cheap red wine at a party last night. (Human attritube #1: I drink and teach yoga and have a spiritual practice.) The thing is, with cheap red wine, you do not have to drink much for it to be too much. Nonetheless, I woke up happy and inspired and knew I would teach a fantastic yoga class. And so it is. Happiness is decided beforehand. I heard that recently and fell in love with it. I decided beforehand. My class will be one of those classes where I have to stop myself from thinking that This is a fluke. This can’t be possible that this many people come to my class and are so open, so willing to listen and shift. I am going to have to wait tables again tomorrow because this must be a dream. I am not even that good at yoga.

(Human attribute #2: I am a really good yoga teacher (at least I think.) No, I know. And, I am actually not that good at yoga. Whatever that means. (Read: I can’t balance for 2 minutes in the center of the room in a handstand and I don’t know all the sanskrit and I can’t put my leg behind my head and I still think triangle pose is hard.)

It wasn’t a dream. My class was packed and the room almost moved in synchronicity (almost never happens, especially in the early Sunday morning class. Come on! It’s Sunday morning for Chrissakes.) The room was bursting with love (cliche, notwithstanding, it was so love filled and in sync it could have been a parody.) The theme was related to my 5 Most Beautiful Things Project and how beauty connects us.

How if we let it, we can channel it.

May I always be a channel of beauty. For beauty. May the beauty I see be who I am. May I always see the beauty. I am sure I uttered that somewhere in between vinyasas and backbends.

You must understand, I teach at a gym. A gym! Yes, it is the very high end Equinox, but still, a gym. I teach at a gym and the people (my Tribe) who come to my class are so into what we are doing, they let me be who I am (a human) and I let them be who they are. It is astounding sometimes and perhaps why I feel like its a fluke. How can this be happening at a gym? What shift is taking place in consciousness? My class is NOT easy but it is by no means asana (posture) based. And yet it is packed.

So I am feeling good and on purpose and probably my ego is a little on fire and someone signed up for my Maui retreat and also Ojai based on my writings, so yea I am feeling gooood. Until I check my email and get a rejection email from a literary site I wanted to write. I will call it “R.” I say literary because it is not like the inspirational sites I usually write for. It’s a bit more cynical, more witty, less woo woo. I wanted it because then I would be a real writer. 

(Human attribute #3: I struggle with the notion of being a real writer even though I know that is a made up term. What’s a real writer? One that isn’t plastic? That’s not made from Coke bottles or cereal boxes? What is a real anything? What is a normal anything? These terms don’t exist and yet I strive for someone to name me. Name me a writer, call me “writer”, please? Award me with that.)

(Human attribute #4:  How no matter how much self work or inner work I do, rejection still hurts. It may not hurt for as long but it still does.)

All of a sudden I shut down. Just like that. One email later, I crawl back into my unmade bed (Human attribute #5: I don’t make the bed. Not a lot) and feel sorry for myself and also angry and also that I couldn’t write and why bother when I am just going to get rejected and how snooty “real writers” are and how I am just seen as a yoga teacher and who the Hell am I anyway?

So I get up and write.

Why? It is cathartic to me and because, my hope is that when I share some of the things I go through that make me feel very very human and raw, sometimes you will relate. Ah! I don’t feel so alone as you lay in your own unmade bed. That’s it. I am hoping that by passing you my old dirty coffee stained out-of-date map that you will take it with a grain of salt, with love, and with the notion that I am most undoubtedly NOT Superhuman. That I still think rejection sucks and it hurts but that I got over it quicker this time (I did. I actually feel better now.)

(Human attribute #6: I write because I have to. It’s what I do with the pain. With the rejection. And with the love. It’s what I have to do.)

To the site “R” who said that the piece is not for us, well, that’s okay. It’ll find a home. It always does, doesn’t it?

When our hearts get broken and we think we will never love again, not ever, this is the last time, I am swearing off love! we do and we do and we do.

(Human attribute #7: I am doing very well but that I still have fits of feeling unworthy based on someone’s opinion. Case in point, “R” rejects me and I fall apart. And sometimes, despite “overcoming” anorexia, I still have days where I feel so fat but that mostly I am happy to be here in my skin as Jennifer Pastiloff.)

And that if I continue to allow myself to decide on my happiness ahead of time that the moments of happiness will far outweigh the moments of feeling like I am doing it wrong, that I have made a mistake.

Here’s to being human, guys. I am raising my glass to yours. Cheers.

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Guest Posts, healing

Confessions of an Imperfect Life.

November 9, 2012

This is another follow-up post to The “What Happens When You Admit Out Loud That You Are Scared” post by my anonymous blogger. If you haven’t read it yet, click here and read it before you proceed.

Ok, now we can proceed.

She is no longer anonymous. Her name is Katie Devine. And, based on the outpouring of love and support she has started her very own blog called Confessions of an Imperfect Life.

 

I asked her how it felt to have been so open and vulnerable and this is what she said…

Two weeks ago, after an amazing Manifestation retreat in Ojai, I sent Jen an email expressing my frustrations about not being able to open my heart fully at the retreat–or in my everyday life. It revealed feelings I had never expressed, in words I had never written or spoken out loud. Jen posted it anonymously on her blog, asking the question “What Happens When You Admit Out Loud You Are Scared?”. It was my heart, raw, open and exposed.

So here’s what happens, if you’re me:

PANIC: Holy crap, what did I just do?!?! What is everyone going to think?

(Immediately after)

RELIEF: I don’t have to keep this all inside. I don’t have to be “strong”. I don’t have to be alone.

(Immediately after that)

SUPPORT. COMPASSION. EMPATHY. I am NOT alone.

LOVE.

LOVE.

LOVE.

The outpouring from strangers, from friends is almost overwhelming. People I have never met offering hope, insight, hugs, and love has humbled me. I could never have imagined the kindess of strangers would turn towards me in such a powerful way. It has, quite literally, changed my life.

The other thing I have learned from this experience? Not everyone understands. Some friends I have opened up to prefer fun Katie, who entertains with crazy stories, and doesn’t cry at dinner in the middle of a restaurant. Who are uncomfortable knowing that there is another layer buried beneath. And it’s sad. But then there are the friends who know to hug you while you are crying at dinner, admitting that you have problems with food and you still can’t even really say the words out loud, who make you feel like it just might be worth it.

This is just my first step. I have started blogging to try to work through some of these issues, but I have not yet shared my blog with many of my closest friends or any of my family members. I haven’t even been able to post a link to my Facebook yet. I’m working towards living more openly with everyone in my life. I will get there.

 So what happens when you admit out loud that you are scared? As one reader so astutely and eloquently offered “life softens”. And it has. Conversations have gone deeper, interactions are more thoughtful. Not having my guard up all the time has given my head the space to really listen, my heart the room to really love, and my soul the freedom to begin to heal.

Thank you. For encouragement, for acceptance, for advice, for love. I read every reply many, many times and have imprinted them on my brain and on my heart forever. I hope that I can someday impact someone else’s life the way each of you have impacted mine.

Please connect with Katie and follow her blog here.

And So It Is, Owning It!

Update Your Vision.

November 8, 2012

I’m sitting here at my desk and I stare at my Vision Board that’s pinned to the wall next to me, willing it to write for me. Come on, write my book, damnit! 

I distract myself from writing my book by putting what I think to be, but probably won’t be, my first paragraph on Facebook as a teaser. I can’t help myself, I am used to writing with such immediacy. Don’t we all live our lives like that now? I want a response now! 

I put the paragraph up and people go crazy “liking” it and commenting. They love it. My ego soars!

Here is said paragraph:

I had my nervous breakdown behind the restaurant. Where everyone went out to smoke once their tables had their food and seemed to be as happy as they would ever get during a meal. It was that little secret cove for smokers that I found salvage in, oddly enough. I leaned against that red brick wall and slowly slid down it onto dirty butts and that is where I had my nervous breakdown. My chest heaved and I started to drown in the cigarette butts. There were millions of them and they were smothering me with ash and nicotine and lipstick stains and bird shit that had been on the ground with them. There might have been bubble gum as well, but when you are drowning you don’t pay attention to anything except oxygen and that is what I couldn’t find anywhere. Somebody help me my brain told my mouth to say but my mouth was drowning and closed and nothing came out except the word Enough.

Except that one guy who proceeded to send me a private email about all the grammatical errors and how shocked he was that  would put it up like that. Naturally, I got a little hooked and defensive and told him that my amazing editor would handle it and that I had bigger fish to fry than worrying about their and there. The truth is, I let myself get insulted. It’s my fault. Why did I put it on Facebook?

What is this need for such immediacy? Such connection? Such validation? All the time. Relentless validation.

Do you like me? Do you like it? Do you like this? From strangers, no less. From people who feel the need to correct my grammar when I write a paragraph about having a nervous breakdown on a pile of dirty cigarette butts and bird shit.

But I digress.

I sit here and stare at my Vision Board which was made over a year ago. I stare at it because I have given up writing my book for the night and I decide to write a blog and one of the ways I think is by staring. When I stare I soar into the depths of my imagination. When I stare, I am not on Facebook or distracting myself in any other way. I am simply there or here, more aptly. Just staring into my mind and its abyss of possibilities.

So I see on my old vision board some things that I realize need clearing up.

One thing in particular: Yoga Journal Conference. Yea, that’s on there.

I do not want to be a part of the Yoga Journal Conference.

I might have one day in the past. Or maybe I didn’t. Maybe I thought that’s what is expected of yoga teachers?

I am getting more clear lately on who I am and what I want, and although I do teach yoga, it is not my dharma. There I said it.

Most of you know that.

I will keep doing it. I promise. It will be just a few classes a week, if that. It fuels me. It sources me. I love it through and through but it is not my goal. I am a writer. I am a communicator. I am a connector. Teaching yoga is one of the many ways I do that. But mostly, I kind of sneak yoga in as I do what I want to do. What I am saying is that I don’t hope to be on the cover of Yoga Journal or a star teacher at Yoga Works or known as the best yoga teacher in Bla Bla Town or the key speaker at The Yoga Journal Conference. I love that my friends are doing this but it is not for me!

If you are reading this, you are okay with all of this because you know me and follow me and have a deep understanding of who I am. Which I didn’t when I made this vision board last year. So as you sit here with me (metaphorically) I am tearing down the Yoga Journal Conference to make room for something else.

It ripped when I tore it off!

What about you?

What is no longer relevant? What doesn’t feel natural to you anymore?

What can you boldly admit? It’s pretty bold that I am admitting this. Yes, I am feeling vulnerable because I am in the process of writing a memoir. And that’s a good thing. Vulnerability is good. Just watch this.

There are some things I want to keep. Like this:

Do you see? It says: The smart though provoking absorbing engaging novels of New York Times Bestselling author Jennifer Pastiloff. I will leave that.

Not everything fades away. In fact, what is most true doesn’t.

What is most true always finds you no matter how long and far you try and run from it.

I.

Am.

A.

Writer.

My dear Jenni Young of SimpleReminders made this out of my vision board

 

 

 

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

Being Vulnerable.

October 16, 2012

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection. ~Brene Brown

I’ve been thinking a lot about being vulnerable.

The idea of it, the word, the sound of the word after I have said it so many times that it sounds wrong, like a not-real word word. The hard ‘V’ and then the falling of it all, just before it picks back up in a hopefulness that can only be described as relentless.

I went to a party last Saturday. A big fancy party that cost $500 a ticket. You know, the kind of parties I always  never frequent. It was a fundraiser for InsightLa. As described on their website: InsightLA is dedicated to bringing the deep joy and peace of mindfulness and compassion to people everywhere. Our commitment is to provide a warm, supportive learning environment, fostering mindfulness and compassion in all our relationships – with ourselves, with others and with our world.

Jack Kornfield was to speak and I had really wanted to attend, so when my client bought me a ticket as an early birthday gift, I was over the moon.

I went alone. ( He said my husband could come but would have to buy a ticket.)

That. Was. Not. Going. To. Happen.

Confession: I felt nervous. I rarely  never go to parties alone where I don’t know anyone.

I knew I had to go. Jack Kornfield was going to be speaking!

(Who is Jack Kornfield you ask?)

Maybe you don’t ask, but I I’d like to tell you who he is.

Jack Kornfield is one of the leading Buddhist teachers in America. A practitioner for over 40 years, he is one of the key teachers to introduce mindfulness and vipassana meditation to the West. 

So yes,  I went alone.

I walk in and my client’s home has been transformed into some fairytale palace with lights hanging everywhere and people with vague smiles milling about. People who look like they meditate. And countless servers running around with fancy trays of food (little Chinese take-out containers with soba noodles and chopsticks stuck on top and kale salad and delicate raviolis with spinach inside served with little bitty baby forks.) And very few people drinking wine. It was that kind of crowd.

Naturally I went to the bar and got a glass of Cab. (Or two.)

I sat down on a white ottoman on the grass and pretended to check emails on my phone, with my glass of wine in hand. Because, well because, I felt: self conscious.

I was alone. Just sitting there. Alone.

(Who cares? I hear you saying.)

Or maybe that is me saying that. Regardless, I was acting busy because I felt somehow stupid and exposed being there alone.

(Does thing ring a bell? Has anyone ever felt this way?)

Two gorgeous women looked like they were talking to me, or about me, (with my hearing loss I can never tell.) I smiled at them (pretending I could hear.) They mumbled something so I got up and went over (because I couldn’t hear said mumble.)

Ah! They were saying: We love your red jacket with the leopard print inside!

I proceed to tell them that I was there alone and felt awkward. They told me to sit with them.

And that was that.

We talked all night and I am having lunch with one of them next week.

Really strong, beautiful women too.

The point?

As I was sharing the story with my husband about how I made two new friends, I realized that I could have just thanked them for the compliment and sat back down. But I chose to be vulnerable and, because of that, I made a connection.

They got it. They’re human. They’d been there before. They recognized my fear or pain or whatever it was, and that was all it took for it to go away. For me to feel at ease.

Connection: It’s everything.

They knew what it felt like to be at a party and have no one to giving a knowing glance to, to go get a glass of wine for, to whisper Let’s go, I’m bored or This is better than I thought it would be.

I was telling my husband and I realized that a man alone at a party might not (probably wouldn’t) have gone to another man and said he felt like a dork for being alone.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe he would have.

All I know is that because I chose to be vulnerable and express myself, I met some amazing women who are exactly the type of women I want to be meeting. If I chose differently I might have had a good time still, but I wouldn’t have made the connection.

Look: parties are weird. And awkward. Especially when you go alone. At least for me.

I am okay with being vulnerable and admitting that “party fact”. That in fact, I hate parties. Period. Even when I do know people.

I wonder how many moments of our lives are missed because we buck it up or stuff it down or make it go away or pretend it ain’t so?

I don’t know. I do know that I am happy I made two new friends. I am proud of myself for going to a party alone (and leaving with two new friends) and for finally hearing Jack Kornfield speak.

I am tired of pretending.

It feels good to cop to stuff.

To admit I am human.

And a work-in-progress.

And a beautiful mess.

If you think that’s a cliche: come over.

No, really. Come over. Come see just how messy I really am. How imperfect and full of holes and papers I am. And how the piles of clothes and books and receipts keep climbing the walls of my house. It’s pretty incredible.

It’s my mess.

I am cleaning it up myself.

And when it gets to be too much I ask for help. That is also me being vulnerable.

The thing that’s true for me, and for you too, is that I have to do most of the work myself. You can’t do it for me (as much as I want you to. And I do. I do!)

At the fundraiser, a woman was imitating her Zen master/teacher, and he had said, when it came to doing the work, to meditating: No one can pee for you. You have to do it yourself.

So I guess what I am saying is this: Be authentic, be vulnerable, clean up your sh*t as best as you can on your own and pee for yourself because no one can do it for you but if you ask for help you may make some connections along the way. You will, however, still have to take a pee on your own.

Photo and poster by Jenni Young of SimpleReminders.com. Click to connect with them!

Yes, I am now a huge huge fan of Jack. Get to know him.

courage, Guest Posts

Guest post by James Vincent Knowles: On Courage.

February 16, 2012

This guest post is so real, so beautiful, so honest. Makes my heart ache a bit. Love you Jim and thank you……

James Vincent Knowles

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

COURAGE BY JAMES KNOWLES

*Benjamin Franklin said courage had something to do with owning one’s faults & having the resolution to mend them. If that’s true, then maybe I have a little bit.

It’s rather difficult to determine if one has courage. It’s easier to see courage in others.

I can, however, tell a story and let others be the judge.

I’ll begin with my faults.

Not the superficial ones. The character faults. The deep faults. The faults which have hobbled me all my life in one way or another:

Niceness. That’s a big fault. I looked “nice” up in the Oxford English Dictionary. Originally meant, “ignorant.” Uh, oh. Yep. We still use it that way if you ask me. I mean, what does THIS mean: he’s a nice guy / she’s a nice girl?

Gullible. Easy. Clueless. Not hip. Not dirty. Innocent. Unpretentious. (You get the idea.) Being nice can cause a lot of pain. It certainly has for me.

Helpful. That’s another big fault. I like to help people. No, that’s not completely honest. I LOVE helping people. Especially if i’m able to do so without attaching expectations. Without expecting reciprocation. Altruistic help. This one has plagued me all my life. It’s really a combination of being nice with the additional problem of boundary awareness. I help people then they ask for more then I do it then they ask for more then I do it and then what happens? I go past where I ought to have done & / or don’t set proper boundaries and then what? Little bits of expectations seep in. Little bits of resentment squeak through. And before you know it, helpfulness has turned ugly. That’s a real fault. It’s a hard thing to learn for a nice guy.

Procrastination. Ugh. Who doesn’t know about this one? Well, maybe Clark Kent & Cliff Michaels. Maybe Jennifer Pastiloff. (haha… kidding~! I know Clark Kent procrastinates~!). That’s about it. Rest of us procrastinate. Some more than others. Thing about procrastination though … something even my nice, helpful, lazy self has noticed, when we’re really happy, doing what we love, living our dream, we do not procrastinate. We tackle the big, dirty jobs straight up & straight away, all the while knowing the enjoyable stuff is there waiting for us when we’re finished. You know it’s true. So why do we not live that way all the time? But okay. First we need find that flow. That thing we LOVE so much it makes us want to take out the trash before that first cup of coffee / kale juice in the morning.

Talking. Oh boy. I love to talk. Particularly with people i like. People who’ve got time to talk AND listen. People who are interested & interesting. Mind you, i’m talking about conversation, discussion, sharing. Balanced, animated, open, real, honest, non-judgmental, fun talk without meanness. Measured and blended it can be an elixir made of nirvana. As intimate as the best sex you’ve ever enjoyed and as noisy. Yeah, talking is definitely one of my faults. But okay, I’ve become a pretty good listener along the way as well. Listening isn’t a fault though so I’m not listing it as one here.

Thinking. Bwuahahaha~! If one more person tells me I think too much I’m going to walk to Antarctica. Effffffffffffff me~! Now this one is a real problem. Then again, maybe I just need to be around people who appreciate thinking?

I used to not think as much & i wasn’t any happier.

In fact, without thinking, what would we be? Animals? Alien life forms? And how would one person be any different than another if we couldn’t think for ourselves? Also, if thinking is so bad, why are we always asking others what they think? Gotcha there.

But okay. I’m listing it as a “fault” because so many people tell me i think too much. I think I know what these people mean when they tell me that. What they mean is, I’ve not explained myself concisely enough to pique their curiosity or they mean that they don’t care enough to hear what I’ve got to say or they mean they simply don’t like the stuff i think about.

It’s all too much to think about.

Resolution to mend them.

I think that word “resolution” means “a decision to do or not do something.” Sometimes not so easy, is it?

Niceness. Well, okay. I’m a curious guy. And I can read. So when something bad happens as a result of my being too nice I educate myself. It’s hard to not be nice. But it doesn’t mean ya gotta be mean. That’s not a complete resolution. I’m still nice.

But now i’m kinder, gentler & more patient. & curiouser. But most importantly, nicer to myself. Learning to nurture my self. Now THAT takes a lot of courage~!

Helpful. Well, this one is easy to fix. Be MORE helpful but help myself first. Sounds a lot like that love thing.

You know that one, “love yourself first in order to know / have / receive / give love.”? Well, okay, I’m still working on that one as well.

Aren’t we all? I am beginning to see a pattern in all these as I write this.

Procrastination. This is that “just do it” thing, right? Crap. This one can be really hard if one isn’t sure what to do I’ll have to come back to this one.

Talking. I’m screwed on this one. I thought I resolved it by moving 200 miles from LA … alone. Of course I did this because I’d completely self-destructed. Or at least I thought I had. I’d blame it on someone else but what good would that do? Besides, it wouldn’t be self-destruction if it was someone else’s fault! I will say this … running across Jennifer’s blog just might have shut me up a bit. That is, it shut up some of the negative conversations I was having with myself. Which of course, made me think. For instance, about how some of the things … no, all of the things Jen posts tend to inspire, enlighten, encourage & heal. It certainly does these things for me! Interesting. I’ve never met Jennifer. I’m not a real yoga dude. I’m a total beginner. A procrastinating, lazy one at times. I find myself far from where I belong (Santa Monica). But I had to leave town. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Take that back. It was THE hardest thing i’ve ever done. Not the move. I’ve moved 37+ times in my life. It was leaving in total shame. Wrung out. So entirely twisted, crushed, hurt, embarrassed, and, well, let’s just say pretty much completely distraught, dazed & confused. The worst~! Oh wait. How does this resolve the fault of talking? haha… I am just using it as a device to talk about myself. 🙂

Thinking: I’m not quite ready to admit this is a fault. Guess I’m still in denial. Either that or maybe by thinking a lot I’ve come to the conclusion that if one thinks about the right stuff, thinking a lot is good.

So what does any of my crap have to do with courage? Not sure. This is what flowed forth from me today. I have faults. I’m willing to admit them. I’m willing to mend them. I admit I will need help along the way. But most of all, this is about shame & how it takes courage to look at it. To be vulnerable.

I left town in shame. Obliterated by shame. Almost dead from shame. Beyond comprehension shame. Little did I know I was yet to be shamed enough. There was tons more shame coming and it boy oh boy has ever been heaped upon me. Throughout all this I’ve continued learning, reading, thinking and talking. And okay, even praying & meditating. I procrastinated on everything but that which I believed mattered most … love, understanding & empathy. Love. Understanding. Empathy. And oh boy did I learn some stuff about niceness. And helpfulness. And procrastination. And talking. And thinking. Oh boy. Oh man. Oh boy.

I got vulnerable with myself. (I’m not sure one can do that but i have been doing it). Jen’s blog posts have helped me a LOT. Helped me see the authentic me. Jen’s blog & two real friends. One new one friend & one old friend. The new friend encouraged me to be myself. The old friend gave me a little tiny bit of empathy & understanding. Lifesavers, all. Jen’s blog has been incredibly inspiring. I say that a lot. I feel inspired by all the stories on you blog, Jen. So refreshing. Real. Like coming home or something.

So okay, I’ve been looking at myself deeply. I was feeling so worthless I wondered if I was alive. In fact, as I look around my space it looks as if a total loser lives here. But at least now I know that’s because this isn’t home. This is just a place to sleep and think. This is a place I can be totally vulnerable with myself, let myself see my self. Bardot. Die before you die. Tranquility. Calm mind. Quietude.

Screw the decorating.

Two years ago I owned a paparazzi photo agency. Yes, I know. That makes me a “bad guy”. 

8 months ago I quit. Sold everything I own, car, cameras, furniture. I also decided I’m an artist. Maybe a writer. I’ve since realized I am a dam nice guy. That I enjoy helping people. That I need to be connected to others, preferably people who have empathy. I need to connect and feel that sense of belonging we all need. To be around people, doing things which get my juices flowing. Be a part of something which gives me energy so that I don’t procrastinate. Connect with others who think, maybe even others who enjoy talking, nice people, helpful people, doing things that matter.

When I left LA I was screwed up. I’m telling you right now. But deep down I knew, despite the crap, the shame, and the embarrassment, it would be worth it. Letting go of everything. Leaving town. Being alone. I had zero idea of what might happen next. Still don’t. Although I am postulating & imagining & envisioning & praying & writing & thinking & every once in a while, I can even SEE and FEEL what i want my life to be like. All I know is I quit everything and even though much of what caused my shame & confusion & disconnection & pain was still happening, I have continued to think (and think with more clarity), continued to be nice, learn, grow (I hope), and talk about it, even if only with myself.

And yes, somewhere along this journey, this story line, a door opened. I ran into a person I’ve never met. The Universe connected me with Jen’s blog & all the beautiful, authentic, empathic, compassionate, real, joyful, encouraging people with whom she is connected. Vicariously through this blog I’ve been inspired and enriched.

I’ve allowed myself to be vulnerable, to be my self and i’ve found myself gaining strength and feeling human again. Healing, if you will. And for that I’m so grateful~! So is that courageous? Doesn’t really feel like it. It just feels real.

Namaste.*

Daily Manifestation Challenge

Courage. The DMC.

February 13, 2012

The theme of classes this week is Courage so I thought I would start this dreary Monday off with a Daily Manifestation Challenge about courage.

I have a temporary tattoo on my forearm that says COURAGE. It’s called a Manifestation Tattoo. Can you believe that?

( Serendipity, right?) They are made by a company called Conscious Ink.

Conscious Ink Manifestation tattoos. A company after my own heart!

I started thinking a lot about courage, about what it really meant after I watched Brene Brown’s TED talk on vulnerability. If you have not seen it, stop what you are doing and watch NOW.

Brene says “Courage, the original definition of courage, when it first came into the English language — it’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart — and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. And so these folks had, very simply, the courage to be imperfect. They had the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, because, as it turns out, we can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly. And the last was they had connection, and — this was the hard part — as a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should bein order to be who they were, which you have to absolutely do that for connection.”

There it is. The courage to be imperfect.

I was telling my class on Saturday just before I had them write for 3 minutes straight about courage, that I think people grossly underestimate themselves when it comes to courage. You do not have to jump from a plane with a parachute to be courageous.

I look at the people on my last retreat. One girl came all the way from Amsterdam, alone. All the way to Mexico with a group she didn’t know, having never done yoga in her life and leaving her children back home. That’s courage to me, in my little Jen Book Of Courage. And you know, she had the courage to be imperfect and ask for private help from me with the poses. She had the courage to sit out and watch at times. She had the courage to make new friends and be vulnerable. My sister had the courage to leave two kids at home (one who has special needs and a very strict regimen) and  take a week just for herself. Something she had never ever done in her life.

Today, she is signing up for a yoga teacher training in Atlanta after allowing herself that week retreat in Mexico, that was a gift just for her. She connected to what inspired her and renewed her sense of courage and came home ready to take on the world.

It took courage for me to admit my hearing loss. At first, I was mortified and felt less than a human being. I was afraid I would be alone in the world on an island of silence in a sea of noise.

I started to tell the story of who I was with my own heart and much to my delight, I ended up inspiring people and encouraging others to be vulnerable and open.

It took courage for me to talk openly about my history with a severe eating disorder. It also held me accountable.

It even took courage to start my Karaoke Yoga Classes. To get up there and sing badly and have no self consciousness so I could encourage them to do the same.

When my dad died I told myself not to cry. I held it in for years. I literally would bit my lip and say “Don’t cry. Be strong. Be courageous.”

I was 8.

Unfortunately I thought that was the courageous thing to do. To be brave like an adult and hold it in and move on and get on with my life. To not be affected and most certainly never ever be vulnerable. Especially not in front of other people. Gasp!

It took many years for me to develop the courage to show emotion in front of other people. I had a very hard time as an actor being vulnerable or crying because of all the years I spent stifling that part of me. It was like a piece had broken and the clock was missing a second hand, the doll had lost it’s head, the flower was without it’s color.

Once I finally opened up I realized that it was my courage and that very vulnerability which drew others to me, and get this, which allowed me to make money. The thing i had stifled and been ashamed of, was now my source of income and my bliss. Is it my bliss not being able to hear well? No way!

It is my bliss being able to share and talk and teach and take people on a journey where they can discover what courage means for them.

A woman came up to me Thursday after my Equinox class who told me she just signed up to go back to school so she could become a clinical psychologist. She is 60. That, Dear Manifesters, is what courage also looks like.

Doing something that society may have told you that you are too old for. Or too young for. Doing something because it is what you want to do rather than what anyone else asks of you. That is not to say we act purely from our own needs all the time with no consideration for others or our family. It is to say that we must do what we feel is our dharma, or what makes us come alive despite what may seem like a very valid excuse as not to do that very thing.

Here are some suggestions as to how you can comment below:

It took courage for me to __________ despite ____________.

I have the courage to say “I love __________.”

When ________ happened I found I had courage I didn’t know I had.

I have the courage to ask for help with ________________.

I have the courage to admit to myself that I really want ______________.

I have the courage to accept ___________________.

I have the courage to forgive _______________.

I have the courage to go after my dream of ___________.

Lions and Tiger and Bears. Oh My,

Jen

Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer based in Los Angeles. She is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Jen will be leading a Retreat in Costa Rica at the end of March (204) and her annual retreat to Tuscany is in July 2014. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing and for ALL levels. Read this post to understand what her retreats are like. Check out her site jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Jen and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. `

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