Browsing Tag


Guest Posts, Self Image, Self Love, Yoga

On Being Fat, Yoga Teacher Training, and the Right To Be Happy

May 22, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Anna Falkowski

In the back of Yoga Journal, lodged between ads for Himalayan salts and yoga retreats, was a photo of Ana Forrest, a yoga teacher famous in the yoga community. She was in handstand, naked from the waist up. The photo was a back view. Her muscled arms and opened hands pressed into rock ledge. Her bare legs stretched wide in a straddle and spread toes reached to an endless sky. A single black braid fell forward and touched the ground.

When I saw the photo, I felt a pang of longing. I too wanted a body that could do this. A body strong with each muscle defined. Even more, I wanted to be fearless and trusting.

In my head, I say, I have the right to be fat. I have the right to be fat.

I am a full-bodied yoga teacher. I take comfort in the fact there are others out there, luscious like me. In the yoga world, the majority of teachers are lean. On bad days, I look out at the students in the yoga class I am about to teach, and ask myself, Dont they see how fat I am? Why are they taking yoga from me?

Yoga is practiced primarily by women, yet it has strong patriarchal roots and leanings, which means holding up thinness as a measurement of yogic aptitude and success. It’s the order of things.
Sometimes I wonder if being a fat yoga teacher is silently scoffed at. A suspicion that he or she is not doing the work. We must be lazy or sneaking processed foods. Most likely both. Yoga tops can not contain us. We fill out our lycra pants with hips and asses, yet we teach respectable and popular classes despite the fact we’re not skinny.
There are days I love my curves. Each one a chunk of wondrous love and an expression of my sexiness, aliveness and my ability to get down and dirty with a cheeseburger and glass of wine.
As far as skinny goes, I have been down there, in the palace, once or twice in my life, but only because of diet pills, smoking, over-exercising or sticking my finger down my throat. I cut out my risky behavior once I became a mom. But my thin moments are full- color photographs in my memory catalogued between power and acceptance. The truth is I was only ever skinny for a few hours at a time, and then my weight would creep back up again.

Catching a glimpse of Ana Forrest in the back of the glossy trade magazine sent sparks through my nervous system, so I signed up to take her thirty day course, even though I already held advanced yoga teaching certifications. I craved change.

I sat with my therapist a few weeks before the training was to begin and told her I hoped to let go of my body image problems once and for all. Maybe this training would do it. And then I regressed. “If I just didn’t have this belly, I could be happy.” My mid-section had become a bundle of permanent stretch marks, scar tissue and loose skin due to all the times I gained and lost large amounts of fat.

“It’s so unfair.” I hated the way I sounded. Whiny and superficial. Even to me. Especially to me.
I would have preferred to be swallowed by the therapist’s soft couch. Instead I clutched a trendy printed pillow on my lap.

My therapist, a PhD, who never wore the same outfit twice, nodded her head in agreement. “Maybe this would be a good time to get the tummy tuck you keep mentioning. Just get it done and over with. Right after the training. Then you can move on.”

That’s how I ended up in the upscale office of a plastic surgeon, with a brand new visa card with a zero-balance and a $10,000 limit hidden in my wallet. My insides were whirling. The wall-to-ceiling mirrors reflected back a woman with a rounded belly in jeans and a red flowered top. My flip-flops were noisy as I made my way across the marble floor.

In my head, I say, I have the right to be skinny. I have the right to be skinny.

The plastic surgeon was a tall man with big teeth and a spring-time tan. He held a red permanent magic marker in his strong yet manicured hands and waved the marker around as he spoke. As he drew a dotted line along my belly, hips, and even across the top of my ass, to show me where he would remove the fat from, he told me the incision would be tiny.

“In a couple of months, once you heal, you will be able to wear a bikini. Of course how good you will look depends on whether you are a cadillac or a chevy. It all depends on what model you are underneath. I can only do so much.”

I looked down at my recently painted and pedicured toes the color of cruises and cotton candy. When I had gotten them done the day before, I hoped he would notice I appreciated details and pretty things. Now I felt my own foolishness slap my face.
“You are going to love the results,” he said as he put the cap back on the marker. He was giddy with himself. “All my clients do.”

Later that evening, sitting with my husband, I told him I thought the plastic surgeon was an ass. “But he does really good work, so I think I’m gonna go for it. After the training.” I looked at Matt for approval.

Then he said the thing my husband always says. “If you need to do this, I support you all the way. But Annie, I could care less what your belly looks like. Just make sure that whatever you do, you continue to have sex with me.”
He leaned over and kissed me while his hands groped under my shirt for my belly. “God, you’re hot.” he said.

Acutely aware of the red lines that would not wash off and delineated my muffin top, it took everything not to pull away from the man who loved me.

In my head, I say, Stay. Stay.

The first day of Ana Forrest’s yoga teacher training was as I suspected. I was the largest women in the room. It’s not that I’m obese, but I carry rolls and padding in a crowd that had nothing extra to spare. It was a significant difference. This did not stop me from walking past every single size-two yogi and plunking my yoga mat down right in front of the teacher. Ana Forrest looked directly at me. I made eye contact back. For the next 30 days I would put my mat down in the same exact spot and every day we would greet each other with our eyes. Continue Reading…

Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, Self Image, The Body, Women

On Being Naked.

February 17, 2015




By Christine Molloy.

I have always felt awkward in locker rooms. I mean, REALLY awkward. So much so that since I left high school, I have not changed my clothes in one. This is pretty impressive considering how many gym memberships I have had and that in the last several years of going to my current gym, I have been in the gym pool hundreds of times.

I had a strategy for these pool trips though. First of all, I live five minutes from my gym and yes, that is as awesome as it sounds. So I would towel dry off, throw some ratty clothes on over my suit, and head home. Maybe twice I went down to the locker room to use the toilet. Maybe.

In the dead of winter, when it was too cold to do that, I would switch to another form of exercise and just not deal with the locker room issue. However this winter is much different because I have been battling foot injuries in both my feet and on top of a nasty autoimmune illness, the pool is really the only good exercise I can get at the moment. And, I enjoy it. I especially enjoy the hot tub before and after!

The locker room at my gym was recently renovated and has two showers and three or four toilet stalls. There is a sauna, lockers, and benches. That’s it. Which means there are no changing rooms, unless you use the shower and it is rare for one of those to be open. And here is where we get to the root of my problem with locker rooms:

People will see me naked.

Hey, we all have our hang-ups.

There’s no changing room, no cubicles, not even a more secluded corner of the locker room to tuck away my less-than-perfect body into. Total exposure of a body that many times, I even have a difficult time looking at. One that has the dreaded apple shape, cellulite, and just stuff hanging everywhere. You know how women start to complain about how as they get older, their breasts begin the downward descent into hell and they miss their perky boob days? Yeah, not me. My boobs started at the place that most women dread going to.

I know, I know. I have had people tell me that the other people in the locker room are so focused on themselves that they are not even bothering to look over at me. They are all thinking about their kids or pre-planning their work day in their head. I think that is true for some, but I am not buying that explanation for everybody. People are curious. It is just human nature.

I have not always hated my body and even now, I don’t always look at it in a negative way. But I definitely need more balance and more positive self-talk. This body has seen me through some serious shit and on two different occasions, brought me back from the brink of death. This is the body that has survived cancer, round after round of prednisone and so many other toxic medications, a daily battle with an autoimmune illness, a heart procedure, blood clots in my lungs, and a neurological condition that almost paralyzed me. After going through these experiences, you have to garner some respect for the body that gets you through day after day; but I still criticize my body. I think that is probably the main reason why I do yoga; by doing poses, it helps me focus on not only my strength, but also on the life force inside of me. Yoga reminds me of what I am capable of and the good that my body can do.

But it does make me wonder, when exactly did this start for me? That feeling that my body wasn’t good enough? That I wasn’t good enough? I do know with absolute certainty that there was nothing in my childhood that made me feel ashamed of my body. According to my mom, as a toddler, it was hard for her to keep clothes ON me! And in my household growing up, being naked was not a big deal. We all walked naked from the bathroom to our rooms and back and once the teenage years came for me and my brother, the walking became a fast streak! And a T-shirt for me. As a kid, neither one of my parents every pressured me about losing weight and I was never told that I was ugly by either one of them. Even well into my adulthood, my dad has never mentioned one word about my weight or my eating habits, although on occasion he has tossed a positive compliment my way when a weight loss has been noticeable. Dad, you did well!

Continue Reading…

Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, Self Image, Self Love, Women

An Open Letter To All Companies Who Body Shame Women.

January 27, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Annie Sertich.

I’ve been so inspired by #thisgirlcan (an ad in Britain to get chicks active age 14-40).

So a few months ago, a bestie Mindy Sterling (actor from Austin Powers), and I were shopping at the Promenade in Santa Monica, California. We went into Joe’s jeans.

A sweet, cute, 20-something girl greeted us. We smiled back. Then after about 15 seconds she said to me, and only me… ’Just so you know we have more sizes in the back.’

“Huh?” I said.

“We have bigger sizes in the back.’ She sweetly said.

I laughed.

**And this is NOT a post fishing for anything other than I needed to share how bummed this made me for women/girls eating gum for dinner. Plus really Joe’s? LAME.

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.

Continue Reading…

Anonymous, Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts

The Turning Point.

January 24, 2015


By Anonymous.

I’ll never forget the first time someone called me “little” during my teenage years. It was my sophomore year of high school, during our One Act Play festival. I had just won an award for best director and my opponent’s mother fondly referred to me as “that little Erin girl”. She did not say this to my face, of course. But my mother informed me that she’d overheard it. When my mother repeated it, she said it with a hint of bitterness. But I romanticized the idea, the thought that I was this tiny force to be reckoned with, a warrior in bows and ballet flats.

Shortly after this, I developed my eating disorder. Since my reputation as tiny was solidified, my obsession with keeping it began. I shed invisible tears over the size of my stomach, the slowly growing pile of white that barely puckered over my jeans. “You’re tiny.” I’d tell myself this as I ate increasingly smaller portions, to the point where I sometimes ate nothing at all.

My boyfriend called me little too. “You’re so tiny,” he’d tell me, wrapping his hand around my wrist to illustrate his point. I confided in him that I thought I might have an eating disordeI confided in him that I thought I might have an eating disorder while on the phone with him one night during my freshman year of college.

“I’ll tell your parents if it gets bad,” he said. I wondered what bad had to be, if the ritual of purposely not eating for days whenever I got stressed didn’t apply.

When that boyfriend walked out of my life, I told myself that I’d stop starving myself. If ever there were a trigger to that habit, this was it. But, not again, I promised myself. The boy who gave up on me was not worth it.

Flash forward to a few weeks later, post-breakup. I’ve left to study abroad in the Netherlands. I’m living in a castle and making fast friends. And yet, the self-loathing that I’ve struggled with since high school sets it, tainting everything around me. All I can see is the stick legs and thigh gaps of other girls.

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.

Continue Reading…

Eating Disorders/Healing, Eating/Food, Guest Posts, Self Image, Truth

The Skinny on Mary.

January 3, 2015


By Teri Carter.

Mary is skinny. Mary has a trick. Mary shows up late for lunch, which means she has no time to order or no time to eat. Both work. Mary’s just turned 50 and she is always talking food: You would not believe what I stuffed in my face at that barbecue! Your bag of Cool Ranch Doritos is in danger. I’m ordering a cheeseburger and fries! But Mary, who owns an investment firm, is an expert at moving her food around a round plate and she always gets a to-go box for her barely-touched burger and fries. Can’t wait to pound this down at midnight. She thinks we believe her, so we pretend we do. We all have our tricks.

In an August 2012 article for Forbes, Lisa Quast quotes a research study: 45 to 61 percent of top male CEOs are overweight, compared to only 5 to 22 percent of top female CEOs. Then, in her closing paragraph, Ms. Quast goes inexplicably blasé: “As for me, I’m off to the gym with my husband for weight training and a two mile run. Then I’ll probably have a veggie salad for dinner so I can keep my body mass index at the low end of the normal range. As these studies demonstrate, thin is in for executive women – although I’d prefer to think if it as ‘healthy’ being in.” Her ending leaves me cold. I go back to the beginning.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts

To Be Made Whole.

November 5, 2014


By Melissa Chadburn.

My weight fluctuates a lot— I’d say I gain and lose between 20 and 30 lbs. every year. I think there is a story my body is trying to tell. I think perhaps my body is storing too much pain at times.

The things that weigh on me:

The time I wanted back in with my foster family— so I met my foster parents at their job at the ad agency and gave them a presentation on why they should let me come back. The presentation was complete with ways I would financially contribute to the household, and ways that I would be good, and how no one would hardly notice me.

I only ever hit my mother once. It was a reflex. She was in a wild angered frenzy and threw a T-shirt at me. It had my favorite Superman button on it. A metal button the size of a cheeseburger. Somehow the weight of it landed on my nose and I bled. The shock of it all— my crying the blood, she ran to me, full of remorse. The second she was close I socked her in the stomach. Her face, the face she showed me, is the one that haunts me. My face and her face are so similar that the punishment is simple, it’s the look I give myself when I think no one likes me or that I’ve done wrong. Continue Reading…

Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, healing

I Don’t Want To Be Skinny Anymore.

July 13, 2014

I Don’t Want To Be Skinny Anymore. By Amanda Broomell.

I want to be skinny. I want to walk into Lululemon and know that every see-through pant will slip onto my milky white skin like butter, without the fat. No more doughy rolls hanging over my gym shorts. No more bulging FUPA stuffed like a petrified fried egg inside my pinstriped work pants. I want to be the woman brazenly bearing her T&A in the Equinox women’s locker room. The sweaty hot chick getting stretched out on the sticky mats while beefcake dudes drool as they pass by. The skinniest chick in the room.

I know they tell you that being skinny doesn’t change anything. But I dream it does. And the dream is what I desperately cling to. Even as I write this, I’m fantasizing about all the squats I’m gonna do later to get J.Lo’s butt (let’s be real, there are not enough squats in the world to give me J.Lo’s butt).


Except I don’t.

I don’t know how to BE skinny. It feels foreign, empty, unsustainable. Frankly, it’s just not me.

In 5th grade, I was over 90 pounds when everyone else was 70. I had a period and boobs when everyone else had cardboard chests. I grew up around a neighborhood of boys who called me fat on the daily. At school, I was entered into a “hotness” competition against Cindy Crawford as a joke. In 9th grade, a guy who actually had a CRUSH on me said I was built like a football player. You can imagine what that does to a young lady’s self esteem. (These days, the deciding factor in choosing a mate is whether I could break him or not.)

On top of that, from roughly age 8 to 10, I was sexually, mentally and emotionally abused by a boy who was my age, which was eternally scarring and confusing. He regularly demanded to look at and feel my boobs – and threatened to burn down my house or tell the school I was a slut if I didn’t comply – but he also thought I was an ugly fat lard. How does one make sense of that dichotomy.

After suffering through those traumatic elementary years, I was determined to join the legion of skinny girls as the elixir for my deepest wounds. I imagined a life of glamour, adoring boyfriends, and victorious Cindy Crawford competitions. And miraculously, I achieved what I considered “skinny” during 5 periods over the next 20 years, though each of those moments was abruptly followed by a disappointing journey back to FATLAND.

My first success was the summer before college during which I worked at a local classy movie theater and basically subsisted on chocolate malt balls and warm, mustard-dipped pretzel bites. Then the next year all my hair fell out. But, damn, was I a skinny bitch.

Next was my gain of the dreaded freshman 15, which was really more like the freshman 30. I accomplished this gain by eating 2 pints of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream every evening before bed, and every morning, the freshly-baked chocolate chip bread that my very sweet, Jersey-bred roommate would make for me. But after I graduated college, I started working about 80 hours a week at this sports bar in Brooklyn and was now subsisting on bread sticks, martinis and oxycontin. No room for food! Again, skinny bitch in effect (emphasis on the bitch).

Fast-forward a few years, I gained all the weight back, and also a little dignity, after discovering the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in 2005. I began to get my life on track. I stopped with the pills and excessive drinking, and began eating according to what my body wanted. At first, all it wanted was chocolate and wine and bread. But eventually I realized those were mixed messages being sent to my brain, the result of an emotional desolation that I’ve spent the last 33 years attempting to fill up. I started eating incredibly well and naturally lost weight. Somehow, though, I couldn’t keep it up. Eventually I got back up about 20 pounds and was right were I started. W.T.F.

Attending Columbia’s MFA Acting Program in 2006, I pretty much had no time to eat. We were in class and/or rehearsals for about 16 hours a day for 3 years straight, and the summers were spent either working at low-paying temp jobs, doing non-paid downtown theater in tiny, sweatshop-like blackboxes, or traveling to Europe with money I didn’t have (thank you to all the big banks for your irresponsibly generous lending policies, and, to myself, for the bliss of ignorance and naiveté.) Plus, Showcase (where you do a “pretty” parade around a stage for a bunch of agents and casting directors) was always on the horizon, and you HAD to be skinny for that. So, I hired a personal trainer and ate grass for about 6 months before it happened. And it worked. I got super skinny. But it didn’t do any good. I didn’t get an agent and then that sent me into a super tailspin. On top of that, I endured an endlessly painful breakup with my boyfriend (they tell you not to date people in your class for a REASON), so I went back to my old Chunky Monkey ways. No one wanted me anyway, so what was the point of looking good?

THEN, about three years after all of the post-apocalyptic grad school drama died down, I entered a bit of a health Renaissance. I started seeing a chiropractor and an acupuncturist (along with a psychic or two) and had the strong desire to take better care of myself. It was during this period I discovered I was gluten sensitive and decided to give up all gluten products. Well, let me tell you, I lost weight as quickly as a cop stops for donuts. I felt amazing, looked amazing and thought – THIS IS IT. I’ve made it! I’m finally skinny…for life! This was a lifestyle change, not a diet, so there’s no way I could go back to before.

WRONG. After two depressing breakups in 2013, I was cheating and eating Umami burgers WITH the brioche bun and a side (or two) of fried smushed potatoes. I was drinking bottles of wine, eating tons of fries and dessert (even though I tried to justify it by mostly eating gluten-free treats, they were still processed and full of fat), and suddenly, none of my size 4 work pants (that I was SO PROUD to have purchased since that was the smallest size I’d ever owned) fit anymore. How did this HAPPEN? I was so disappointed in and disgusted with myself. I messed up a year and a half of seriously hard work. What is my major malfunction?

In the scheme of it all, I was, at most, only ever 30 or 40 lbs over my skinny weight, so what’s the big deal? Others struggle with far worse than that. But it FELT whale-like. And also weirdly comforting. I felt protected. I had an excuse why I didn’t book an audition or get hit on at the ridiculous hipster bar. I could just hide and no one could see the dark recesses of my wounded self but me. I could hate myself in the peace and quiet of my own fat-insulated home.

The subconscious logic makes total sense: If I never get skinny, I don’t have to worry about getting fat again. And if I’m fat, no one will really notice me. They’ll just have pity or disgust, but they won’t ever see the deeper flaws. The irreversible, unlovable, ugly, scary flaws. The she-who-shall-not-be-named that lives within me. Fat is my invisibility cloak. It’s the only way I know how to be.

Fat = safe. Skinny = love. Love = fucking terrifying. Because once I’m skinny, I will be desired. I will be looked at and wanted. I will be seen, and the shame and disgust I feel will be broadcast to the world. There will be no hideaway. I will no longer be comfortably invisible. As much as I loathe myself as a fat person, I am horribly fearful of being a skinny person. Then there will be nothing between me and the broken girl beneath. I will be faced with confronting my true self, and that is the scariest truth of all.

As I write these words, I realize I’ve entered period 6 – I’m on the road to skinny! But this time, it feels different. I don’t have the same desire to eat until I burst. I DO, however, sometimes feel like there’s a Satanic voice in my head questioning whether I can sustain this for a lifetime or if the minute I get my heart broken or I don’t book that short film everything will just fall apart and I’ll gain all the weight back again and be a big fat blob that no one will ever have sex with ever again. SHUT YOUR TRAP, SATAN!

Bottom line is: I don’t want to be skinny anymore.

I want to feel good.

What would I have to give up to feel good, ALL the time? Basically my entire identity as I know it. Peel off my skin like the label on a wine bottle – have you ever tried to do this?!?!? It’s basically impossible.

So what’s the solution? Honestly, I have no flipping idea. All I can do – have been doing – is wake up every morning and make a decision about how I want to feel. I’d say 90% of the time, the answer is “good.” There’s still 10% of the time I feel like stuffing my face with 500 buttercream cupcakes. But compared to 10 years ago, that seems like playing a delicious, calorie-free game of Candyland. Everyday, I try to be grateful for what I have in this moment. I try to eat things that will make me feel good in this moment, in a nourishing way rather than an instant gratification way. I’m focusing on a new goal: I don’t ever want to be “skinny.” I just want to be a better version of myself today than I was yesterday. Become the kind of person I’d want to hang out with. FUPA and all.

Here’s my new mantra, inspired by the inimitable Jennifer Pastiloff:

Love yourself now, Amanda, because in 10 years you will marvel at how beautiful you once were. Savor it. NOW. You’ll wish you did.

Amanda Broomell is an East Coast girl with a West Coast heart – she grew up in Southern Jersey but always knew she was meant for Southern California. It’s only been a year, but she’s madly in love with this place. As an actor, holistic health counselor and marketer, it’s the perfect place to be. More at, (coming soon) and @RealUrbnWellnss on Twitter and Instagram.

Jennifer Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Salon, and more. Jen leads her signature Manifestation Retreats & Workshops all over the world. The next retreat is to Ojai, Calif over Labor Day. Check out for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up: SeattleLondon, Atlanta, South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Tucson & The Berkshires (guest speaker Canyon Ranch.) She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.

Next Manifestation workshop is Seattle July 26. Book here. Followed by Atlanta Aug 9.

Inspiration, loss

Whatever Makes You Happy and an Obituary.

March 14, 2013

I’m a bag lady. I’m a stuff person. You know, the kind that always has the big bag and the hands buried in the big bag looking for something or other. The kind that always has an indentation in their shoulder where the big bag (that is far too heavy as far as bags are concerned) digs into the shoulder. The kind that always leaves a trail and is always knocking something over because there’s so much stuff around them. The kind that people are always saying Sheesh! You have so much stuff.

When I worked at the restaurant, the guys in the kitchen used to put things in my bag. Melons and cast iron skillets and bottles of hot sauce. I wouldn’t realize until I got home because my bag was already so heavy and filled with unnecessary things like shoes and bottles and hardcover books. Sometimes I’d be happy because hey I needed a cast iron skillet but mostly I felt embarrassed that I hadn’t noticed. That I walked around with so much that I didn’t notice when someone added their own stuff to my life.

That’s how it is though, isn’t it? When you have a lot of crap it takes a while to notice that more is being added, however slowly. When your life is fairly crap-free (nobody has a crap free life but for the sake of this essay let’s pretend there are people who exist in the world that have less crap-free lives) you notice fairly quickly when something doesn’t belong to you? Hey, this cast iron skillet? Not mine. This guilt? Not mine. This hot sauce? Not mine (but I’ll keep it.) This shame? Not mine. This drama? Not mine

It’s hard to not realize you have the cast iron skillet before it’s too late. Once you get all the way home with it you might as well keep it right because, let’s face it, it’s kind of embarrassing to come back with it explaining that you didn’t steal it, that someone stuffed it in your big bag and you just didn’t notice. Or maybe it’s not embarrassing and you just want to keep the cast iron skillet because you think you should have one. Maybe you think you deserve one. That’s what we do right? I know it isn’t mine to take on but I’ll keep it because I probably deserve it.

Life is like that. The things we take. The things handed to us that we walk around with as they dig into our shoulder and cause us pain and yet we say No, I’m fine. I got this. I can carry it all. It’s mine.

As for me, I carry around a lot of stuff because it makes me feel at home. Chaos is comfortable for me. I like mess. I’m a klutz and mess suits me! It’s just the way I am.

That’s a lie. I don’t know why I lug so much junk around except that it’s been the way I’ve lived for as long as I can remember. My mother is very organized and neat now (how!?) but when I was little I remember her sticking dirty dishes in the oven to hide them or putting them in a black trash bag out in the yard because she was very depressed. I am going to hold onto to my shit and the dirt and the gunk! It’s like it ran in my family.

I think sometimes that if I carry it all around for everyone to see I will be safe from having to change or move forward. I think if I carry it around I won’t forget. There’s so much I have forgotten. (What did I eat last night? What was the book about I just read? What did Ronan’s nose look like? What did my father’s voice sound like?)

If I carry it all around with me I will forget nothing. At any given moment I can reach for what I need. You think I’m talking in metaphors, I know. I am but I’m also talking in everythings. It’s everything. The shit turns into the shit. The shit on your shoulder turns into the shit on your heart and it hardens and then you can’t scrape it off.

Me telling the truth: I don’t want to scrape it off. I want to remember. I will carry it around forever so I never forget. In a big red bag, I will schlep everything around.

Today I saw an obituary online for a man I never met and it made me all at once miss him (?) and miss my father.

Harry Weathersby Stamps

December 19, 1932 — March 9, 2013 

Long Beach

Harry Weathersby Stamps, ladies’ man, foodie, natty dresser, and accomplished traveler, died on Saturday, March 9, 2013.

Harry was locally sourcing his food years before chefs in California starting using cilantro and arugula (both of which he hated). For his signature bacon and tomato sandwich, he procured 100% all white Bunny Bread from Georgia, Blue Plate mayonnaise from New Orleans, Sauer’s black pepper from Virginia, home grown tomatoes from outside Oxford, and Tennessee’s Benton bacon from his bacon-of-the-month subscription. As a point of pride, he purported to remember every meal he had eaten in his 80 years of life.

The women in his life were numerous. He particularly fancied smart women. He loved his mom Wilma Hartzog (deceased), who with the help of her sisters and cousins in New Hebron reared Harry after his father Walter’s death when Harry was 12. He worshipped his older sister Lynn Stamps Garner (deceased), a character in her own right, and her daughter Lynda Lightsey of Hattiesburg. He married his main squeeze Ann Moore, a home economics teacher, almost 50 years ago, with whom they had two girls Amanda Lewis of Dallas, and Alison of Starkville. He taught them to fish, to select a quality hammer, to love nature, and to just be thankful. He took great pride in stocking their tool boxes. One of his regrets was not seeing his girl, Hillary Clinton, elected President.

He had a life-long love affair with deviled eggs, Lane cakes, boiled peanuts, Vienna [Vi-e-na] sausages on saltines, his homemade canned fig preserves, pork chops, turnip greens, and buttermilk served in martini glasses garnished with cornbread.

He excelled at growing camellias, rebuilding houses after hurricanes, rocking, eradicating mole crickets from his front yard, composting pine needles, living within his means, outsmarting squirrels, never losing a game of competitive sickness, and reading any history book he could get his hands on. He loved to use his oversized “old man” remote control, which thankfully survived Hurricane Katrina, to flip between watching The Barefoot Contessa and anything on The History Channel. He took extreme pride in his two grandchildren Harper Lewis (8) and William Stamps Lewis (6) of Dallas for whom he would crow like a rooster on their phone calls. As a former government and sociology professor for Gulf Coast Community College, Harry was thoroughly interested in politics and religion and enjoyed watching politicians act like preachers and preachers act like politicians. He was fond of saying a phrase he coined “I am not running for political office or trying to get married” when he was “speaking the truth.” He also took pride in his service during the Korean conflict, serving the rank of corporal–just like Napolean, as he would say.

Harry took fashion cues from no one. His signature every day look was all his: a plain pocketed T-shirt designed by the fashion house Fruit of the Loom, his black-label elastic waist shorts worn above the navel and sold exclusively at the Sam’s on Highway 49, and a pair of old school Wallabees (who can even remember where he got those?) that were always paired with a grass-stained MSU baseball cap. 

Harry traveled extensively. He only stayed in the finest quality AAA-rated campgrounds, his favorite being Indian Creek outside Cherokee, North Carolina. He always spent the extra money to upgrade to a creek view for his tent. Many years later he purchased a used pop-up camper for his family to travel in style, which spoiled his daughters for life.

He despised phonies, his 1969 Volvo (which he also loved), know-it-all Yankees, Southerners who used the words “veranda” and “porte cochere” to put on airs, eating grape leaves, Law and Order (all franchises), cats, and Martha Stewart. In reverse order. He particularly hated Day Light Saving Time, which he referred to as The Devil’s Time. It is not lost on his family that he died the very day that he would have had to spring his clock forward. This can only be viewed as his final protest. 

Because of his irrational fear that his family would throw him a golf-themed funeral despite his hatred for the sport, his family will hold a private, family only service free of any type of “theme.” Visitation will be held at Bradford-O’Keefe Funeral Home, 15th Street, Gulfport on Monday, March 11, 2013 from 6-8 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you make a donation to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (Jeff Davis Campus) for their library. Harry retired as Dean there and was very proud of his friends and the faculty. He taught thousands and thousands of Mississippians during his life. The family would also like to thank the Gulfport Railroad Center dialysis staff who took great care of him and his caretaker Jameka Stribling.

Finally, the family asks that in honor of Harry that you write your Congressman and ask for the repeal of Day Light Saving Time. Harry wanted everyone to get back on the Lord’s Time.

I didn’t go to my father’s funeral as I have written about in earlier essays. My sister and I weren’t allowed. It’s a decision my mother was coerced into by some “loving” friend or relative who knew better than she did in her 34 year old grief stricken body (!)

I carry that decision around with me in my godforsaken big red bag on my shoulder. I carry that not being able to go to my father’s funeral on my right shoulder and rarely do I put it down.

So I see this obituary written by a loving daughter and I get kind of mad because I wanted to write one for my dad. But that’s not why I am really mad if I tell the truth and as you know I am committed to ABTTT (Always be telling the truth.)

I am mad because I wanted him to live until 80 like this man in the paper did so I could say funny and endearing things about him that I stashed away and carried in a big red bag for my whole life. I only have 8 years of things I carry around, dammit.

I am going to do one anyway, since I never got the chance and all. Maybe I can put it down after this? Maybe I will unload a bit. (I doubt it. I want to keep this one and keep carrying it around.)

Melvin David Pastiloff April 27th 1945-July 15th 1983.

Melvin Pastiloff, known lovingly as Mel The Jew on the street corner of 6th and Wharton in South Philly where he hung out with Johnny Boy and Sticks, died on a humid night 30 years ago. He was survived by his wife Barbara, who at one point he loved very much, but at the time of his death, had thrown a shoe at and they were planning to divorce. He was also survived by his two little girls Rachel, 5, and Jennifer, 8. 

He was known to be a the funniest man in the world. Or at least in Philadelphia and the tri-state area. He loved a good practical joke such as the one time he smeared chunky peanut butter all over the toilet seat when company was over and called everyone into the bathroom to say “Looks like Jennifer, smells like Jennifer, tastes like Jennifer.” Jennifer was a baby then and this story was relayed by said company. He was also known to moon at any public event. He would put his ass in any window to liven up any party.

He loved one particular pair of cut off (ugly) jean shorts that he changed into almost nightly after his day at the job selling fancy men’s suits. He smoked 4 (!) packs of menthol cigarettes a day (wouldn’t touch a Marlboro. He was a KOOL man) and he took his coffee with cream served to him in bed (a tradition carried on from his mother).

He didn’t know how to blow-dry his longish hair or shave so that was one thing that would have been sucky about divorcing but he died so that never happened but just to give you an idea of who he was in the mornings, it’ll get left in here. He drove a brown Cutlass and once hit a homeless man who did more damage to the car than the car to the man (!)

He had a laugh like a sheep and loved the t.v. show M*A*S*H. He liked flounder and waffles with chocolate ice cream and was known for always asking for Jello for dessert after a big Italian holiday meal. He didn’t know where the glasses were kept in the kitchen. He sang You Are My Sunshine every night to his daughters. Sometimes Jennifer first, sometimes Rachel. He had a bad singing voice but a lovely singing voice.

He served in the army and almost went to Vietnam but came home because his father was dying of cancer. He had a bald spot on the top of his head and it was always sunburned. He looked young and old at the same time. 

He had a bad back but would sit in the yard and carve sticks for his daughters anyway. Sometimes he would fart and blame it on his daughters thinking it was funny. (It was funny.)

His one regret was that he wanted to be a stand-up comedian and he wanted to meet his grand-kids. He loved hockey and made his daughter Jennifer memorize every team from every city (in the U.S.) He also loved boxing and Sugar Ray Leonard. He smelled like leather. He loved his mother (and her brisket) like a good Jewish son and sadly he had to put in a nursing home just before he died on July 15, 1983.

He was a sonofabitch for dying when he did and pretty much everyone that knew him agrees on that and that they love and miss him still all these years (!) later. 

I carry it all around from room to room because if I put it down I might forget.

I will keep carrying my father’s memory. After all, the sonofabitch went and died at 38 so I got very very little, but I will carry it with me always.

I am getting tired though. You would too if you had as much shit on your shoulder as me. (Maybe you do?) I will no longer carry what doesn’t belong to me. Frying pans and someone else’s agony? No more. I looked into the backseat of my car tonight and saw the piles of papers and yoga mats and shoes and straps and wrappers and bottles and I thought Why are you carrying this around like you are afraid if you let it go it will leave you with nothing?

I have all I need. So do you.

Take an assessment of what is on your back and in your car and in your heart and imagine what it would be like to be free of it. Look, if I imagine myself free of my dad’s memory I want to vomit. So thank you very much but I will keep that one. The rest though? The guilt and the drama that doesn’t belong to me or that once belonged to me? Goodbye. I am putting you back with the cast iron skillet and melons that aren’t mine.

What? You think as you get older the weight gets lighter? It doesn’t. It gets heavier and heavier until you are buried in a pile of it and you can’t even reach to the front door to get the pizza from the delivery guy and he’s just out there waiting like it was a prank.

Put it down. Let it go. You don’t need what isn’t yours. You don’t need what you think you need. You don’t need a big bag there on your arm and a houseful of boxes.

What do you need?

Here’s a list I made for you.








Wine (!)



Whatever makes you happy.

Whatever makes you happy.

Whatever makes you happy.

I wanted to write it three times for emphasis.

That was the point of the whole essay, it just took me a while to get to it. Go write this somewhere: What makes me happy. Write them down. Carry them if you want. Keep looking for those things.


Beating Fear with a Stick, Eating Disorders/Healing, healing

Bitch Slap It.

March 4, 2013

Dear Jen, I am coming to you for some major support right now. I know it may seem really unimportant and lame, but it’s weighing on me right now. When I had my first weird symptom in the summer I gained 10 lbs. They say I am retaining fluid. As of this week I gained another 10lbs. I got on the scale this morning and it read 150. Just a number I know, but full blown panic has set in. I was 129 lbs this time last year. So many things come up for me. I can’t stand my body. I don’t want to be seen or wear clothes. I feel right now like I AM MY BODY. I feel ashamed that I teach yoga and I am this big. I feel sad that I can’t lose weight and be the way outside that I feel on the inside. I know this conversation feels so dumb. Our friend’s baby just died, my son has PWS, a man just got swallowed up in a sinkhole in Florida, and yet I can’t stand the sight of myself. That is sad. How do I get past this? I am soul searching. I am reading books, writing, doing all the spiritual journey I can find. How can I learn to love myself at any weight? I feel ashamed right now, of my body and how I feel about myself. I have never shared this with but a few people before. I truly need support right now. I am on a journey to be a spiritual being and I AM STUCK! I need your help. xo, Stuck.

Unimportant and lame. That’s what you think you know and what we think we know is usually miniscule compared to what we really don’t know at all. Compared to what we actually know, what we don’t know is a towering lion.

What you don’t know is more important.

You think you know that this feeling of being ashamed is a petty and silly, possibly even irrelevant. That compared to some of the troubles in the world (so many troubles! So much sadness and death and dying and potholes!) that this, this stupid little thing isn’t even worth a thought. You can’t quantify sadness or grief or upset. You can’t say this is worse just because it is a more obvious “worse.” Although we try and do that all the time. I should be more grateful because the guy who lives next door to me is in a wheelchair. Comparing our problems or lack of problems and making ourselves wrong for feeling what we are feeling is a recipe for misery.

How do I know? I spent many years of my life telling myself I had no reason to be depressed and yet there I was at three in the afternoon, laying in my bed with the covers over my head and an ugly pair of pajama bottoms on. What you don’t know is this: you are not stuck.

A stuck thing couldn’t write this email asking for help. What you don’t know is this: your sharing this will help more people than you will probably be able to process because guess how many of us feel this way? A lot. I don’t know the exact number but it is a lot.

I have some questions for you though. You say you want to be the way outside that you feel on the inside? How do you feel on the inside? It seems to me, based on this email that you feel sort of shitty on the inside so the first thing is ABTTT. As I said in my essay yesterday, Always Be Telling The Truth. I think perhaps the real issue is on the inside not the outside.

I get it, I do. I have struggled with severe anorexia and body dysmorphia and all the rest. I still do at times. I sit writing and feel my belly hanging over my waistline and think how do I call myself a yogi, let alone a yoga teacher? I am a fraud. I am a fatass. Then I start writing and I get out of my own way. When I actually get up and away from the compter and do my own yoga practice or walk or whatever it may be, I feel even better. Even though my belly/waistline ratio is exactly the same, I somehow feel lighter and more grounded. I believe it’s called endorphins. We need them and as much as I prefer sitting (gasp!) and writing or reading, I must get off my ass and move. Not for any reason except that it keeps me feeling what I want to be feeling on the inside. And that is alive.

The other thing? It does matter. How we look often indicates how we feel and how we feel is important even though life often tries to tell us differently. By life I mean our family, peers, Facebook.

The catch is this: most of the time we can’t see ourselves clearly. We think we look fat or ugly or bad or this or that, and again, I must point out two things. One, what you don’t know (or can’t see) is greater than what you know, and two, ABTTT. Always be tellin’ the truth.

Are you telling the truth to yourself? Oftentimes we don’t want to admit that we look good or feel good because that would be admitting our happiness and we don’t deserve to be happy, do we?

Can I get a Hell Yes? Hell yes, you deserve to be happy.

We all do.

A few more things I’d like to point out since you asked. Can you give yourself some time away from the scale? I have written a lot about the fact that I can’t get on the scale still. That’s my own personal demon that I intend to face but what I am wondering is how much getting on the scale and seeing the numbers keeps you feeling stuck? I am not suggesting to live in denial but rather to give yourself some space from it so you can appreciate how you look without getting made wrong by some awful numbers.

How do I get past this? Listen, you don’t get past this. You are in it. You may be in it for the rest of your life. Who knows? I know it still comes up for me more than I care to admit. You have to learn how to be with it and waltz with it and eventually how to own it. It’s owning you now. It has your attention and your focus and you can’t really get anything done until you come to terms with the fact that you are letting this dominate your life. Why are you letting this dominate your life? I have no idea but I know why I let it dominate my life. I literally spent at least 15 years being bitch slapped by an eating disorder and self hatred until I took it by the balls and said I own you bitch.

You absolutely have to get crass with it and tell it who is who. You think you know. What you don’t know is this: it will listen to you eventually. You must do the work though.

It sounds like you are with your writing and reading and asking for help. You just have to tell it who’s boss. You have to admit you don’t know what you don’t know and start from there. You have to admit that you deserve to be happy. (We all do!) You have to ABTTT.

And then you have to do what may be the easiest or hardest part depending on your personality. Exercise, stay away from the scale, get out of your own head (bad bad neighborhood) and my own personal favorite, stop looking in the mirror so much. You may not do that but I do and it’s like falling down the rabbit hole and landing in a shitstorm of disapproval.

Asking for help is just about the best thing any of us can do. Most people don’t know this secret (so please pass it on if you would). What we think we know is usually miniscule compared to what we really don’t know at all and what we don’t know is how the world will open up and show us that we are held.

So when you say I am on a journey to be a spiritual being and I AM STUCK! I need your help I’d like to point out that the help has been granted. It’s right here. And here. And there.

Oh, and one more thing, you are already a spiritual being. You may have just forgotten. It happens to the best of us. You made it. You’ve arrived.


Guest Posts, healing, Wayne Dyer

Tapestry. Guest Post by Sommer Wayne Dyer.

October 18, 2012

The following guest post is by my good friend Sommer Wayne Dyer, daughter of my beloved teacher Wayne Dyer. I am honored that Sommer will be assiting me in Maui for my Manifestation Retreat in Februray 2013! Yesterday, she sent me a text of what she had been working on for my blog. (Much like her dad, she writes everything by hand. A foreign concept to me.) She sent me the following picture via text message and I shared it on my Facebook because I thought it was utterly brilliant.

F*ck the margins! I loved the idea so much that I used it as a theme in my yoga class last night. She then texted me, “Who decided that we need margins anyway?”

Sommer is a gifted writer and yogi. It is my great pleasure to introduce her to my tribe. Hers is a story that many of us can relate to. Be it addiction or struggles with weight or self-love, Sommer’s piece will most likely resonate with some “Aha moment.” I won’t share too much of it. That’s her job, her work. Plus, you can come with us to Maui and her hear give a lecture or take her class. Here is however, a sneak peak…

Tapestry by Sommer Wayne Dyer.

I am where I am today in a brand new way.

And it keeps getting better, this road that I travel.

I am so grateful for the feelings I am now experiencing.

I thought I had depleted all the good feelings.

I was wrong.

I am humbled by mistakes.

They are mine and I stand by them.

They stood by me, my mistakes did, for entirely too long.

For quite a while I let my mistakes and choices define me.

I was always looking to feel something else, to want more,

to be different than the way I am.

For years I was altering the person who is naturally me.

I’m not sure why since everything I’ve been looking for was already inside: the soul that is me. 

But life blocks it sometimes.

Sometimes things wound us in a way that we are forever different.

Sometimes I just wanted to be numb.

So I made sure of that.

But those years are in my past, my “story”.

Now I’m finding the ride no longer bumpy, but noticeably smoother.

I am in a space that I want to be in.

I am humbled.

Issues with the body, the vessel I reside in.

Injuries and medications.

And the weight and the way I allowed my appearance to define me.

The weight lost, the weight gained. Either way it’s a new perspective.

I don’t care what anyone says.

It’s mental and emotional and physiological and biological and physical.

And it’s all rational to my bewildered mind.

It can be anything: money, body image, weight loss, exercise, sex, drugs, gambling, any obsessions, goals, or lifelong dreams.

Anything that consumes you completely that you think of daily, sometimes constantly.

An urge you must accomplish.

But it’s also ethereal. It exists, yet no one knows.

It can consume your waking moments

And no one knows.

It causes moods to shift from the lowest dwelling imaginable to the most elevated levels of peace.

It’s an ally. Trust me. This insatiable urge inside of me, for whatever I was doing at the time, always got done.

And so it continues.

But from completely different motivators I am taking action.

I am improving.

I am not only losing weight. I am losing fear and doubt. I am gaining strength and passion. But I have no regrets or shame.

Everything I’ve gone through had to happen just as it did for me to be here now.

And right now, I’m loving it.

I like myself enough to listen to my intuitions.

I trust myself enough to know that I can do things gracefully.

I love myself enough to be careful with myself.

I want to write. I am ready to share what I saw on the roads and trails where I meandered.

I am ready to share a story about what I’ve put myself through.

It’s unbelievable that I sit here. My choices have illustrated this tapestry of my life that is tragic, yet beautiful.

A struggle we all have in this life, and one that we ultimately overcome.

When that struggle becomes your purpose you know that you are your own ally.

Make something big out of it.

Whatever it is that nags you or pulls your heartstrings every so often.

Let that purpose become your passion.

And the passion I have for what I feel is my purpose is palpable.

I’ve gone through a lot of shit to get where I am today. I survived a lot. So yeah it drives me.

So I no longer sit with a pen and a heavy heart and wilted soul. I write with pride and amusement. I write with integrity.

Even though my insanity was blissful in a way.

I had long ago abandoned myself in search for someone else.

But the person I was searching for was the potential me.

The person I knew that I could be and one day I would be.

And that day has come.

The time has arrived.

I choose to mindfully do my best.

I choose me.

Therefore I am free.

I am that I am.

Sommer and her beautiful mom.

Sommer Wayne Dyer 10-18-12

***To join Sommer and I (and special guests) in Maui please put a deposit down by clicking here. We will be at Lumeria the new Luxury retreat center with The Travel Yogi. My retreats have been selling out very fast and we only have a few spots left so book soon. This will be a life changing retreat. Email for more info.