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Birthday

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

Getting Older is Everything. Don’t Believe The Lies. A Message To Young Women on Jen Pastiloff’s Bday.

December 12, 2015

By Jen Pastiloff
For as much as I talk about telling the truth, I still get butterflies when sharing my age. My friend Michelle Filgate had an essay in Buzzfeed yesterday about how she used running to treat depression and then she got injured. She interviewed me and it said, Jen Pastiloff, 40 years old, and I sat up and had a moment where I thought how could they have gotten that wrong? I am so not 40 years old.

But I was. Yesterday.

Today, I am 41.

It mortifies my mother-in-law that I tell people how old I am. Especially here in LA, we are not “supposed to” do that.

Youth is a commodity! You’re not “supposed to” age!
I call bullshit.

Continue Reading…

Birthday, Compassion, Guest Posts, Holidays, love

Happy Birthday, Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

November 11, 2015

By Jane O’Shields-Hayner

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Mother Night

Happy Birthday, Kurt.

This is the second letter I have written to you, and it comes twenty-six years past the first. Thank you so very much for writing me back, that long time ago, and thank you for the self-portrait. It’s a treasure.

You would have been ninety-two this November eleventh. The world has missed you for these eight years you have been gone, and so have I.

I was sick when I wrote you in nineteen eighty-nine, and didn’t know how much longer I might remain in this earth orbit, rotating, with you, around our sun.  Expressing thankfulness to the people who had encouraged and inspired me seemed a timely act. You were the first on my list and I didn’t get to number two.

I began reading your books after seeing you on the stage of Landreth Hall at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. It was my birthday in nineteen-eighty-four.  I was an art major earning a teaching degree with an English minor.  You wrote on a blackboard, diagraming the shapes of stories on a graph, and comparing to each other. Tall and lanky, you paced across the stage, pointing at the board with your long fingers protruding from the cuffs of your tweed jacket. You lectured like our English teacher, not the acclaimed Kurt Vonnegut, the “Primal Scream” of the Peacenik” generation. In conclusion, you demonstrated that William Shakespeare was as good at telling stories as any Arapaho. That was my first laugh at your sly, impudent jokes. A sharper wit never graced that stage, nor did a greater humanitarian.

I didn’t die. I learned to live with what would chronically ail me, and I went forward with life, with a growing family and the help of modern chemistry. You and I have this in common: the clear realization of biochemistry’s role in who we are and how we live.

Thank you for updating me on your son, Mark. I knew Mark, back in the days when we were crusading for orthomolecular medicine together and it’s use in treating mental illness as a disease, not an emotional state caused by bad mothers and such. Mark wrote a good memoir about his trip in and out of schizophrenia called The Eden Express. It was also a book about our generation, and personal to me, because much of his story was my story, too.

Mark believed that orthomolecular medicine saved his life, and I believed it saved my first husband’s life as well. We spoke in schools, prisons, even before state legislatures, asking that they take orthomolecular treatment to their populations. In the end, we all found it less of a Eureka phenomenon than we had once believed, but many people were greatly helped, and it got the psychiatric medical community’s attention, which led to major advances in understanding and treating mental illness. Continue Reading…

Birthday, Guest Posts, Self Love

Happy Birthday To Me

December 22, 2014

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By Ellyn Oaksmith

I don’t know why I picked 47. Maybe, just maybe, I am getting wiser. This was the year I made my birthday about love. All kinds of love: sisterly, romantic and that most important love, that shores up women approaching the rocky shoals of middle age: my friends. My sister kicked it off by quietly asking me if she could throw a mid-week gathering for me. Wine and cake, six o’clock to eight o’clock. At first my mind scrolled through a list of motherly duties: homework patrol, soccer, carpool, piano lessons, riding lessons… How could I carve out time on a weeknight to drink wine with my girlfriends?

It was as easy as saying “Yes.” Keeping the guest list small was easy: it would just be a small group of women with many connections: book group, volunteering at the school, our children, all living on the same suburban hill. My sister baked a cake and opened wine. There would be cheese and crackers for those who would miss dinner. She’d keep it simple. I was surprised at how excited I was. Little did I know the reserves of joy this gathering would unleash.

Each day I logged onto the Evite.com to see who had responded, my heart warming with each yes. By the weekend every single woman who had been invited was coming. I was Sally Fields at the Academy Awards. “You love me. You really love me.” My inner eleven year old, terrified that no one would come to her party, was silenced. Bring on the cupcakes.

My birthday was on a Sunday, the party, the Wednesday before. By Monday I was aglow, smiling at strangers, buying treats for my kids at the grocery store, paying attention to the things I love about my husband, enjoying dinner together instead of living for lights out. I was Gene Kelley in “Singing in the Rain,” spinning my umbrella over my shoulder, enjoying the slap of raindrops on my face. Did I mention that I live in Seattle?

Continue Reading…

Birthday, Guest Posts, love

FIFTY-EIGHT AND COUNTING.

December 20, 2014

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By Lesléa Newman.

I have been waiting all my life to turn 58.

Well, not all my life exactly. Just the last 48 years, ever since I turned ten. That was the year my best friend, Vicki brought over a wooden Ouija Board with the alphabet, the numbers zero through nine, and the words “yes,” “no,” “hello” and “goodbye” painted on it in bold black script. I still remember the day we sat cross-legged on the carpet of my bedroom facing each other with the board and our future between us. We asked the Ouija Board typical ten-year-old-girl questions: Would we get married? (Yes for both of us which proved correct: Vicki married a handsome man named David and I married a handsome woman named Mary). Would we have children? (Yes for Vicki who happily raised three magnificent children; no for me, who happily raised a pride of magnificent cats). And then bravely and stupidly I asked the Ouija Board: “How old will I be when I die?

Vicki and I held our fingertips lightly against the wooden heart-shaped marker as it slid across the board slowly, stopping first at the “five” and then at the “seven.” “Fifty-seven,” I crowed, thrilled to learn I’d live to a ripe old age. At the time, fifty-seven seemed beyond ancient. Why, my mother wasn’t even that old! It was 1965 which meant that I wouldn’t turn 57 until 2012, a year that sounded so far off and futuristic, it couldn’t possibly ever arrive.

I don’t remember ever consulting the Ouija Board again. But I do remember how its premonition popped into my head when death almost came to call. I was home alone slicing a leftover baked potato into rounds to fry up for breakfast. I popped a piece into my mouth without thinking about it until it landed flat across the top of my windpipe, sealing it tight as the lid on a canning jar. But I’m not 57 yet, I thought as I leapt up, raced to a neighbor’s house and frantically pounded on her door. After my neighbor performed the Heimlich maneuver, and the piece of potato flew out whole and landed with a splat against the wall, I thanked her and calmly strolled home, as if she had just given me a cup of tea instead of the rest of my life. She didn’t understand how I could remain so unrattled. But I was only 23. According to the Ouija Board, I still had 34 years to go.

Over the years, there were other brushes with death: a car accident here, a bumpy flight there. And then there was that time when I foolishly followed an electrician’s advice and stuck a raw potato into the socket of a broken overhead lamp to see if the switch was on or off. It was on, the potato sparked and fried, and I almost did, too (what is it about me and potatoes?).

And then I turned 57.

Continue Reading…

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

It Was All A Dream.

December 16, 2014

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By Jen Pastiloff.

So last night I was waiting to board my flight at JFK.

It was a long day. We (hubby and I) had taken the bus Sunday morning from NYC to New Jersey, after my “birthday that never ends” celebration. I had never done that before- really let myself be loved like that. It was also the first time I traveled that wasn’t work related in ages.

It felt good.

It was the first time my husband came back east with me and met many of my friends and my family and got to see where I was from. We have been married 5 years this coming February and it was the first time he has come back with me, so it was special.

On my actual birthday, I saw one of my dearest friends, Laura Donnelly, shine on Broadway in The River. I sat there and watched someone whose dream was realized- she was onstage in this gorgeous red dress and she sang and I thought,”This is my friend. This is my people.”

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And I teared up. Because, Fuck yeah! She did it!

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I hung out with Hugh Jackman on my birthday. <<< Yea, that’s kind of amazing. I could probably stop this blog with that line. “I hung with Hugh on my birthday.” I sound like an asshole. Don’t be an asshole, Jen.

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Eff that. I shall be an asshole. I hung with Hugh on my birthday. And he is just as lovely as you would imagine. Kind and funny and generous and present and humble.

I’m getting back to the JFK bit, bear with me.

I hung with Hugh Jackman and drank tequila with him and he made a “don’t be an asshole” video with me and then my friends took me to the fanciest dinner I have ever had in my life- 7 courses at Jean-Georges. In true NY fashion, we didn’t start eating until midnight. And there were copious amounts of wine. And dessert.

I spent the following evening at Viceroy New York (thank you for the champagne!) with so many of my beloved friends, some since childhood. And my husband. And my agent came. And I was in NY! My first roommate from NYU came. My friend Tanya (owner of tanya-b clothing line, who organized Saturday’s party and who I am flying out to NYC to do a photo shoot for on Jan 12) gave me a candle with a Biggie Smalls quote on it. It said, “It was all a dream.”

I had the candle in my pocket and I thought, it was all a dream.

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Who’s to say which is the dream and which is real life? I sometimes wonder this.

One time, when I was leading a retreat at Kripalu (were you worried I was going to say, One time, at band camp…?) I was getting a massage and I said to the woman, “I don’t want to go back to real life.” She said, “This is real life. This. Here. Now.”

And I thought about how she was right. Maybe that’s not even what she said. I was in massage-land but she said something to the effect of letting the fantasy part feel “real.” Because me? I always worry that the other shoe is about to drop. This is going to end. I have to go back to real life and real life is bad and messy and painful and something always hurts. This is going to end- I always think that. And yet- it will. It all ends.

But letting go of the idea that just because something good happens to me or for me or I am happy means that something awful is waiting is some straight up bullshit.

I went to bed happy.

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Jen Besser of Putnam Books,.

Jen Besser of Putnam Books.

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10329081_10152408181261114_582759848883491258_nThe next morning Robert and I took the bus to New Jersey so we could drive to Delaware with my mom and visit Benny in the hospital. Those of you new to my page, Benny is a little boy my family and I have fallen in love with, who has Prader Willi Syndrome like my nephew Blaise. He is legally blind and just had a terrible accident that has left him paralyzed. Benny loves princesses.

For my birthday, I knew that the one thing I wanted more than anything was to meet him.

So I made that happen.

We drove to Delaware bearing the gifts (all princess stuff) that people had given us for Benny. People like you who have never met him but have been following his story. Someone brought me a present to my NYC birthday party for Benny. It was the greatest gift. Made me cry. She said she had gone to FAO Shwartz and that she “had no idea princesses were so confusing.” People can be so good when they aren’t being assholes. (Myself included.)

This little boy is such a warrior.

I won’t lie- I have been struggling with understanding why some people have to have so much pain in their lives? This kid has so much with having Prader Willi (google it, it sucks) and being blind. And now, he is fucking paralyzed? I wish I had a greater faith in times like this. I’d say, “Take me!! Take me!” but truly, I am not sure who I would be saying that to. How much can one little boy take??

And then this, in Pakistan this morning as I was posting this blog. All these children. Why? Why? Fists to the sky! Why!

Continue Reading…

Awe & Wonder, Birthday, There Are No Words To Describe This

Heartwarming Amazing Video On My Birthday!

December 12, 2013

Hello there! Today is my birthday and this is the best gift ever! You all helped raise the money to get my nephew Blaise, who has Prader Wili Syndrome and autism, his service dog. Here is Blaise with Simba. “My doggy, my baby!” Blaise says. It’s just too cute. Thank you all so much. Thanks to Dogwish for Simba. For more on Prader Willi click here. 

Please share and comment on this video on Youtube so people know how much is possible through social media, and, how important service dogs and animals are 😉

Birthday, Delight, Guest Posts

Top 10 Life Lessons Learned In My 48 Years by Lynn Hasselberger.

May 1, 2013

I woke up today and…voilà! I’m 48 years old.

Born in the middle of the night, two weeks late, I violently entered the world at nine and a half pounds with a huge pile of dark hair on my head. (I got stuck, my mom hemorrhaged and, well, we’re all still alive to talk about it).

Gaping at the large feet and hands attached to this red thing that was supposed to be a baby, my mom was convinced that I was going to be a replica of my six foot one, large-boned aunt (sister to my dad, who is small boned).

My parents couldn’t agree on a name, so I remained nameless for a day or two. Referred to as the baby or, more hopefully, “Baby.” (I need to ask more questions about this fact that I learned only a holiday or two ago after my mom drank one glass of wine too many. Sorry, mom, this is my story. And it’s actually pretty humorous. I’m not trying to call you out as a bad mom).

Eventually they agreed upon Lynn. My dad’s name is E. Leonard and, at the time, they called him Lenny (the  initial “E” for  Elmer, so Lenny was definitely the better choice).

In my early years, family referred to me as Lynn Anne. Later, you can imagine the confusion. If you can’t, allow me to explain: Lenny got older and became Len. I didn’t like to be called Lynn Anne, so, thusly (I’ve always wanted to use that word in one of my posts!) I morphed into Lynn. During my teen years, when people phoned for my dad and I answered, trouble ensued. “Is Len there?” they would ask, pronouncing my dad’s name as (you guessed it!) Lynn. “This is Lynn,” I would say. “No Len!” They’d insist, still pronouncing my dad’s name as Lynn.

To top it off, I have an Aunt Lynne and a cousin Linda. Hey, it was almost worse. I could have been Cressie—my grandma (my  dad’s mom) wanted them to name me after her deceased sister Cressida.

So, I’ve never been a big fan of my name. Except when it turns into Lynnie, a nickname that some friends use on too rare an occasion.

Forty-eight years later—my baby fat dispersed properly with the exception of my knees where it seems to collect—I am who I am today. Lynn Hasselberger. (Side note: Just a few days ago, I celebrated my 20th anniversary. Before marriage, I was plain old Lynn Johnson. I could not wait to get married in order to jazz up my boring name. When I met my husband, I immediately thought: Nope, he’s not the one. I mean, Hasselberger?)

I’ve survived many struggles—from eating disorders and infertility… to (gulp) infidelity—and enjoyed quite a few triumphs, blessings and overall good times.

I’m wiser now (quite possibly, most of that wisdom came during the last eight years) and am learning to accept the fact that I’m aging. A fact I found difficult to accept only two years ago.

Enough about me! Here are the ten top things I learned so far:

1. Rich or poor, happiness comes from within. I’ve struggled with finances along the way (and still today after my husband’s two and a half year unemployment—he’s been working for over a year now!—unexpected medical expenses and the investment into my business that was never and never will be returned, and that we’re still paying off) and enjoyed “better” times when we were both working full time, each making six figures. I wasnot happier when we had more money, but we were able to eat out a lot, travel… and when something in the house broke we could fix it immediately with the only stress being which contractor to choose.

I’m happy for the most part right now. Give me some more money and my shoulders will soften, we’ll sleep easier and we can finally take that real family vacation that doesn’t require camping at someone’s house. A slight tick in happiness will probably occur but can only be sustained with what’s in our hearts.

And if we start making oodles of money, we’d be smarter with it. I wouldn’t buy that $250 pair of shoes (they lasted more than 10 years, so you could say it was a good buy) but I would treat myself to a massage and cleaning service weekly.

2. We have to accept ourselves, not try to be what other people think we should be. Over the years I’ve heard that I have to calm down my hair, my lips are too thin, I’m too thin, I need to loosen up and get out more (okay, I’d like to change that about myself), I’m too quiet, I should be this or that.

I’ve also imagined what others might think of me and what they think I should be. And tried to fit in. Not wild enough? Not fun enough? Not smart enough? Not pretty enough? Not successful enough?

Source: google.com via Kelly on Pinterest

I used to try to prove I was those things in order for others to like me more.

But now I think: So the f*ck what? I am me. If you don’t like me as I am, move along. Nothing to see here.

Or deal with this:

I’m not a big fan of large groups and big, loud parties. My hair is at times frizzy or just tossed into a ponytail. I can be quirky. I  don’t watch reality shows. I find it important to continue to learn and be open-minded. I do the best and love as much as I can and forgive you no matter what (unless you kill my cat or do something even more heinous, but even then…). I will  show off my big ugly feet with their weird long monkey toes and even paint them a crazy color on occasion. I will get stressed at laundry. I will run outdoors as long as my legs and body will cooperate. I will mostly eat healthy food. I will tell you if I’m feeling low or about what bugs me. I will utter non sequitors often. I will wear my pj’s some days when I work at home and occasionally nag. I will be quiet at times. I will be cautious if I don’t know you well enough yet. I will stop at one or two drinks. I like to be in bed reading by 9 p.m. I will turn down your invitation sometimes not because I don’t appreciate you but because I simply feel like hanging out at home because I’m just worn out. My house will not be spotless and I can’t guarantee shaved armpits on a daily basis. I’m spiritual but not into organized religion and you’ll never witness me squashing a spider. I’m a tree hugger and believe humans are accelerating climate change by emitting more carbon into the atmosphere than the oceans and vegetation can absorb, throwing off they way the climate system would work without our interference. And unless you’re a climate scientist, you can’t convince me otherwise. I voted for Obama.

And I’m okay with that. If you’re not, then so be it.

Source: Uploaded by user via Elizabeth on Pinterest

3. Aging isn’t bad. It’s a badge of honor. Every day we wake up is truly amazing. I have to admit, I tried “filler” on my face a couple years ago. I was a) trying to mask the horizontal lines that were forming around my lips and b) at battle with my thin lips. Since they were already poking me with a painful needle, I allowed them to fill in the crease above my chin and soften my laugh lines. The changes made me feel more attractive (after all the nasty swelling and bruising vacated my face) but didn’t make me feel any happier.

I was in a mid-life freak out zone at the time. Thanks to my husband’s layoff, my adventure into unnatural fillers was put to an end.

We’re all getting older. That means wrinkles, getting tired faster and finding long hairs in weird places. In preparation for the years ahead, I’m learning to embrace these facts. Although I’m a bit concerned about howmenopause will tamper with my mood and wreak havoc in other unknown ways.

Self-disclosure: I cover my grays, though, and that’s something I haven’t found the courage to walk away from. It may take me another 10 years or more. But definitely, by 70, I will let my hair go.

P.S. Fillers and hair coloring are not good for us or the planet. I am admittedly not a 100 percent flawless tree hugger.

4. Holding onto anger is worse than whatever caused the anger in the first place. It ages us and wastes our energy. Forgiveness is key.

Source: Uploaded by user via Lynn on Pinterest

5. When sh*t happens, you’ll know who your true friends are. How? Because they’ll still be around. And if they disappear, it’s probably for the best. (A couple years ago, I told a person I considered a good friend that I was feeling depressed. I never heard from her again. She didn’t return my messages and even disconnected from me on LinkedIn!)

Absorb the goodness your friends (and even your enemies) have to offer while they’re in your life… you’ll be better for it.

Source: via Tanith on Pinterest

6. Exfoliation is important.
Not only are my feet f*ckin’ ugly, they’re dry. It wasn’t until sometime after college that I learned about pedicures and exfoliation. I treat myself to a pedicure at the turn of every season and otherwise exfoliate my feet right here in the comfort of my own home. I also exfoliate the rest of my fine self with loofah during most showers. Afterward, I apply raw shea butter mixed with an essential oil. Quite the process and not something I have time for every day, believe me!

On a more positive note, I appreciate my feet. Although they can’t dance and are often clutzy, they have served me well all these years. I think they, in turn, appreciate the exfoliation.

7. I am not meant to drink more than two drinks. I try to tell this to people when they say, “Oh come on, have fun! Have another drink. Live a little.” (Who knew peer pressure would live on past the age of 15?) Believe me, by avoiding a third drink, I  will have more fun tomorrow and the next day. Drinking one drink is actually enough. And to think, back in college and into my twenties, I partied hard most days of the week. How did I graduate, much less survive? Now drinking just makes me sleepy and wakes me up in the middle of the night.

8. I don’t have to do anything.

This has been my new mantra for the last few days ago and I hope I always remember it. I had been waking up anxious, thinking of all the things I had to do that day. I’d write down the top three things that really had to get done—although, honestly, the world would have carried on without me completing those things—and put all the rest on a longer list which I could pull from if I happened complete the three things and found myself looking for something to do. Invariably, all the tasks plus worries about finance and other stuff I had forgotten to put on the list would jumble around in my head and paralyze me.

Recently, my husband and I spent two nights in the city for our anniversary. It took quite a bit to get myself out the door and onto that train (we don’t do much to avoid spending money!) but once I was at the hotel, clothes put neatly away in the drawers, everything I had to do left my mind. Well, not all at once. But by day two, I was carefree. We didn’t go around the city spending money like drunken sailors. We ate and walked and took in the scene. I even gave breakfast to three homeless men.

Nothing fell apart during those two days. I had fun!

This led to an epiphany. I don’t have to do anything. I don’t have to wake up to thoughts of what I have to do that day. I don’t have to stress  about anything.

Telling myself I don’t have to do anything—a simple mind trick, similar to believing in fairies who will clean the kitchen and bathrooms in the middle of the night—has reduced my stress. And I’m more productive. My mind is clear. I’m approaching my life differently, from a place of abundance—look how full my life is! I have a family that I love, which leads to a couple of messes and extra laundry. How great is that?! How lucky am I?

I just have to follow my passion. My passion doesn’t have to be on a list.

Yes, I have responsibilities, but waking every morning with all them crashing against each other inside my skull until I can put them on a list and begin cramming them into a day just doesn’t work.

I don’t have to do anything. And my mind believes that! My anxiety? Extinguished.

I sure hope my mind doesn’t realize what I’m up to!

Source: oprah.com via Lynn on Pinterest

9. Food is fuel and medicine. Exercise makes me feel better.

It’s quite simple. I’ve written about my strange and evolving relationship with food, with self-medication disguised as a sugar tooth and eating disorder. Now I know—healthy food and exercise makes me feel better. And, please, I do eat crap once in a while including a pint of ice cream every week.

10. Time flies and every moment is a reward for this thing we call life.

Even the most unpleasant, f*cked up days are a gift.

I go through periods in my life, when it feels like time is slipping away and I feel myself grasping at it as if I could slow it down or stop it  altogether.

But squandering moments or stressing over our perceived lack of time is a waste of energy. I know this from experience. Chasing time is exhausting work!

I’ve decided this very moment to expand upon my mind trick (#8) and tell myself I have all the time I need. Ha! It’s also all the time I’ll ever have available to me. It is precious.

We need to embrace the good and the bad. After the bad, it could get worse, but then it will get better. Or… it might not. But no matter what happens, odds are in your favor that there’s someone else out there who’s experiencing something worse.

In the moments we have, we need to find a way to make a difference, no matter how small. Inspire by sharing our passions. Or simply smile at someone, wave at our neighbor, support a friend when they’re down. Sign a petition for human rights or the planet.

Be grateful for this moment. And the one that just passed.

Live the moment. Get to know it. Learn from it. For it will inevitably be whisked away before you can say “Time flies!” (By the way, time does not fly if you’re serving it.)

And then we die.

Of course I’ve learned much more. But 10 is a nice round number.

The rest I’ll leave up to your imagination.

P.S. I’m grateful to everyone in my life and I hope to enjoy many more moments with all of you.

Happy birthday to everyone!


 

Lynn Hasselberger lives in Chicagoland with her son, husband and two cats. She loves sunrises, running, yoga, chocolate, reading and writing, and has a voracious appetite for comedy. The founder of myEARTH360.com, Lynn also writes for her blog I Count for myEARTH. She’s a treehugger and social media addict who you’ll most likely find tweeting excessively and obsessively (@LynnHasselbrgr@myEARTH360and @IC4ME) or posting on facebook. She hopes to make the world a better place, have more fun, re-develop her math skills and overcome her fear of public speaking. Like her writing? Subscribe to her posts.

**This post originally appeared on Elephant Journal and is reposted here with permission.
The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for the next cleanse on Jan 11, 2016. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the holiday season. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation. Click photo to book.

The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for the next cleanse on Jan 11, 2016. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the holiday season. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation. Click photo to book.

Birthday, loss, poetry

Reconciliation.

December 6, 2012

By Jen Pastiloff.

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How shall the heart be reconciled to its feast of losses? ~ Stanley Kunitz The Layers

I read this poem often to my yoga classes and every time I get to that line I choke up. I remember going to Stanley Kunitz’ birthday party when I was a student at NYU. I think it was his 90th and it was in some kind of New Yorky basement, or maybe it was the NYU Law School. My memory of those years went up in smoke at some point. I had just decided I was a poet (it sounds so pretentious now but I really did wake up one day and decide that.) I went and had my black coffee (all I would eat for the day) and decided that I would focus on poetry, that in fact, I may be a bad poet but that I was a poet nonetheless and I had found my focus, finally. I knew why I was here in New York City. If I didn’t want to be a poet or an actor or some other ridiculous thing that was guaranteed to bring me heartache and no money than why wouldn’t I have gone to Rutgers or somewhere cheaper in New Jersey?

So yes, I would be a poet. 

I went to Stanley’s birthday party and was so touched by all the poets reading his works, except they weren’t reading them, they didn’t have to. They’d had them memorized. They were just reciting them as an act of love, an offering, an honor.

How shall the heart be reconciled to its feast of losses?

That was probably the first time I heard that line. Or maybe not. Maybe I had read it and underlined it and memorized it but it was the first time I really heard it, there in that basement or church or NYU Law Library. I was hit by the reality that I’d had a feast of losses already and I was only 19 years old.

What if kept going, I remember thinking. What if every year I lose more people and things and memories? How will I ever reconcile this? How will I survive?

I’ve reconciled some of it, as to be expected at my age.

Why do some people experience such loss, so much mass at once, while others buoy through deaths and years like they are untouchable? When really no one is. They simply haven’t been hit yet by the storm and maybe they never will until they are. And by then they will have prepared greatly. Whereas some people never get to prepare or else they spend their whole lives (or what seems to be that) preparing and yet it doesn’t make a difference. Like my dear friend Emily Rapp, whose son Ronan is dying at any moment of the fatal Tay Sachs. She was hit with no warning and no matter how much preparing and how many lifeboats she throws in his little boat, he will sink. He is un-saveable.

I’ve reconciled some but what of those I haven’t? How does the heart reconcile? Does it?

 

We move on. We get up and go and come home and pour a glass of wine, or not, but we never fully get over things. What does getting over even mean? It sounds like some kind of vengeful expression that they would make a movie out of like Die Hard. Getting Over It Part 7.

I am going to get one over on you. I am getting over. It suggests that there is something underfoot, something to be trampled on and overcome.

My heart does not want to overcome or trample on my losses but rather assimilate them into my life so I can function like a normal adult with responsibilities and schedules.

Right now I stay in pajamas unless I have to work and I worry about having a girl because how do you even braid hair? I worry about having children period.

How do you make a diorama? How do you do algebra? What if I don’t want to watch their soccer practice? 

What is a normal adult?

I know these questions are popping up because I am having a birthday in a few days and my mortality is at stake, and, as you know, my father died at the age I am turning when I was a child but still, I feel like Cinderella at the stroke of midnight. What if I don’t want the Prince?

I don’t know what I want. But this can’t be. I am a woman of a certain age. I am not young. (Yes, yes, in comparison, I am sure some of you reading are rolling your eyes and saying “Girl, you are so so young.”) But I am not. Not in baby-making years, I am not at all. Trust me on this and don’t condescend. I am young at heart and maybe young looking, but when it comes to ovaries and eggs I am meh at best.

Do I need to reconcile all my losses before I bring life into the world? Do I need to do the proverbial getting of my shit together before I make a move? What do I do? Who do I ask?

I have always fantasized about having someone to ask that would give me answers which is why it was especially devastating that my father died so young because although I am sure his answers would be fifty per cent bullshit I would take them as The Word happily and without question. (I would!)

Here I am a teacher to so many and a leader and I am searching for someone to tell me what to do. As I have written about before, the worst is deciding what to eat. Recently, in Bali, I went out to eat with a student, and, as is my way, couldn’t decide what I wanted and hemmed and hawed and changed my order and fretted. She said something to the effect of I have never seen that side of you.

This is one reason I don’t hang out with many people. What side? The pressure I feel to be somebody that always inspires, that always knows what to do and what to order and what to eat.

I don’t even know if I want a fucking baby and I am in my late late thirties.

This side of me.

So yes, there is this side of me. The side of me that doesn’t know. Who has lost a lot. Who has anxiety, still, yes. Who sometimes doesn’t leave her house and who would prefer to write than teach a yoga private and who tends to take things too personally and drinks too much coffee and gets stuck in the past and novels too.

I have reconciled those things for the most part (some I’d like to keep). But the questions are looming. (I am not looking for you to give me answers.)

I am looking to never stop asking the questions. To always look and uncover and dig and smell and retrieve and throw back.

If I stop asking the questions I die.

It may take a while for my body to die but my mind and soul and all other parts of me will wither away if the questions stop. The heart can never reconcile all of it until it stops beating.

I think that is why that line chokes me up. I know the truth behind it.

How shall the heart be reconciled to its feast of losses? It doesn’t.

Some turns to legend, some to fact, some to dust and the rest, well, the rest you bury inside of you and reach for it when you are drowning knowing it will be there. And it will.

 

All Jen Pastiloff’s events and workshops listed here.

 

Jen Pastiloff is part of the faculty this year at Other Voices Querétaro. It is a vibrant, multi-faceted writing program in Querétaro, Mexico. Focusing on both fiction and nonfiction, as well as on the ins and outs of contemporary publishing. Application: We're keeping it simple! Admission forms and letters of recommendation are not required. Please email Gina at ovbooks@gmail.com or click photo above. Also on faculty are authors Emily Rapp, Gina Frangello, Stacy Bierlein and Rob Roberge.

Jen Pastiloff is part of the faculty this year at Other Voices Querétaro. It is a vibrant, multi-faceted writing program in Querétaro, Mexico. Focusing on both fiction and nonfiction, as well as on the ins and outs of contemporary publishing. Application: We’re keeping it simple! Admission forms and letters of recommendation are not required. Please email Gina at ovbooks@gmail.com or click photo above. Also on faculty are authors Emily Rapp, Gina Frangello, Stacy Bierlein and Rob Roberge.

 

Click to order Simplereminders new book.

Click to order Simplereminders new book.

Birthday, Prader Willi Syndrome

My Birthday Request.

December 12, 2011

Dear Manifesters,

It is my birthday today and I can safely say it is the best birthday I have ever had! What would complete it is if you supported PWS research and bought a Manifestation shirt or bracelet!

My latest TinyBuddha piece got published today, of all days! Here it is.

It is called “The Future is Completely Open” and along with GMA, it is an incredible way to celebrate my birthday! (http://tinybuddha.com/blog/the-future-is-completely-open/)

Click this icon to read my birthday post on TinyBuddha.

I had Good Morning America on my vision board and yesterday we filmed my segment at Equinox South Bay during my karaoke yoga class. My interview is later today. Yes, I visualized it and it happened.

I acted AS IF.

 

A picture of my vision board that I made at my Manifestation Ojai retreat in September. See Good Morning America at bottom? (GMA)

It will air Dec 26th or 27th. I tell you as a reminder that you can manifest anything you put your attention on.

Deem yourself worthy to receive. (Took me a long time to get this one, folks. But I got it now. I am worthy!)

Thank you Wayne Dyer for teaching me that years ago! I look forward to teaching yoga at your conferences, my mentor!

All I want for my birthday is that you buy a Manifestation t-shirt or at least share the link. All money is going to charity for Prader Willi Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder my nephew has, and also to research for Tay Sachs (a fatal disease my friend Emily’s baby Ronan has.) Please consider buying or at the very least sharing and learning what these disorders/diseases are. I sent my first $500 check into the Foundation for Prader Willi Research last week and it felt so good.

You will notice on the Good Morning America segment that I am wearing a Manifestation tank and so is Cameron Mathison. Many of the class did as well and everyone wore their Manifestation bracelet. The bracelets are by donation, with a minimum of $3.

Here is link for bracelets.

Lego men manifest too! You can also get them from me in my public classes. Please post a picture of yourself wearing your bracelet declaring what you are manifestinh!

 

Here is link for tees and tanks. Please feel free to email me with questions and of course, we can ship them. Please specify if you want a tee or a tank in the message. http://www.jenniferpastiloff.com/PayPal.html 

 

My client and friend Alex Albrecht manifests with the gold shovel he got when he was on Jimmy Fallon a couple weeks ago. (Check out Alex's Voltron short that he manifested!)

Renowned yoga teacher Tamal Dodge manifests at The Yoga Collective in Santa Monica.

 

GMA correspondent and actor Cameron Mathison and I wear our Manifestation gear.

 

Thank you all for being a part of my life.

Keep manifesting your life,

one laugh at at time.

@manifestyogajen

ps, I am teaching a special birthday yoga class tonight at The Yoga Collective in Santa Monica. Feel free to join us at 8 pm. I will bring shirts and bracelets and a big hug for you.

Birthday, Delight, Prader Willi Syndrome

The Love of My Life Sings Me Happy Birthday.

December 12, 2011

Ok, ok, My hubby is also the love of my life but my nephew Blaise stole my heart when he was born. He has Prader Willi Syndrome. Please buy a Manifestation t-shirt by clicking here and support research.

My nephew Blaise and I at my wedding. Click on picture to buy a tee and support research for PWS

This video melted my heart. Enjoy. He is as sweet as they come. He gives the best hugs too.

Birthday, Delight

Horoscope.

December 9, 2011

I have started doing horoscopes. It’s awesome because I am being paid a million dollars to write them.

Ok, that is a fib but it is still awesome fun.

Here is today’s. Whatever sign you are, this is for YOU.


Horoscope for YOU today:


The words “My life is amazing” are heard in a room. You will realize they are coming from your lips.
A mirror will reflect the most beautiful person you have seen in a long long time, and although, at first, you will shake your head in disbelief, that person will be you.
You will notice, with a smile, that it feels good to like what you see in that mirror.
You will do something that scares you, and although briefly you will feel terrified, mostly you will feel good. Really good.
You will be loved more than you thought possible, for a Friday in December.
~~by Jen Pastiloff, professional horoscope maker upper

Feel free to share and create your own and send it to me to post!

PS, Good Morning America is really happening folks! This is the weekend. There are flying in to film me! You can ideed manifest whatever you put your attention on! I did.

I will let you know as soon as I know when it will air. Join me Monday night Dec 12th at my beloved home studio: the Yoga Collective for my birthday class at 8 pm. Come celebrate you and me. It is my birthday and all. 1408 3rd St Promenade, 3rd Floor. All I want is you to buy a Manifestation tee and support Prader Willi Research!

http://manifestationyoga.com/what-does-it-mean-to-own-a-manifestaion-t-shirt/

Beating Fear with a Stick, Birthday

Bucket List

December 3, 2011

I know.

Bucket List sounds like that movie. The one a few years ago with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman that you probably saw on an airplane. And it has connotations of dying.

But that’s not what I am talking about here.

At least not for me.

This post is a LIFE LETTER. A LIFE LIST. A I-am-living-this-year-and-every-year-as-if-it-is-my-last-list.

My father died at 38 years old when I was 8.

It sucked. It sill sucks. Still makes me sad but I manage to get through it by writing and laughing and teaching and doing yoga and letting myself experience what I need to daily without judgement.

Naturally, even though it was on a subconscious level,  I assumed people died at 38. I don’t think I was aware I even had this belief. But, on a cellular level, somewhere deep in the most Jennifer parts of Jennifer, I simply vanished after 37 years of age. In my imagination. I could not, for the “life” of me, visualize a future for myself.

It gave me anxiety to think about.

I have never been much of a planner. This will come as a surprise to those that know me these days, as every day is booked and I have to plan out even a year in advance for most things. I definitely didn’t get delivered from the Stork in this fashion.

Planning scared the bejesus out of me especially when it came to the future. My future.

When we are children our world revolves around us little people. It should be that way. When my father died, on some level I thought it was my fault. I was 8. It’s what we do. Just as some kids think it is their fault when their parents divorce. It’s common. It’s expected when you’re a young whippersnapper to be the center of the Universe. You are.

It’s also common to form your inherent beliefs of yourself and the world at that young age. This is fine and good, except when it isn’t.

Case in point: your father dies at age 38 and you assume that is when life ends in general.

And here I am, Dear Manifesters, about to turn 37. I’ve made it pretty far, I’d say.

So this year, the year between 37 and 38 is to be filled with life. Since my father’s life ended at 38, I am going to enter my 38th year with the most BAM and the most LIFE.

Here is my letter.

Dear Age 37,

I am very excited to meet you! I can hardly wait.

I didn’t think I would be. For a long time, up until recently even, I would lie about my age. Mainly because I was an actor, and well, that is what actors do. But I think I also lied because I was scared about getting older. My dad never got to get older, so I falsely assumed that was to be my lot in life too.

Things have changed for me in the last few years and somewhere along the way I have lost that fear. My life has gotten better and better, and in fact, you couldn’t pay me enough to go back to my 20’s. Not that you offered. I’m just saying. I am happy here. Now.

This next year will be very powerful and I just wanted to let you know I am glad you are here. I already love you very much. 

We are going to travel around the world together. We are writing a book. We are going on Good Morning America. We are teaching workshops all over the world. We are laughing more than we ever thought possible. We are thinking about having a baby soon. We will probably wait until 38 gets there though. So don’t go starting any rumors.

I know your cousins “Ages 17-31” don’t think I liked them very much because of the way I treated them. I doubt you will ever see them again, but if you do, could you apologize for me? I don’t want to go back and tell them myself, but I truly am sorry I didn’t appreciate them as I appreciate you.

You Dear 37, look so much better than I imagined you to look. I am really proud of you.

Anyway, we have 10 days until you arrive but i just wanted you to know that you are very welcome in these parts.

Oh, and one last thing. Buckle your seatbelt. It’s going to be one helluva ride! See you on December 12th!

Love, me xo 

So my “Bucket List” isn’t a list of things I will do before I kick the bucket. It is a list of things I do before I turn 38 when my dad passed and I mistakenly assumed, as child, that life ended. I am living this year as a testament to my father. As a loving memory and a G-damn party in his honor. He may not have gotten past 38 but I am making it up for him. Daily.

Watch out world.

PS, All I want for my birthday is for you to buy a Manifestation t-shirt. All money is going to charity! I am committed to finding a cure for Prader Willi Syndrome and Tay Sachs. Here is the link. Help me have a happy birthday by giving back. 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO OWN A MANIFESTATION TEE? http://manifestationyoga.com/what-does-it-mean-to-own-a-manifestaion-t-shirt/