courage, depression, Guest Posts, Home

Transition Town

November 23, 2015

By Zara Brandt

Decided to go for a walk tonight, just for the sake of it. From Bow Road to Aldgate East I look down at the pavement the whole way with my hands in my pockets. I love the way the cracks on the floor feel underneath my worn out converse shoes. Sometimes the slabs of concrete are loose and rock back and forth underneath me. I enjoy that. Almost criss-crossing from one slab to the other looking for the perfect loose one just to experience a millisecond of pure childish joy. People around me must think me to be drunk. Rush hour and the millions of Londoners are passing me by.

I allow not one of their faces to meet the eyes on my own. I keep looking to the cracks on the floor as I step, step, step. I don’t want them to see the sadness in me in this moment. I can’t bare the thought of them being able to read my loneliness today. To see the yearning in my eyes, to know that the one thing I desire the most right now is to have someone adoringly kiss me goodnight right before I turn the lamp off on my bedside table full of books. No, I can’t have them see that. And truthfully, I don’t want to see the yearning in their eyes either. I keep walking. I can’t find any more loose slabs of pavement. I get distracted anyway. The skies are starting to get darker earlier now.

All these people on High Street come from so many different corners of the world. If you planted me here not telling me which country I was in, I’d never guess it to be England. Reminds me of Toronto and suddenly makes me feel more at home. Home; what a loaded word. I’ve been searching for the feeling behind it for most my life. Living in as many houses as years I’ve been alive, it’s hard to know what a true home feels like. I’ll be thirty in a few days. Continue Reading…

Compassion, death, Grief, Guest Posts

Out of Death, Something

November 22, 2015

By Mark Liebenow

In late April we gather our dead and cry. For some it has been a year since our lives were ripped apart, for others barely a month. Emotions are on edge.

We are the families of those who died and donated their organs, and we have gathered at Chabot College in Northern California to honor our loved ones. My mother-in-law Marjorie has come with me. She is doing better after burying Evelyn, her youngest child and my wife, and is back to running the office of her retirement community.

I think of Tom Hanks in the movie Cast Away. He went to college here at Chabot, and there is a life-sized cutout of him in the lobby. He plays a man who struggles to survive physically and emotionally after his plane crashes in the Pacific Ocean. In one scene, before learning how to make a fire, he eats a raw, gelatinous fish. The look in his eyes as he chews is of a person wondering what’s the point when it’s unlikely he will ever be rescued. I know that look. When he gets back home years later, his wife has remarried, so he begins a new life with what he has left. I sense he will be happy, and wish that life was like it is in the movies.

Reg Green is the main speaker and talks about the desperate need for organ donations. The wife of my friend John was one of those who died waiting. In 1994, robbers killed Green’s seven-year-old son, Nicholas, when the family was vacationing in Italy. He and his wife donated their son’s organs to seven Italians. Because of their selfless act, the organ transplant movement finally took hold in that country. Donations doubled and thousands of people are alive because of them. A movie was made about it, Nicholas’ Gift, which starred Alan Bates and Jamie Lee Curtis. “Each year in the U.S.,” Green says, illustrating how often even the very young die, “five thousand families donate the organs of a child.”

After his speech, the smiling face of each donor in a time of happiness fills the large theater screen, and a hush settles over us. Music fills the auditorium as image after image bring back the childhood joy of Danielle, age fifteen, red bandana on her head; Dexter, two years old; forty-eight-year-old Bill with a Fu Manchu moustache; Maribel, a young mother dead at twenty-six; three-year-old Eddrick in his new sweater; nine-month-old Alexandre in knitted cap; and the photos and names of one hundred and forty others, including Evelyn’s, her face shining with hope.

Ev died in her forties of an unknown heart problem, and I think of the dreams we had for our future that now lie in ruins. In the memorial booklet I read the words I wrote that begin: “Evelyn’s soul was sweet like dawn in the Sierra Nevada. She was intoxicating like alpine air. The light in her eyes illuminated the dark paths through the forest of my heart….” Continue Reading…

courage, depression, Gratitude, Guest Posts, writing

Navels Are Natural

November 8, 2015
Master Cow, mixed media collage, 1998.

By Caroll Sun Yang

Do you, you feel like I do?                                                                                           

Do you, you feel like I do? — Peter Frampton

Being an artist is like being a wrung out rag, making and mopping up messes, bunched up in the corner, oft hung to dry, wearing history on our sleeves, smelling of our own mammal ripeness and occasionally being thrown in with the real wash. We who soak in alphabets, images, and sounds know that all arts demand that we uphold a fundamental oath to act as shaman, seers, provocateurs, infants terrible, politicians, romancers, therapists, charmers, jokesters, witches, pioneers, maniacs, hookers… and all of this sexily to boot. If we fail at these tasks, oh arduous hours flecked with blessed golden play, then our lives will seem utterly wasted. Our creative callings failed. Leaks in the hot tin roofs. Ancient toilets stopped up. Lives less lived. Muzzled. We are about to blow!

If I seem melodramatic and insecure, it is because I am. In this lowly state, I let my mind wander off to pasture. Chewing the cud, metaphorical green juice dribbling down my shirtfront, prostrate in bed, covered in ancient fawn quilting à la Salvation Army, cats fighting at my feet like warm lumps of tangling frisk. My gut consists of Mr. Pibb carbonation dancing with a cheap chile relleno burrito all laced with psychotropics. I burn. I feel strong. Full of jitterbugging ideas jostling into place. Visions. Sounds. Alphabets. Maybe my aura is finally lava.

I am typing on a cellular QWERTY pad, words tumble after one another on an eerily lit screen sized smaller than a maxi-pad (great metaphors abound), my skull and brain propped up on two pillows, growing heavier with each word, double chin at attention, heartbeat slowing to a meditative rate, legs like dumb sticks. My life has been reduced to thumb typing essays on the same devices that boisterous MTV and Tyra Banks reality show participants showily make use of. Their devices announce: “Meet at the holy hell wrecking ball platform wearing sneakers and bathing suits at 8 a.m.! Get ready for a raunchy, mad blast! Today is elimination day.” Or “Be fierce! Today you will walk the runway for anonymous couture designer, winner will be treated to anonymous jeweler’s jewels and full body massages!” My humble cell announces no such sport. At 8 a.m. I am usually shuttling children to school, teeth unclean, sunglasses hiding yesterday’s raccoon eyes, donning paint splattered tee and torn pajama bottoms, breasts swinging free, naked feet, throttling through any drive-through Starbucks. My text messages read like this, “Where r u?” to which I might respond with “Ded.” Or on a decent day, “Writing. XO.”

I run with a pack that the uninitiated might describe as “eccentric” or “off” or “bat shit crazy”. We artists do not pace in straight sober lines, solving problems like accountants, optometrists or soldiers do. We professional imaginers pace the ground raw in drunken lines, darting in and out of reality, occasionally leaping from the sheer thrill of “breaking through”. We inventors, theorists, artists, writers, musicians… struggle, but in the name of what exactly? Exactly.

We are generally benign, somewhat opinionated, obsessive nerds. While the universe propels forward, infinite events occurring simultaneously, we feel caught in its sway. It is our job to mark time/space in unique ways while attempting to engage others. Sometimes we will fail at this; many hours will be lost to intense examinations of life, but some hours we will make magic- magnificently warping perceptions. On days when I feel especially wrung out, halted and alone- I seek out my fatherly path pavers. Continue Reading…

Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts

10 Girls Sponsored for Jen Pastiloff’s “Girl Power: You Are Enough” Workshop!

September 12, 2015

First off, please share this blog. It is crunch time. The workshops are  NEXT WEEKEND!

OMG! An anonymous sponsor is sending 10 girls to my #GirlPowerYouAreEnough workshop next weekend. I have 10 spots to give away to each workshop.

Saturday Sep 19 is Princeton (must be at least 13 years old) and Sunday Sep 20th is NYC (must be at least 16 years old.)

Please send an email to with Girl Power Scholarship in subject line and a paragraph or so explaining why you want to attend as we only have ten to give away for each workshop. This is a perfect opportunity for someone who could not normally afford this. If you have a friend or know someone that you would like to send, please let them know. This is truly life-altering for me that someone did this. I am so excited to do this workshop and I need all of your help.

You can buy tickets here for Princeton

You can buy tickets here for NYC.

To apply for the scholarship spots email with a short note explaining why you want the spot.




Bring a journal, a pen, an open heart, and a sense of humor. Oh, and your badass self!

We will do some yoga but no experience is required.

If you do not have a mat, one will be provided for you.

This will be a safe, fun and empowering afternoon.

If you are ready to change the world by simply BEING YOU…. sign up.

I also have a special guest speaker who is sure to inspire you and blow you away. Check her out below!!

I am so excited that powerful and amazing women like Cheryl Strayed, Lidia Yuknavitch, Rachel Brathen (Yoga_Girl) are supporting this movement. Do you see what is possible when we lift each other up instead of compete or tear each other down? Do you see? It is magic. PURE UNADULTERATED MAGIC.

I have so many exciting things coming up, so many things I am giving away (like spots at retreats.) I am committed to living my life by the principle of “How may I serve?” Especially after my teacher Wayne Dyer passed away last week. Especially then.




You know what’s exciting?
I’m blown away!
I’m speechless.
I love women!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thank you to all of you who are helping me spread the word about Girl Power: You Are Enough (launches next weekend in NJ and NY.)
How bold one gets when one is sure of being loved.
Watch how bold I can be.
I love you all.


Please email asap if you want the spots for the workshops next weekend as they will go very quickly. Please help me with this mission as I cannot do it alone. Spread the tag #GirlPowerYouAreEnough all over the internet. Let’s break the internet. Move over, Kim Kardashian! :)

Ring in New Years 2016 with Jen Pastiloff at her annual Ojai retreat. It's magic! It sells out quickly so book early. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. With a sense of humor. Email with questions or click photo to book.

Ring in New Years 2016 with Jen Pastiloff at her annual Ojai retreat. It’s magic! It sells out quickly so book early. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. With a sense of humor. Email with questions or click photo to book.

Sign up for Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner's newsletter launching this fall!

Sign up for Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s newsletter launching this fall!


Guest Posts, Interview, Jen Pastiloff, Jen's Musings

This Podcast Will Change Your Life.

September 1, 2015
And I looked up and it was all right there.
And I thought: Thank You.

Thank you to every single thing that has gotten me here. Every mistake, every "fuck up," everything I didn't do or did do, everything. Thank you to every person who has been on this journey with me. Every teacher. I thought, "it's all right here."
With me. Inside me. All around me. 
And then I thought," go make something with your life." And I am. Every day I'm out here making my life. Trying to turn it into something beautiful. 
Thank you. Thank you. May I be a human thank you. All of it has led me to here.

So, as I mentioned in my last blog called “Shitty Advice” (still waiting for some of you to post your shittiest advice, by the way) I did a podcast while I was in Chicago with THE Ben Tanzer. Was all kinds of amazing. Here we are, looking all Bennifer-ish on a Chicago street.



In this podcast I discuss:

what risk means


What the f*ck my workshop is

Wayne Dyer (which is crazy because he just passed away on Sunday. Rest in peace, my beloved teacher.)

Emily Rapp, Lidia Yuknavitch and other kick ass women


being disorganized


telling the truth

having a baby.. or not

my new book

Girl Power: You Are Enough

and more.

Lots more.

So much more.

It would mean the world to me and I will buy you a glass of wine or an ice cream cone if you listened to it and shared it. Thank you Ben. It truly was an honor. I have done love. Listen here. 

Click to listen to podcast

Click to listen to podcast

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Jen Pastiloff, Jen's Musings

Shitty Advice.

August 29, 2015

By Jen Pastiloff.

I am working on a book of essays called You, Of All People. Shitty Advice will be a chapter title as will I’m Sorry, But.

Anyway, I’m up early.

Me, of all people.

Early– Ish.

Ish is one of my favorite words. My sister and I always say we are more Jew-ish than Jewish. When I teach yoga and I ask my class to go into a dolphin pose or forearm balance or I always add or “ish.” It’s like 9 am-ish (okay, it is 9:59) but I was up real early at 2:45 when I couldn’t fall back asleep due to the heat (and maybe the one too many glasses of rosé I drank with my Irish friends at 4 p.m.)

Nathan Connelly and Jonny Quinn of Snow Patrol and me. Check out Nathan's band Little Matador, too. It was so hot that I think Sun Patrol is a more apt title.

Nathan Connelly and Jonny Quinn of Snow Patrol and me (not of Snow Patrol.) Check out Nathan’s band Little Matador, too. It was so hot that I think Sun Patrol is a more apt title.

I was in bed by 9 because this old lady can’t day-drink that much and continue it (it meaning staying awake) into the evening. So now I am up and thought maybe I should blog because it has been awhile and I always swear to myself that I will blog more frequently but apparently I am a big fat liar to myself. So. Anyway, happy Saturday.

Last weekend I was in Chicago. It was my first time and was a bit of a bucket list thing for me. Growing up on the east coast, it always amazed me that I had never been. Just like as a Jew(ish) person from Jersey, having never been to Florida until I was a grown ass adult was just plain weird. But I have fixed both things. I have been to Florida and now Chicago.




My workshop in Chicago was, as someone said in a note they left me, #fuckingawesome. It was hashtag worthy.




People drove from all over (Indiana, Ohio, Florida, Minnesota) and the room was light and bright and filled with beautiful people who trusted me (and themselves) enough to show up even though they had no flipping’ clue what the heck my workshop actually was. (Most still didn’t even after it ended and tears were streaming down their faces and they all stood clapping. They just nodded yes yes yes and This was everything even though they had no idea what to call what just happened.) It felt like an outer body experience for me in many ways and I truly felt grateful that I get to do this for a living. I have no idea what the future will hold, if I will have a baby, how I will continue on with this travel schedule, this site, bla bla bla but hey, I am here now and enjoying the ride and isn’t that something?




What if we stopped and just went, “Oh yea, this is great. Right now.” I may not know what next year will be like (who does?) but that is what usually gets us into trouble, isn’t it? Stopping ourselves from being in the moment by going, “What if this doesn’t last? What if the other shoe drops? What if?”

Wearing Electric & Rose.


Continue Reading…

courage, Guest Posts

A Letter To My Son

August 25, 2015
letter to my son

By Susan Rahn

Dear Son,

You just turned 16.

It seems like I blinked and you went from a curious toddler to a handsome, bright young man with such a bright future within your grasp. I so excited for you and can’t wait to see what path you choose for yourself. I’m confident you’ll choose wisely.

There is so much I want to tell you but I know how much you hate ‘mushy’ letters. This will not be one of those. This includes important things to remember for when you choose a partner to share your life with.

You’re probably shaking your head at me because of how things didn’t work out with me and your Father. I may not seem like the best person to be doling out advice but I have a very unique perspective that I didn’t have before.

Obviously, you’ll want someone who loves and respects you. You’ll want someone that you can laugh with and share memories with. Everyone does. You’ll also want someone who drives you a little bit crazy with the particular way they do things. It’s OK. It will remind you of why you fell in love in the first place.

You’ll want someone who shares some of your interests. It’s OK if there are some differences. If you both liked all the same things life would be boring.

Now pay attention because this is important. This is something few are told and even less consider when choosing a partner…ready?

Be very, very certain that if your partner or you ever have a significant health issue that both of you will be committed to each other. That you’ll support each other emotionally because that’s so important. Neither of you can ‘check out’ emotionally because things get scary. Be sure that you’ll both dig your heels in and support one another. Don’t be so selfish that your feelings become more important than her’s regardless of who is ill. Continue Reading…

Eating Disorders/Healing, feminism, Guest Posts

You Really Should Be Skinnier

August 18, 2015

IMG_0883If you are looking t0 book my workshop Girl Power: You Are Enough on Sep 19 in Princeton click here (Must be 13 years old.)

Click here for Sep 20 in NYC (must be at least 16 years old.)

By Jen Pastiloff.

There was this guy who came in the Newsroom, where I worked. Damn girl, they been feeding you. He actually said that as he reached for my stomach. He tried to touch me as he hurled that insult at me like I was some animal in a cage. Like I was someone he felt he actually had a right to touch. It was all I could hear for days: Damn girl, they been feeding you. As I put food in my mouth: Damn girl, they been feeding you. As I waited on customers: Damn Girl, they been feeding you.

This morning, a beautiful woman who attended my New Year’s Retreat in Ojai posted on our secret page. Yes, we have secret pages. We are super secret spies.

She posted this:

I had a man tell me last night as a “well intentioned tip” that if I wanted to get serious about making a living selling healthy food, I would need to lose weight.
I was once a size 16. Now, I’m a size 4.
When does the insanity stop???

Then this:

And I know I should get over it and move on. But see, I don’t fucking want to. I want to harness this pain and shame and embarrassment and create a safe haven for people who just want to be WELL. Who just want to be ENOUGH. Thank you again, Jen, for providing this little tiny safe haven in this big bad ugly world. It’s so hard to do all of this alone.

That is all I ever want to do, create a safe haven so someone, maybe one person, does not feel so alone. Watch the video below and post your thoughts on this topic, if you would. I am so passionate about us embracing our beauty no matter what. Those last words are key.




This work I am doing with Girl Power is so important. It’s important for all of us, but my God, I want to start in on them young. A couple years ago I was having lunch with a guy friend and he said, “With a few tweaks, your body would be perfect.”

Another guy, “You only have a little layer of sweetness on you.”

A manager, from my “acting” years, “Lose ten pounds. You have nothing right now but how you look and so you need to look as perfect as you can be.”

These things have gotten stuck. I get it. I do an exercise that you know of if you have attended my workshops. The one and the one hundred. If you have a hundred people in a room and they all love you except one, who do you focus on?

Most say “the one.”

This is why I created this quote:

It's a huge honor to have another card up at Emily McDowell Studio. Click to order.

It’s a huge honor to have another card up at Emily McDowell Studio. Click to order.

Continue Reading…

Binders, Guest Posts, Inspiration

Mirror, Mirror

August 17, 2015

By Anna Quinn

I want to write about the visceral dissonance my head and gut absorb each day as I scroll through images on social media—the pumpkin martini recipes and beheadings in Iran and cute cat videos and acid thrown in children’s faces and new iPhones and thousands of faceless bodies—women, children and men blown to bits, continents away. I want to write about the strange juxtaposition of these things and try to make meaning of it.

But what I really want to write about is that recent video floating around Facebook—maybe you’ve seen it—the one where women are in a department store, and one by one they look into a mirror, and the mirror begins to talk to them and the mirror asks each woman how they feel about themselves and the women don’t feel so great—one turns her head away, another feels like a dog, another shrugs. Then, the mirror gives the women personalized examples from their friends and families of how they are an inspiration to others, how they are so beautiful on the outside and inside. The mirror says things like, You’re beautiful! You’re enough! And when the mirror says this—You’re beautiful! You’re enough! the women’s eyes well up and a couple of them cry. I watch the way the eyes and mouths and bodies of these women soften and release, and I cry too, because of what it means to be human.

But what I really want to write about is how, in my messy conflicted mind, when I place myself in front of the talking mirror, the mirror shouts, “There’s no fucking way you’re enough!” and I know the mirror doesn’t say this because I’m ugly or worthless or broken. I know the mirror says this because it knows I can’t possibly be enough when fucking courageous as hell journalists are getting their heads chopped off while I fall asleep in a queen-sized bed with Garnett Hill flannel sheets, and one in four children are on food stamps while I’m at Trader Joe’s questioning whether or not the spinach is really organic, the salmon really wild, when mothers and fathers with babies wrapped tight to their chests fight to cross murderous borders, fight to find Safety while I fight to lose that last ten pounds.

But what I really want to write about is how, when I get like this, some of my friends say things like; for god’s sake, Anna, settle the fuck down. You’re so intense. What’s with all the guilt! Stop apologizing for stuff. You are right where you need to be. Focus on all those positive vibrations! Don’t take yourself so seriously. We’re just a speck in the universe! Continue Reading…

Guest Posts

When Love is a Prayer Only Partially Answered

August 17, 2015

By Laura Kiesel

The love of my life so far was not the man I spent nearly a decade of my life with, from my early twenties through my early thirties–the one who went with me to my mother’s memorial service and then only a few months later stood beside me by my grandmother’s deathbed and then held my hand at her funeral. It wasn’t the man who accompanied me to surgery and then fainted while watching a nurse prick me with a needle for a blood sample, sending an army of medical staff into the room who collectively shoved me off my gurney so they could place my unconscious boyfriend there and feed him oxygen.

No, the love of my life was not the man who told me in the sunset year of our relationship that he would never marry me and from whom I finally moved on.

The love of my life was instead the man who picked me up from my grandfather’s funeral five months later one balmy August afternoon in eastern Long Island.

It was my grandparents who really raised me, so essentially my grandfather was my last true parent. He was also the only one who partook in my rearing who never called me a curse word or raised a hand to me, the one who made sure I never starved.

After the rest of the funeral procession left, I sat alone on a stone bench in a lacy black dress with a sweetheart neckline that was slightly too sultry for a funeral, but that I couldn’t resist wearing to impress the man I had spent so many years pining after. I knew my grandfather wouldn’t have minded. He had always been very fond of Brian, referring to him as my “very nice gentleman friend.”

I hadn’t spoken to Brian in about eight years. It was my ex who unwittingly brought Brian back to me, by finding and returning an old journal of mine that had been slated for the recycling bin after I moved out of the apartment we shared for several years. Scribbled in the back of that journal was Brian’s old address, his parent’s address. I sent a postcard in the mail and three days later he called me.

We started speaking on the phone again every night, as though no time had passed. Brian begged me to visit him, but I didn’t think I could find the time, nor was I sure it was a smart idea. Yet very soon after, as if my grandfather had willed our reunion himself, he died and was buried in the veteran’s cemetery the next town over from where Brian lived.

Brian and I met my senior year at college shortly after he transferred in as a junior. In him, I instantly recognized something kindred. We were both foreigners even in our native towns, individuals marked by melancholy, our souls too soft to take society’s callousness for any extended period. Yet every time I dropped heavy hints about my feelings, Brian evaded me or changed the subject, making it clear he didn’t share them.

Instead, I forced myself to focus on men who actually returned my romantic affections, eventually losing my virginity to someone else that year. But even then, Brian was the one I would always write bad poetry about when I returned to my dorm room.

Brian and I actually didn’t become very close until I had already finished school.

The summer after I graduated from university I was caught up in some sort of surreal post-partum. Having given birth to a Bachelor’s degree and not knowing what I should do next, I instead sulked around the small college town singing my post-BA blues to anyone who would listen. But Brian’s ear was the one I sought out the most, in his little shack on campus where he signed out tennis rackets to posh post-grads for his summer job. I would visit him almost every day, sitting for hours on a metal folding chair and sweating inside that little shack as it baked under the searing July sun. During that time we also traded books and CDs, and talked about our fears and frustrations, about what we wanted for our futures.

When fall arrived, I decided to postpone my plans to move to Massachusetts until after the New Year. Brian and I spent many mornings and evenings at the diner those months, devouring pancakes and milkshakes, with him always picking up the tab with his father’s credit card. At night, we would joyride into the mountains and back into the village and then sit parked in his car, sharing stories with our faces backlit by streetlamps and an icy sliver of moon.

It was Brian who helped me move my meager belongings from New Paltz to Amherst. After he finished bringing my heavier stuff into my new apartment we sat side by side in his Jeep where he sighed sadly.

“I can’t believe you’re really leaving me,” he said.

But he did not ask me to stay.

I was worried the distance would cause our friendship to fade, but we became even closer after my move, our daily talks on the phone as much a given as the sun rising. He called them his creature comfort and later on, when his depression became so bad he needed to move back home and go on heady mix of medication, he said it was one of the few things that kept him sane.

The first time he told me he loved me (as a friend, of course), we had already known each other for over two years. He sang Sea of Love over the phone to comfort me while I wept bitterly over a rejection from a PhD program.

My sobs softened to nothing. For several seconds after he finished the singing, all that could be heard over the line was the both of us breathing.

“I love you, Laurie,” he finally said.

There were only a few people in my life who had ever called me Laurie. My grandparents, a couple of close friends from high school, my ex and Brian.

When Brian pulled up to the cemetery gates the day of my grandfather’s funeral, I barely recognized him. He was over a hundred pounds heavier and had a grizzled beard. As I settled into shotgun, I felt my heart sink in my chest in disappointment. Maybe the spark inside me for him had died after all.

We drove along in relative silence until we passed a fruit stand and he asked if I wanted an apple, to which I snorted a derisive no.

“No fruit for Laurie,” he said with a wink. And then, referring to my once infamously insatiable sweet tooth: “We need some pancakes…with some fudge on them.”

I laughed for the first time since my grandfather died and immediately fell in love with him all over again.

A few nights before the funeral, Brian had called me while drunk and declared that one of his biggest regrets was that we had never dated in college, that not a week went by where he did not ponder my whereabouts and the path his life might have taken had we wound up together.

“I’m available now,” I said.

We started dating–if dating is what you can call near-nightly episodes of hushed phone sex followed by frenzied declarations of love. Considering the millions of minutes of our lives spent on the phone with each other, I suppose it’s fitting that this was how we consummated our romantic relationship. By the time he visited Boston and we finally kissed for the first time, Brian knew my desires more intimately than any other lover ever had.

In her poem Admonitions to a Special Person, Anne Sexton wrote “To love another is something like prayer and can’t be planned, you just fall into its arms because your belief undoes your disbelief.”

And so it was with us: I submitted more fully to the force of our love than I ever had to anything. Continue Reading…

Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts, Jen Pastiloff, Jen's Musings

You’re Enough. Don’t Be An Asshole & Go Forgetting That.

August 16, 2015
Join Jen Pastiloff at one of her Girl Power Workshops or On being Human Workshops by clicking here.

By Jen Pastiloff

As you know if you follow me on social media or come to my workshops etc, I am very passionate about my latest project: Girl Power: You Are Enough. And yes, the book is on the way. Stay tuned for more on that front.

By the way, hi. It’s been a while. I’ve been busy. I’ve been in a funk. I haven’t been writing. I’ve been this, that, the other thing, what does it matter- when I am not writing or creating I am dead inside, and I am tired of feeling dead inside so here I am. Hi.

I am ready to be back. I just finished my friend Rene Denfeld’s book The Enchanted and it is one of the best books I HAVE EVER READ IN MY ENTIRE LIFE SO I MUST SCREAM. Read it now.


I was inspired after reading The Enchanted so I: a) fell as asleep with a highlighter on my bed and ruined my sheets even as I said, “Jen, don’t fall asleep with a highlighter open because you will ruin your sheets. b) Dreamt of creating and enchantment. c) woke up and ate some weird salad because I am on a cleanse, not like you care but hey, my blog, my rules and this is my 8th day with no coffee or booze. Yay, me! This is big for me as someone who exists in extremes and knows no moderation. d) Decided to write to you. Are you there? Hi.

So, my latest project is basically my workshop I do but specifically designed for young women. To remind them that they are enough and that they do have a voice. (Same goes for all of us. Duh.) It is an empowerment workshop. It is a workshop about embracing fear and letting go of what “they” think, and basically, remembering that you are a motherf*cking superstar. (We all are. Unless you are an asshole. Don’t be an asshole* see footnote.) It launches next month in Princeton on September 19 (must be at least 13) followed by NYC the next day on September 20th (must be 16 for that one due to studio policy.) There will be some yoga (no experience required, just as in my regular workshops.) I use the yoga as a vehicle to get the participants more open and vulnerable. To release their armor, as it were. You have to bring a journal and an open heart and a sense of humor (as always.) And your badass self. So, if you have any daughters or your friends do, or neighbors, or you yourself, please sign up. If you cannot afford it, I have a few tickets to give away from beautiful women who have sponsored you to go. Lara Heimann will co-lead the workshop with me and my first ambassador, Justine Clifton will give a little chat. This is my passion right now and I am here on my bed, on a hot summer day, begging you, wait, let me get on my knees, I AM ON MY KNEES, begging you to help me with this on all fronts. This work is important.

highlighted sheets.

highlighted sheets.

Justine Clifton

Justine Clifton


Book Girl Power: You Are Enough now! A workshop for girls and teens. Space is limited. Sep 19 Princeton! Sep 20th NYC. The book is also forthcoming from Jen Pastiloff.

Book Girl Power: You Are Enough now! A workshop for girls and teens. Space is limited. Sep 19 Princeton! Sep 20th NYC. The book is also forthcoming from Jen Pastiloff.

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Grief, Guest Posts

Johnny Cash, Eve, Me, That One Guy, and Maybe You

August 5, 2015
photo 3

By Nick Belperio

The statue was naked, and I was nine, and the first thing I thought was, Her privates are out in public.   In the hush of the art museum, I snickered like someone much younger, like a seven-year old.   Mom squeezed my hand, nodding at a small plaque on the pedestal.

“Can you read that, honey?”   The first word was easy.

“Eve,” I said and sounded out the rest.  “Dis…con…SOLE…eight?”

“Disconsolate,” she corrected, emphasis on the second syllable.

“What’s that mean?”

Mom regarded the statue for a long moment:  Eve towered over us, her smooth face pitched heavenward, a serpent twining her ankle.   “More than sad,” she said.

“Why’s she so sad?” I wanted to know.

“She was thrown out of paradise.  Cast out forever, along with her husband.  That’s why.”

I looked it up when we got home:  Adj., without solace or consolation; hopelessly unhappy.  Mom was right:  more than sad.   Nine year-old me shrugged, filing it away with the other big words I knew that no one ever used.

It came back to me thirty-some years later, during a typically sclerotic Los Angeles rush hour.  As I inched homeward on Pico Boulevard, I glanced in my rearview mirror:  the driver of the SUV behind me was crying.  Really crying.  White man in a suit, early fifties I guessed, and in the grip of a strenuous bout of weeping.  A woman in the passenger seat offered him tissues and awkward half-hugs, but he looked beyond comfort.  This guy was distraught.  Keeping my eyes on traffic was nearly impossible.

He bawled openly, his face red and contorted, the mouth gaping; every once in a while, you’ll see an infant wail with such abandon, but a stranger?  An adult?   Never:  It seemed extravagant, to give yourself up to sorrow so fully, a luxury somehow, and also unseemly:  this level of sadness usually insists on strict privacy.  He’s losing it, I thought.  Why doesn’t he pull over?  Doesn’t he know people can see him?

And that’s when the word first returned to me.  Presented itself, fully-formed:

Disconsolate, in my mother’s soothing voice.   Ah, yes.  Disconsolate, adj.:  illustrated—dramatized, in fact—right here in my rearview.  I watched greedily, until I turned my corner and left them.  I don’t remember the make of his SUV, or its color, or the color of his hair; but the anguish on that guy’s face, how pure and unmitigated it was, has never left me.   That I remember.  I recognize it, now that I’m in my fifties.

Aging, it seems, is an accumulation:  of years and then decades, of course; of knowledge and experience, sure; of grudges and injustices and mysterious bruises, certainly.   Sometimes aging brings wonder—Can you believe we’re in our fifties? my friends and I whisper incredulously.  We’re officially middle-aged!—and sometimes a kernel or two of wisdom.  Always, though—always—it brings loss of some sort; we know this.  Losses come, and sometimes they multiply; adulthood stacks sadnesses and disappointments like firewood out back.   Look at your friends.  Look at mine. Continue Reading…

Binders, Grief, Guest Posts

I Never Expected to Grieve for My Mother

June 26, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Elin Stebbins Waldal

Lined up in the garage as if they are expecting us still are the dining room chairs of my youth. In all there are five. Yet now, as if in a dream, I see eight.

Eight wood chairs—each pushed under an antique table that, if you were not seated in the middle where the leaves met, touched the tops of your legs—three chairs on each side and one at either end.

But today there are five.

I close my eyes as if blocking the image of them here in the garage of my grown-up-life will erase the reality that these chairs equal in number those of us in my family of origin who are living.

There never were eight of us all at once.

One of the chairs stood empty. Empty in a way that occupied the space around me and shaped the backdrop of my growing up.

“Pain engraves a deeper memory,” Anne Sexton once said. As deep as an ocean I think with eyes still shut, my hands feeling their way across the faux bamboo back of a 19th Century chair.

The tips of my fingers search the woven thrush of the seat, the feel of which belies the hardness my butt once endured. I can almost feel the imprint of the thrush on the backs of my legs, traces of hours spent belly-up to the table bathed in candle light and the cacophony of voices, forks on dinner plates, and the occasional ring of the phone.

It seemed we were always at dinner—or at least the punctuated moments I remember best were at that table. Mealtime gatherings that spread out over hours, as opposed to the meals of today often swallowed while driving home from children’s games to this very garage. Continue Reading…

Don't Be An Asshole Series, Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, Jen Pastiloff, Jen's Musings

I Can Grab My Belly Fat & Make It Talk. I Am Enough. PS- This Shit Is Hard.

June 25, 2015

By Jen Pastiloff

Hi! Gotta make this quick because I am packing to leave for Italy. I am leading a retreat there starting Saturday. I am not packed and I leave in two hours. I rule.

So, the demons have been back lately. I have been struggling. Who knows why? Free floating anxiety, not-so free floating, the kind that latches on and pulls me down real low to the earth, the kind that sits on my chest and won’t get off like a little bitch. Even when I call it a little bitch, it won’t get off. I have been watching Orange is The New Black and I’m all prisony. And yea, I too have a crush on the new girl on it. Ruby Rose. But I also have a crush on Pennsatucky and Black Cindy and Poussey and Taystee. And the whole show. I want to marry it! I am five years old. I love it so much that I want to marry it.

Anyway, the little bitch that is anxiety won’t get off my chest so my breathing is shallow and  I feel ungrounded, like I am floating, except that sounds kind of nice, and anxiety is not nice, so less like floating and more like a walking dead person. A walking panicky dead person. I hide it well. Probably not, actually. Ask any of my friends who get crazy texts from me.

In case you are new to my blog or my work, I had a severe eating disorder. It still haunts me at times. Anorexia and over-exercising. Like 5 hours a day exercising. Meh. (I probably could do that again if I could watch Orange is The New Black the whole time but nah. Gross.)

I posted this video on my instagram and challenged women (and men if they want to play too) to post a picture or video of their body using the hashtag #iLovemybody and #girlpoweryouareenough. My friend Maggie tweeted me this:
@JenPastiloff I think she’s just saying that you are awesome to accept yourself exactly as you are, when she can’t do the same.

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