Browsing Tag

writer

Guest Posts, writing

Learning To Eat Bitter.

December 15, 2013

Learning to Eat Bitter by Michael Wayne Hampton

I spent most of my early writing life as a fake writer. It’s part of the natural progression. Humans are wonderfully built to pretend. We adopt what touches us. Pretending to be a writer is an important first step to being one, but it can also be an invisible trap when our imagined lives are too comfortable to ruin with honesty.

My dorm walls were covered with black and white post cards of the usual college writer heroes: Kerouac brutally sad and smoking by a rail yard, Bukowski drunk and weary-eyed in an old flannel shirt, Allen Ginsberg awkward in clothes too big for him, and Flannery O’Connor with bobbed hair. I looked at those pictures every night and felt like I was one of their tribe. I was too young and sure of myself to realize that I’d only adopted their worldview and attitudes, vices and character. I hadn’t done any writing outside of my classes because actual writing was harder than being known as a writer. I was in love with the romantic idea, and not with the work.

As an undergrad my free time was spent in a coffee shop with other writers who never wrote, and we passed our time talking about all the things we were going to do. We were a satisfied self-appreciation society, and all on the verge of great work. Nothing holds more promise than a blank page, but promise is useless.

After I graduated I was blessed to get accepted into a MFA program based on the only real story I’d written in those years. It wasn’t until I got into that program that I found out that talent is another romantic idea, and even if it exists it won’t save you. I also learned the paradox of living as a writer; that you can be live as one without writing.

Here’s the thing. You can tell people you’re a writer and they’ll believe you. You can say you’re working on something, and they’ll play along. They might even refer to you as a writer which is sweet, but also completely meaningless. Writers don’t matter. Only the work does.

There’s a Chinese saying which states, “One must eat bitter to taste sweet,” and that sums up the life of a true writer. If you’re not into eastern philosophy the same sentiment was echoed by the southern author Larry Brown who said, “If you’re willing to hurt enough, you can have it.”

I didn’t “eat bitter,” or “hurt enough” while I wrote two books and read dozens more during my MFA program. Instead I built up scar tissue during all those long fights to rearrange the alphabet until I said something that was true, if only to me. Two and a half years later I graduated with a diploma, but it didn’t mean anything either. Diplomas don’t make you a writer. It’s not something you are, it’s something you do. The reward is in the work. All the rest is performance.

And the work never gets easier. That thing you hope most for, once you have it, will feel empty. Another thing will appear, impossibly far off in the future, and you’ll burn for it until you work and hurt enough to get it. Or else you’ll quit. You have the choice, and if you can quit you should because if you can quit it’s not for you. There are countless people waiting out there for your place who are willing to take the beating.

The world is filled with fake writers just as it’s filled with all other manner of dreamers. These people who are full of promise will post inspirational writing quotes, talk about what they want to do, and tell you about all the things that keep them from the work. Those people are lost until they realize that being a writer is useless; that only the words have value.

Build your scar tissue. Forget yourself. Stay in the fight until there’s blood on the floor and know you’re always just beginning. And also know that if you give up, no one will care or mourn all your wasted promise.

If you have a friend who is still pretending, who hasn’t learned to eat bitter but wants to be treated as a writer, let them. Be polite. You who have been wounded, who’ve been restless and broken by hope, know should appreciate more than anyone how much nicer it is to live that safe, romantic dream.

MyInkTankReading2

Michael Wayne Hampton is the author of three books, and his work has appeared in numerous publications such as The Southeast Review, Atticus Review, and McSweeney’s. His latest collection Romance for Delinquents is available for pre-order through his website or by visiting foxheadbooks.com. He can be reached at his website michaelwaynehampton.com.

Gratitude, Guest Posts, Manifestation Workshops

Moments by Kate Berlin.

January 29, 2013

So last weekend I led a sold out workshop in Atlanta. One of the girls in the workshop had driven from Tampa! That’s a 7 hour drive, folks. It blew my mind and what blew it even more was conencting with the girl. Her name is Kate Berlin and she is a phenomenal writer. Anyway, send her some love, will ya? Here is her link on Tumblr.

Here’s what she wrote about the experience:

(Moments)

That’s all we have with the people we love. I’m pretty sure I read that somewhere.

Moments are all we ever have. We no longer have the past. We will never hold onto the future. We can’t.

Last weekend was an out of body experience for me. I ran my first 5K and met Jennifer Pastiloff (writer/yoga inspiration) at a Manifestation Workshop led by her. HUGE stuff. Huge. Huge. HUGE. stuff. So incredibly universally huge that I am seriously left speechless by it all.

I am still speechless by it all.

There were tears, many tears, there was laughter, connection, letting go, forgiving, manifesting, conquering. You name it and it was there.

(There were moments)

And at one point during the workshop we had to sit across a partner and state what we were, no excuses, no explanation. Just straight. I am. This is hard for me, because usually ‘I am’ proceeds with, needy. [I am needy], insecure [I am insecure], not worthy [I am not worthy], you will never make it [I will never make it], but there was none of that allowed, so I really had to dig deep, or actually not really, because our magnificent truth is right there at the surface. It’s peeking, itching, anxious to jump out and proclaim who it is!

(Give it a moment)

So I sat there, dismissing my negativity, dismissing the cliche and spoke the truth, the thing that has always lingered at the tip of my tongue, the brink of my heart, but that normally seems too much of an unattainable dream to be truth, yet it is, so I went for it and proclaimed, “I am a writer”

And I sat there, while this absolute stranger stared into my eyes, into me, her eyes probing, seeing what I just stated as it unfolded…

(in that moment nothing else could be more true).

She was looking, past my thinkings of what if; what if she thinks I am nothing I just proclaimed? And there I was, staring back, and the only thing I could think of was that I had to hold onto this moment. I had to never forget this face. This person who is touching every corner of my truth. Who saw me, as I was, and who I saw, as she is.

(hold onto this moment)

She turned out to be a writer also. She wants the same thing I want. She was a reflection of myself. And I could see her thinking the same thing, feeling the same fears. We both want it, badly, we do and as we stared at each other we were both fearful.

“I just proclaimed I am a writer, to a writer, she will see right through me and question my ability to write, like how I question my own ability to be a writer on a daily basis.”

We both write, but which one of us is the writer? As if there is only room for one, when there is room for many. There are moments for everyone.

(hold onto this moment.)

(hold onto this moment tight)

we lifted each other to such heights, there was nothing else there but the truth. Two writers, sharing a space, sharing energy, sharing a dream.

(sharing a moment)

She wants to be on the best-seller list and she will be. I know this. I never once doubted her ability to be a writer, and when the moment was over I hugged her and told her the only truth I knew of her; she is a writer. She is.

She is a writer. And I am a writer. And we both hold onto moments. We will both forever hold onto that one. Where we were nothing but two writers, wanting so bad to have our words be read.

And all I want is a book, a page, a sentence, read and understood. I want to reach out of these words and hold onto the person who reads this. Can you feel it? Do you see this? I understand. [I understand]. I want that.

I want to do, and see, and hear, and feel and I want to write about it.

I want moments, and I want to showcase them forever with the beauty only words know how to.

I want from point A to point B, I want heaven and hell, the ugliness truth holds and the beauty once it sets, I want all those moments and I want to write about it.

Moments make me a writer.

(Moments will forever proclaim me a writer)

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Jennifer Pastiloff, Beauty Hunter, is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up: South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Kripalu Center For Yoga & Health, Tuscany. She is also leading a Writing + The Body Retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch Jan 30-Feb 1 in Ojai (sold out) as well as Other Voices Querétaro with Gina Frangello, Emily Rapp, Stacy Berlein, and Rob Roberge. She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.

healing, Jen Pastiloff, Jen's Musings, Truth

Promises & Lies.

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

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

You promised though.

You promised.

I promise you.

We promise.

I promise. 

Hsssssssss. Promisssssse.

**

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it did.

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

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

Did he really say that?

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

You always break your promises! I hate you.

The end.

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

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

Fucking promises.

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

How dare you promise anything?

 

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

I couldn’t even keep a promise to myself.

I promise I will do better.

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

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

I lied to myself over and over.

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

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

They will not carry you.

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

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

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

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

Bad things happen to everyone sometimes.

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

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

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

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

Don’t do it.

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

I knew I would do it again.

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

I think they actually think they are keeping us safe.

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

We all want to be safe.

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

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

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

I didn’t ever put the platforms back on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

 

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it's magical.

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it’s magical.

 

 

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

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

Guest Posts, Inspiration

The Blank Page by Denise Barry.

December 19, 2012

The Blank Page by Denise Barry

Sears Adventure

 

When I was eight years old I desperately wanted to be a writer.

I didn’t know I could be one without a typewriter (yes, I am old enough to have used a typewriter!) and I knew my parents couldn’t afford to buy me one, so I fiercely prayed to Santa Claus on a nightly basis, begging him to bring me one for Christmas.

When Christmas morning came, I held my breath as I tore into the beautifully wrapped box with my name on it, from Santa. I reached inside and pulled out….a ream of paper.

I glared at that paper with as much hate as I could muster. “Why am I getting this?” I thought, bitterly. “What am I going to do with paper?”

It should have made sense to me that if I was getting paper, the reason I was getting it would follow. But I was too fixated on what it wasn’t to have any common sense.

My mom had been watching me the whole time. “Is there anything else in there?” she prompted, sounding amused.

I looked in the box again. I don’t know how I had missed it before, but there it was – my typewriter!

I didn’t notice that it probably weighed less than a pound and it was made almost entirely out of plastic. All I knew was that it was the color of my heart, and it glowed, just like my mother’s eyes as she watched me jump up and down, hugging it close.

The paper meant something to me then. I fell in love with it. I remember how I gently slid that first piece out of its package, not wanting to crease it in any way. It felt so smooth and clean and pure. It was as empty as a new day, just waiting to be filled with whatever I chose to fill it with. What a delicious feeling. What a gift!

I excitedly rolled that page into my typewriter and began tapping away on the keys. I watched as words appeared, then sentences. I couldn’t believe that what had been just a thought in my head was appearing on this blank canvas, right before my eyes! The reality of this scared me. “What if I make a mistake? I can’t just erase it, it’s ink!” I thought. The paper felt so special to me, I didn’t want to waste even one piece of it!

Well, it turns out, I did make mistakes. A lot of them. But I never wasted even one sheet of paper. With every piece I crumpled up and threw away, I was one page closer to what worked for me, what felt right.

When I was nine years old I wrote a song for my mother, which she made me sing ALL the time! After she died a couple of years ago, I found it tucked away in an envelope, inside her box of treasures. She had saved it for all these years.

I am humbled to realize that my thoughts are creations. MY creations. And that what I create can be powerful enough to touch someone so deeply, they treasure it for a lifetime.

What a powerful gift we come equipped with and no Santa required (sorry Santa!).

If you would like to see the original song I wrote, click here

Shared with love by Denise Barry. To learn more about Denise, click here.

And So It Is, Owning It!

What is Your Truth?

November 12, 2012

I love Jenni Young. She took my words and made a poster with a photo she took of me!

 

What is your truth?

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.

 

This quote from my essay entitled “Update Your Vision”. Click here to read and please feel free to share. I would love to hear below what your truth is. I will start. My truth is: I am a writer.

Your turn…

Tweet me @JenPastiloff your truth with hashtag #MyTruth by clicking 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

 

 

 

Inspiration, manifesting, Owning It!

The Freedom That Comes With Changing Your Mind.

July 30, 2012

When I was 11 years old I discovered acting. I became obsessed with it like a magical something I had found under a rock in my backyard, a magical something that was all mine. Once I turned the rock over I had found my little magical kingdom and got lost in it, spending afternoons after school cleaning toilets or sweeping so I could be part of the acting troupe.

It was all mine and I loved it. 

Me with the white face in a play called
“Dear Gabby” at the Santa Monica Playhouse when I was 11.

I remember jumping up and down yelling Energy and Enthusiasm! as we were directed to do, when the teachers asked us what the most important qualities in acting were. (Not sure I agree with that answer anymore but we were like little soldiers waving our flags energetically, enthusiastically.

Prior to moving to California, my father had just quietly slipped away one night in July. Slipping right on out his body and right on out of this world and I knew very little of energy or enthusiasm.

He had ducked out of his life by way of his heart and it is no small irony that the heart is the great focal point of my teachings now, on and off the mat. So my father had passed away like a sonofabitch and left us stranded in Pennsauken, NJ, right outside of Philadelphia. What were we to do besides remodel our kitchen and spend a lot of money fixing up our house before deciding we wanted nothing more to do with this, with any of it.

By we I am speaking of my 34 year old mother but when you are 8 and your sister is 5, your mother gets to be the decision maker. She gets to be the We.

So we agree to leave it all behind and move to California to start over. We are starting over we would say when people would ask why we had moved from New Jersey.

I made friends for life in that acting bubble of my life. I would sit in 7th grade and doodle as my teacher was talking about maps or math and write I looooooooove acting.

I stopped writing when my dad died. It reminded me of him and I resented it and wanting nothing to do with it. It embarrassed me like I was a teenager and it was my parent. Go away, I yelled at it.

We write to remember and I in no way wanted to remember.

We moved back to NJ, which is all part of my book and if you want to know all the details you will have to buy said book that I should be writing as I write this blog instead.

We move back to NJ and my energy and enthusiasm is nowhere to be found as I am in 8th grade, possibly the worst grade ever, and everything that had made my life worth living was now 3,000 miles away and here I was in a place with seasons and regional accents and cheesesteaks and obsessions with Philly sports’ teams.

Later, much later, as I lived in NYC and was studying at NYU, I fell back in love with writing. Like I had left my teenage years and could once again be seen with my parents in public places.

I thought about acting a lot and considered trying it in NYC but I thought I would rather get a good education as an English major. (Insert a WTF icon here.)

I was very sick in my final years in NYC, starving myself and abusing laxatives and freezing all the time with big dilated pupils and purple fingernails. I hated the city as I loved it but more I think I hated it because I felt swallowed and alone and honestly, a little crazy. Because I never ate.

Here is a fact: Not eating makes you a little crazy. And very cold.

So I left NYC to come back to California at age 21 to feel safe. My mom and sister had moved back to California. You may start to see a theme here with all the moving. Not sure yet what that theme is exactly.

Here we are again in California.

I start hosting first, then waitressing at The Newsroom Cafe in West Hollywood where I would stay for 13 years. I had no clue what I wanted to do with myself. I had gained weight back, not enough to not be thin anymore, but enough that I did not look like I was dying. That would change over the years. I would go up and down.

I didn’t know what I wanted so I went back to acting school. This one was different than my earlier affair with acting. This was a serious, and I mean serious, two year Meisner Technique Program. We did not jump up and down yelling Energy and Enthusiasm, I can tell you that.

After the training ending I was 23 or 24 years old and when people would ask me what I did as I tool their order for veggie burgers or chicken pot pies, I would say I am an actor and do you want anything to drink with that?

Most people assumed I was an actress. Part of the territory of waitering in L.A. I suppose. I wasn’t doing much about this acting business except charming people that came in and making them laugh and hoping that one would stop and say “There you are! I have been waiting for you! Come with me and I am going to make you a star! Put down that apron now!.”

This. Never. Happened.

What also never happened is that I never really tried to work as an actress. I had a commercial agent and went on the random audition but here is the thing: I don’t think I ever wanted to be an actor.

And I think I knew this early on but I was so scared because if I did not want to act then what would I say when people asked me what I did and what did I want and oh My God and I will just stick with saying I am an actor.

And then ten years passed.

My commercial agent dropped me because I never booked. They never sent me out and I never really wanted it so I don’t blame them although their line of We think you are more dramatic and not really commercial was actually a line of bull, if I may say so.

I took a deep sigh in and exhaled: I am done.

I change my mind.

I went to a very Hollywoody part Saturday (another blog entirely) where I realized the freedom I had given myself. Not because I wasn’t in the cesspool of insecurity and competition and heartache anymore, (although that does feel really good), but because I can say No, I am not an actress. I used to be.

So what if I never booked a job? I used to be an actress. I did! I loved it and I certainly acted although I lied to myself and others by saying I wanted a career of it. And I was so scared for a long time to give up that identity because it was all I had.

Who would I be if I said I wasn’t an actor?

Would I be ‘just’ a waitress?

That thought used to make me want to hide in shame. I look back can see I am the same Jen now as I was then.

I could never visualize myself on a movie set. True story. I just couldn’t do it. That should have been my red flag but I pretended for years that if I could just get a break then I would book a job.

The truth is if I could just be honest and change my mind about who I was, or even about the fact that I had no idea who I was, then I would get a big break.

I did and I did. I changed my mind and here I am doing very well at something I love and making money and living my bliss.

Is my life perfect?

No. It’s a little messy, and disorganized and over-caffeinated and I love it.

Do I miss acting? Yes! I am a ham who loves performing and telling jokes and stories and laughing and being different people. But it’s ok. I tell stories in my writing and I laugh with my friends and I tell jokes in my classes. I get my fill.

I am no longer scared to say who I am. Or what I want. Or that I don’t know what the Hell I want.

Or that I waitressed at the same cafe for 13 years after being a Scholar at NYU and majoring in English because I was too stuck and terrified to move in any direction.

You can change your mind at any moment.

Go ahead. Change it right now.

Q & A Series

Jodyne Speyer: Author of ‘Dump ‘Em. The Manifestation Q&A Series.

February 15, 2012

Welcome to The Manifestation Q&A Series.

I am Jennifer Pastiloff and this series is designed to introduce the world to someone I find incredible. Someone who is manifesting their dreams on a daily basis.

I worked at The Newsroom Cafe on Robertson Blvd in West Hollywood for 13 years. Yes, you read right. One of the best things about this fact is the people I met. In fact, a good number of the Q&As so far have been with friends I met along the way, whom I served the famous artichoke and veggie burgers. When the Universe wants someone in your life, it will seat them in your station.

Today’s guest, the gorgeous and funny Jodyne Speyer is one of those very people. I had probably waited on her for 10 years. (A side note: because of my hearing problem I always thought her name was Jody. Literally until we became Facebook friends a few years back. Please, I beg of you, if I am calling you Sue, and your name is Sarah, TELL ME!)

I always have thought Jodyne was funny, but, it wasn’t until I started reading her writing that I realized just how powerful and poignant she was. Funny yes, but also brave and sensitive and honest. I am honored she is with us here today. I recently read a piece of hers on the Huffington Post which prompted me to reach out.

In another life, we would have been sisters. In this life, I am happy to call her Friend. 

She is the author of the book, Dump ‘Em: How To Break Up With Anyone From Your Best Friend to Your Hairdresser, featured on: The View, Good Morning America, Rachael Ray, The Bonnie Hunt Show, The Early Show, TIME Magazine, USA TODAY, The Guardian, Fitness Magazine as well as hundreds of other local TV and radio stations worldwide. She has helped thousands of people speak up for themselves to get what they want by being direct and honest in how they communicate. Jodyne empowers men and women alike through her one-on-one and group coaching, as well as her lectures and seminars. She’s also a contributor to The Huffington Post.

So, you can see why I asked her to sit down with me today. She empowers people to manifest what they want in life.

Without further ado, the amazing Jodyne.

PS, get her book, kids. It’s that good.

She manifested a bestseller!

Jodyne Speyer

Jennifer Pastiloff: What are you most proud to have manifested in your life?

Jodyne Speyer: The check I got from Harper Collins for my book Dump ‘Em. It was more about what the check represented. As a writer you always dream that one day someone other than you mother will acknowledge your writing. Oh, and by the way, thanks mom! Even when Harper Collins put an offer in on my book, I still didn’t fully grasp that I was going to get paid to write it, or that anyone would actually be reading it. There was something so powerful about having that check in my hand and walking to the bank to deposit it. I remember I was at the Bank of America on Broadway and 53rd St. in New York and I told a complete stranger in line that I was cashing my first check as a writer. He couldn’t care any less, but it didn’t matter because I knew I had achieved something great.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What’s the greatest lesson that you have learned from being a writer?

Jodyne SpeyerThat everyone has a story. You just have to listen.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Who has been your greatest teacher?

Jodyne Speyer:  My grandmother. The woman survived Auschwitz, yet loved life, people and laughter. She survived the concentration camps because she had a son, my birth father, who she knew she had to return to. She taught me that when there’s a will, there’s a way. That nothing is impossible, and that laughter will get you through anything.

Jennifer Pastiloff: I loved the piece about the “other woman” in The Huffington Post. Can you share a little about that for those that haven’t read it? Click here to read.

Jodyne Speyer: I always wanted to write a story about the woman who my father left my mother for. When people talk about the other woman they usually portray her in such a negative light, and I wanted to show another side to that. In my case, I loved the other woman very much and was so grateful that she was there for me during a very difficult time, my parent’s divorce. I was so happy that the Huffington Post printed the story and was so incredibly touched by the number of other women who reached out to me, thanking me for sharing my story.

Jennifer Pastiloff: I have a list of “rules”. See below. What would some of Jodyne’s rules be?

Jodyne Speyer: The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club.

 

Kidding aside, I’ve always found rules to be too confining, so I don’t adhere to any.

Jennifer Pastiloff:  Who/what inspires you the most?

Jodyne Speyer: My sister Susan Silverman and brother-in-law Yosef Abramowitz. They live in Jerusalem with their five kids. I just got back from visiting them and can honestly say my sister does more in one day than I do in an entire year. Not only is she a gifted Rabbi, a super talented writer, amazing mother and wife, she always finds time to listen to anyone that needs her. Meanwhile my brother-in-law, Yosef, is in the process of bringing solar energy to Israel while at the same time creating a new business model, one that helps employ and empower disadvantaged communities. Last week his company, Arava Power, helped launch a solar field on Bedouin land in Israel so that not only will jobs be created for Bedouins, they will also be able to profit from the earnings. He’s already looking ahead to Haiti and other struggling communities around the world. I hope that more businesses will be inspired to create similar models, in which social justice is integral.

Jennifer Pastiloff: I teach many of my classes to the theme of gratitude. If you could say thank you right now to one person who would it be?

Jodyne Speyer: Well, today is my mother’s birthday, so I have to say that on this special day, I am most thankful to her for giving me the gift of life and for being such an amazing and loving mother.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What is one message you would pass on right now to someone looking to manifest their best selves?

Jodyne SpeyerI always find that the people who are most authentic and present in the moment are the ones that shine bright.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What brings you the most joy? Your joy list, as it were.

Jodyne Speyer: You are so fancy Jennifer. “As you were.” I feel like we’re in an episode of Downton Abbey. As it were, I enjoy a good laugh. It’s the fastest way of getting me out of foul mood. Give me a funny story or joke any day and I am a happy camper. I also get a tremendous amount of joy from my best friend’s three little girls who fearlessly leap into my arms every time I see them.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What can we expect you to be manifesting in 2012?

Jodyne Speyer: I hope to write my first screenplay this year. It’s based on a blog I wrote for the Huffington Post called, “Up For Grabs”.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Can you share with us a bit about your book ‘Dump ‘Em? I know for me this is a tough one, the idea of “breaking up” with someone?

Jodyne Speyer: Sure! I wrote Dump ‘Em: How to Break Up With Anyone From Your Best Friend to Your Hairdresser for totally selfish reasons. I hadn’t the faintest idea of how to break up with people. I had always been the classic avoider. But as we all know, avoiding a person doesn’t mean they magically go away. I was sick of living in the grey, so I went in search of a book that would teach me how to do it. Shockingly there was no such book. So I decided I would devote one year of my life and interview therapists, doctors, lawyer, you name it; while at the same time interview everyone I knew and asked them to share their stories. By the end of the year, I learned that not only is there really a way to kindly and respectfully end a relationship, but that it only requires a few simple steps!

 

Jennifer Pastiloff: When was the last time you laughed at yourself?

Jodyne Speyer: This morning when I tried to use the word “Vag” while playing Words with Friends. 

Jennifer Pastiloff ( as soon as I finish laughing): Where can we find more of Jodyne Speyer?

Jodyne Speyer: People can check out my website

https://www.jodynespeyer.com/

Or if they want to learn more about my book, they can go to

https://www.amazon.com/Dump-Em-Anyone-Friend-Hairdresser/dp/0061646628

Or visit my twitter page

https://twitter.com/#!/jodynel

Dump ‘Em is not just funny, it’s practical. Jodyne Speyer has figured out a way to sever the ties that so many of us would rather miserably live with forever.”     

comedienne— Sarah Silverman

Jen’s “rules”:

1. Be Kind.

2. Have a sense of humor especially when it comes to yourself

3. Write poems, even if only in your head

4. Sing out loud, even if badly

5. Dance

6. If you don’t have anything nice to say… you know the deal

7. Find things to be in awe of

8. Be grateful for what you have right now .

9. Watch Modern Family, read Wayne Dyer, and end every complaint with “But I’m so blessed!”

10. Duh, do yoga

11. Don’t worry. Everyone on Facebook seems like they have happier and funner lives. They don’t.

12. Tell someone you love that you love them. Right now.

13.. Take more pictures.

14. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. No such thing.

15. Thank the Universe in advance.