Browsing Category


Friendship, Guest Posts, healing, Inspiration, Women

Importance of Female Friendship

October 8, 2015
Pile of hands of friends

By Nicole Baxter

I never understood the importance of having female friends until eight months ago.   Before then I didn’t think it was that important.   In fact, for years I felt that having female friends just set you up for nothing but drama and heartache.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t say this just to say it; I say it out of experience.  When I was younger, I had trusted my best friend with a traumatic event only to have her betray that trust and ultimately cause a lot of pain.   Looking back even to this day, I cannot decide if it was that betrayal that caused me more pain or the actual event.   It was then I made the decision to never allow myself to get close to another girl and hence began the wall I erected.   I could be friends with females but to trust them was entirely a different thing.   I didn’t realize then when I made that promise to myself, how the importance of having close female friendship really is.

If you were to tell me a year ago that I would once again trust and allow another female friend into my heart, that I would reveal things to her that have occurred but never told anyone (let alone things I would not even admit to myself) I would have told you that you were crazy.  I am not even sure how it started other than it happened at a time that I needed it the most.   You know the saying: people come into your life for a reason.

At first it was only little things here and there but soon I began to trust her more and more.  All of a sudden I wanted to tell her everything even though it was hard and still today hard for me.   The more I shared the more I began to see what I had been missing out on the last 20 years.  I had closed myself off to others and now with her help, guidance and love I have begun to open my heart up and everyday it is opened a little more.   She has encouraged me to go after the dreams I put off, picks me up when I get down on myself (which is a lot lately), always telling me to be to myself, and that I am powerful and enough. Continue Reading…

Addiction, Awe & Wonder, Guest Posts, healing, Inspiration


October 7, 2015

By Holly Groome

I was four months pregnant and I just left my soon-to-be ex-husband’s house. He told me he wasn’t sure he wanted to reconcile from our separation. I couldn’t drink it away. I couldn’t cut it away. I couldn’t shove my fingers down my throat again. I couldn’t even think about suicide for the second time; not with this life my husband and I created squirming inside of me.

I drove through town, as if someone had injected a grey cloud into my brain. I stopped for a milkshake, simply because. Then I drove on auto-pilot to a tattoo shop. Yes, wretched of me to get a tattoo while pregnant. But the other options to handle my pain weren’t really options.

I sat in the car with a pen and a bank deposit slip, and started numbly scribbling single words to ink into my wrist. About three words in, I had it. ENOUGH.

Twenty minutes later, my 5’1” frame allowed me to softly dangle my feet on the tattoo chair, as I sipped my milkshake like a child, hiding my newly pregnant belly. I sat there as the sweet bliss of the needle dug into my skin. It wasn’t a sick kind of pleasure. It was a relief. These six letters etched into my flesh were telling me what I had to do.

Four years later, I still get asked what the tattoo means. My answer is never the same, for it speaks to me differently, at various shifts in my life.

I smile and say, ENOUGH of the Bullshit. ENOUGH to my bulimia. I am ENOUGH. Sometimes I say all three.

Most understand me. Some almost shudder at my honesty. And some seem completely confused as if I said it in Pig Latin.

I don’t mind the reactions. It’s mine. I own it. It saved my life; literally and more than once. Continue Reading…

beauty, Guest Posts, Inspiration, Life

The Idea of Being Enough, or a Credit to My Kind

October 6, 2015
Side view of serene woman sitting on sandy beach against blue sky outdoors

By Ashley-Elizabeth Best

I am stuck in myself, indulging the constant loop of compare and contrast. Growing up poor and with a single mother of five I struggled to prove I was more, that I could be different than my family and transcend others’ assumptions about me. I’ve always been a self-improver and work tirelessly at my imperfections. There are many incidents from my childhood that have stayed with me and for a long time made me feel I could never be anything than what I was then—a tired and unhappy kid helping to raise her four younger siblings with her struggling mother.

Every Sunday we stuffed a stroller full of dirty laundry in garbage bags to push downtown to the laundry mat. To get to the laundry mat we had to pass a dental office a fellow classmate’s parents owned. Most Sundays he earned his allowance mowing the lawn in front of the practice. I’ll never forget the look on his face every time he saw us five kids and our mother pass by with our stroller, something between pity and a recognition—I know who you are and what you’ll be. So I performed the smart poor girl who has potential, but as one classmate said within my hearing once, she’s either going to get pregnant or go to university.

I measured ‘enough’ in all the wrong ways for years, for decades. I had terrible anxiety, agonized over everything I said to others—did they think what I said was stupid? Was I stupid? Can I post that on Facebook, is the grammar right, is the structure right? Was my performance making me good, making me enough? Mistakes terrified me—someone like me could not afford to make mistakes.

Everything up to my early twenties was done because of fear. When I moved away from my family to attend university, the constant fight for their survival and well being left me empty and lost. I started taking creative writing classes and slowly began to grow a feeling of possibility, that a life of my own was worth fighting for, and that maybe writing could help nurture my growing confidence and independence from my former dependents.

Years later, after school, working, serious medical problems, and constant little tragedies which have befallen my family, I am still poor, but now know I am worthy and that my life is meaningful. I have a poetry book coming out and am deeply at work on a novel. I have a life of my own despite and because of my family. I am enough for myself and my pen. It took me a long time to realize self-worth is something I could earn through self-compassion.

I do not dare to compare myself to others, I no longer look for evidence that I am inferior because of my past. I look forward knowing life is a sequence of feelings, some will last and most won’t. They are all a performance of singular parts acting as a whole in the absence of a frame. I am not a credit to my kind, I am a credit to myself. I am enough. I am. Author Photo
Ashley-Elizabeth Best is from Cobourg, Canada. Her work has been published in Fjords, CV2, Berfrois, Grist and Ambit Magazine, among other publications. Recently she was shortlisted for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry. Her first collection of poems, Slow States of Collapse is forthcoming with ECW Press. She lives and writes in Kingston.

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

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

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. NO yoga experience needed. Just be a human being.

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. NO yoga experience needed. Just be a human being.


beauty, courage, Guest Posts, healing, Inspiration

This Space

October 5, 2015
Image of happy woman with white fabric running down meadow

By Sarah Miller Freehauf

I once filled this space, this body, this dispensable cavity with food—rows of black and white cookies & TV & bedtime. I once filled this space, this body, this dispensable cavity with pills & space where no food was allowed to touch. I once ran on a treadmill for three miles in this space, this body, this dispensable cavity. I moved 200 pounds of this space, that body. After—a man came to me with a smile and asked how many miles did you just run? A man came to me with disbelief and asked how many miles I just carried that big space, that big body, that big dispensable cavity.

My mother used to say you better watch it. My father used to tap and smack our bellies and call us belly-women and I hated him in that moment though loved him deeply every other. My brother used the toothbrush more often than I did. My brother used to feel the praise of coaches and mother and father on how he was trim and good and how that boy body was all Midwestern man. My brother was worse off than I. He ate salad, he dispensed it, he ate salad, he moved his large baby fat ridden teen body until some man at the gym said something to him in disbelief—something that sounded like you are good.

I kept running and moving that space of mine and eating things of the earth and everyone in disbelief said how many miles did you just run? How many pounds did you manage to rid? Everyone in disbelief including the man at the gym and our father and my brother—skinny and in shape and everyone proud of him—everyone in disbelief asked how many miles and pounds did that space, that body, that dispensable cavity rid?

And then because that space is dispensable, because of shame, because of fat stored in a place that it is supposed to be, because everyone in their disbelief—I cut my chest. I let a man cut my chest, I let a man remove, in his disbelief, eleven pounds of fat. I let everyone say in disbelief—your body looks better, looks good, looks healthy, looks small. And this body still has the anchor scars and the cookie scars and rotted esophagus to prove that all the disbelief was believable.

And now I run and men watch. And now I run and my mother says good. And now I eat things of the earth and others say how.

Now—I run. I move my body, my space, my figure, my form and most days it is still not enough. But my body moves and that is good. The moving is mostly enough.


Sarah Miller Freehauf is the Founding Editor of Teenage Wasteland Review–a literary journal just for teens, Editorial Assistant for Divedapper, a reader for [PANK], former Managing Editor for Lunch Ticket, and recently received her MFA in Poetry from Antioch University, Los Angeles. More importantly, she teaches high school English and Creative Writing in the Midwest. Her most recent creative work can be found in Stone Highway Review & Poemeleon.



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

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

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. NO yoga experience needed. Just be a human being.

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. NO yoga experience needed. Just be a human being.


Guest Posts, Inspiration

Enough Is Enough

October 4, 2015

By Elissa Cirignotta

I am enough. We are enough.

I am enough and I always have been. I am whole & I am part of your whole. I am complete. I am perfect.

I have experienced how easy it can be to forget this truth. Time and time again. I forget that I’m connected to the intelligent ebb & flow of life. I forget that my essence is pure. I forget that within me, God can be found.

I write it down, I recite it, I post in the bathroom… I surround myself in this truth and I plunge into this reality. Just as linguists claim it to easier to learn a language when you are fully immersed in the culture, the people, & the day-to-day living experience, so it is also true for your spiritual evolution. You could move to Italy to learn Italian and just as easily move within to learn… well everything.

I am whole. I am complete. I am everything. I am everything I need.

We live our lives in search. In pursuit. In hopes of a better… a better tomorrow, a better job, a better spouse… sometimes better children. And our prayers are for pleas of help and assistance to bring us that in which we truly believe will bring brilliant peace and happiness, if only we are able to obtain it.

Years of awareness and practice going within has taught me a new language with new vocabulary that is full of yesses and thank-yous. Instead of the plea to the great unknown to “take me there”, it has become, “bring me here”.

Bring me HERE. Now. To the stuff that is happening NOW! To the reality I created. To the reality I am creating. Bring me here. Be here now Elissa. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, healing, Inspiration

Why I Make Time To Get Away

October 2, 2015
FullSizeRender (1)

By Nina Carroll

I realize there are many facets to why I need time to get away. The most important is that my spirit calls me to a sacred safe space to breathe in the many possibilities life offers me. I become my true authentic self when I observe me in an environment living each present moment. The getting away helps me to balance the distractions of my daily hustles and bustles to work, obligations towards family, friends and my struggles with my monetary responsibilities to live a sustainable lifestyle within the everyday mundane stuff. I rather “let go” and surrender these attachments and/or entanglements. I realize they do not always serve me. Instead, I try to practice staying focus on my internal state I discover unravels and empowers an authenticity of my true self.

I recently had the privileged of a two weeks stay at a remote artist community. The best two weeks I had given myself for quite some time. A dream had come true for me. The setting was in a valley of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I felt more alive, free and open, being just where I was without any reservations or second thoughts. I was able to contemplate, reflect, meditate with being my true self with everything and everyone life introduced and offered me in this surroundings. I took nature walks, read and wrote poetry by a running creek, soothed my wounds in a natural hot springs that baptized my soul, which soared me further up into the majestic mountains. Until, alas I found myself one night sleeping under a bush thicket with bare necessities not making it back in time to my destination. I realize this became the catalyst catapulting the time needed to reveal what I was to experience during this getaway. My spirit had guided me to a place, where I had to recognize I must live life to its fullest no matter where I need to getaway.

However, I need time to getaway to a place that becomes a sacred space for me. Where my healing can begin to process in this space, so my spirit and I can connect. In this space my spirit helps me to facilitate and make an assessment of my spiritual, mental, emotional and physical state of well- being. I consciously make an effort not to resist my inner needs calling, but to go further, deeper within myself to alleviate whatever is pulling me away from hearing those needs. This getaway becomes the perfect time where I show-up, seek my truth; shine my light. I can relax, unwind, meditate as I take a deep inhale and breathe through my heart, mind and soul; exhale slowly to discern what entangled discords, distortions and defenses I have built around them. I practice releasing these blockages daily through meditation. A vital source that helps me to heal my heart, mind and soul, so I can easily, gently and openly flow with my spirit and life.

Continue Reading…

beauty, Guest Posts, Inspiration

The Fat Girl’s Benediction

October 1, 2015
Eat Diet Keys Showing Fiber Exercise Fat And Calorie Advice Online

**A note from Jen: A version of this essay was originally published on one of our favorite sites, “The Rumpus.” We are thrilled to share it here, with all of you.**


By Tabitha Blankenbiller

On the morning I’d had enough of my body, Twitter was quaking over Colleen McCullough’s obituary. It stated that the wildly accomplished writer was “plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless a woman of wit and warmth.”  Who knew someone could be full-figured and brilliant? My friends were livid. I was disgusted. And I was panicked. What if I careened off the road, right now, in these revolting stretchy pants that aren’t fooling a goddamn soul? Let me die painfully, shamefully, without kindness or honor. Don’t let me die fat.

As I roller-coastered through the backroads, I tried to remember the last time I was in a house of God. Not since my last visit to the United Methodist Church of Wilsonville. Forgive me father, for I have sinned. It has been 1,011 days since my last confession.

Two years since my last visit and nothing about the church’s Tuesday night Weight Watchers meeting had changed. The same woman who had taken my information four years ago still stood behind the multi-purpose room’s kitchen counter. On these Tuesday nights, us Eaters Anonymous members shuffled in with our weekly food trackers. We made whatever sacrifices we could: unzipped boots and kicked off sneakers, running to the bathroom to purge ounces from our bladders. The truth flashed onto the scale, evidence of a “good” or “bad” week. The line corralled next to a table selling dinner plates with patterns depicting proper meat-to-starch-to-vegetable ratios and serving spoons to ensure you only scoop half a cup of brown rice (white rice is evil). Miniature scales to make sure you did not accidentally grab four ounces of almonds instead of three. Keep on track. One day at a time. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Inspiration

See Me In September.

September 11, 2015
Beth School

By Beth Levine.

I’ve seen a few sunrises since the days when I eagerly picked out my first-day-of-school outfit or packed the car to the roof for the ride back to college. So why, when September rolls around, do I still feel that rush of expectation, of the excitement of new possibilities? While most people are grabbing at the last BBQs of summer, I am eagerly anticipating getting back into action. For me, New Year’s isn’t in December–it’s Labor Day.

It is coded into my DNA that September means getting back to school and friends, and picking out new clothes, pencils, erasers and books. (Yes, I know, I am dating myself. These days it would be new iPads and laptops.) The smell of new textbooks and the knowledge that the path of my next nine months lies within them. Would my teachers be nice? Who was in my classes? But most of all, when I was a school kid, September was the time when the slate of the previous year was wiped clean and there was the chance to start all over. Maybe this was the year I wouldn’t feel like a monstrous dork, maybe this was the year (dare I say it out loud?) a boy would notice me and the world would recognize my immense genius. Hey, why not think big? Anything was possible.

Continue Reading…

Binders, Guest Posts, Inspiration

A History of Listening

August 28, 2015
photo 2

By Donna Steiner

I had a lover who whispered to me.  Not just in public, to say something private, and not just in bed, but often, as though we had two distinct languages, one audible and one intimate. “I made you pizza,” she’d whisper, and it was thrilling, although I don’t think she was trying to thrill me.  We were surprised by one another, gliding into relationship, building a new thing of hushed tones, notes and silences, pauses.

Throughout my 20s I lived in big, cheap apartments in central New York.  The locals called them flats, and they were laid out like ladders, one room after another, stretching the length of three or four story houses.  Typically the living room would be at one end and the kitchen or a bedroom at the other.  Living on the top floor was the best in that it was the quietest.  The other floors usually meant you could hear upstairs tenants walking, which always sounded like large men wearing heavy boots or women in heels. I thought of myself, then (and now), as exceedingly quiet, but I practiced on occasion one noisy habit.  I liked to lie on the floor in the living room and listen to music turned up loud.  Those were the days of large stereo speakers.  We had two and they were crate sized.  I’d lie right between them and put on “Jungleland” by Bruce Springsteen, feeling the base pulse up through my hips and shoulders and thump against my ribs.  I’d wait for the 4-minute mark where Clarence Clemons’ saxophone came in with a long, slow, lamenting riff and I’d feel transported, in love with everything.  And then I’d play the song again.  And again.

Once, perhaps in retaliation, the downstairs neighbors embarked on a course of John Cougar Mellencamp songs, a full album, played on repeat.  For weeks.  To this day, I have a bit of difficulty listening to Mellencamp, and the names “Jack and Diane” send a little shudder through me. 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…

Binders, Guest Posts, Inspiration, motherhood

Knitting A Soul

August 12, 2015

By Bernadette Murphy

My twelve-year-old son, Jarrod, plays trumpet in a jazz group, and I’m usually the one to take him to the rehearsals in downtown Los Angeles. Often, I bring a knitting project to work on during the two or three hours he’s behind closed doors. A few other parents wait with me, though most drop their children and return later. The kids work with their jazz teacher in an almost completely soundproof room. When a piece they’re practicing becomes particularly loud, the slightest vibrations and melody slip through the soundproofing like smoke signals to let us know something wonderful is occurring in that little room. Hearing those sounds, I sneak up to the small five-by-ten-inch window and peer in.

I’m not the only one. Passersby, parents, people waiting for their dance classes to start: we all take turns jostling to watch preteen kids blow inspired, improvised jazz and blues. There’s something irresistible about watching people do something they love.

The rehearsals take place in a gorgeous performing arts school situated next to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), a stone’s throw from the Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and in the shadow of the amazing Disney Concert Hall, standing at astounding angles, huge sails of metal and concrete reminding Angelenos of imagination’s incredible power. The school is located in an area that’s both highly cultured and adjacent to great poverty; skid row is a few blocks away. It’s a place where art, music, and dance–self-expression of all forms–are actively encouraged and yet the implicit risk in such self-expression is tangibly present. The unspoken fear, at least among the adults, seems to be: If I give myself so fully to something I love, will I end up like that street-corner poet I passed while looking for a parking space? The woman was screeching her words at approaching vehicles, trying to call attention to her beliefs and experiences, only to be drowned out by the forward-marching parade of society. Or what about the homeless man outside MOCA, strumming his guitar, happy in his music yet oblivious to the rest of the world: Will I become like him?

One of the biggest dangers of giving in to art is that our values might change—or return to an earlier, simpler form. The perfect house, the right furniture, the great job, the designer clothes: Maybe those things don’t represent our hearts’ desires the way we thought. Maybe we’ll learn something about ourselves that we didn’t particularly want to know. Or maybe people will laugh at us. Maybe we won’t appear the way we’d like to.

Worse yet: Maybe we won’t be any good at what we love. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Inspiration, love

Falling In Love With Flip

June 12, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Judy Kirkwood

What happens when you’re not a dog person, but you are left with a dog?

It wasn’t until my dog, Flip, was 15 years old that I realized I loved him. After my divorce, 5 years ago, I would jokingly say to my sons that Flip was my husband now. But the truth was that I had only just tolerated Flip for much of his life. I didn’t fall in love with him until he had a bad case of fleas: not the first time, not the last time, but the in-between time.

Although constant and caring, I was so detached in my relationship with Flip that until last year I believed he was a Yorkshire Terrier, even though he weighed 20 pounds. Watching a youtube Animal Planet video one night it dawned on me that Flip wasn’t a Yorkie at all, despite his bill of sale. He was a Silky Terrier. The giveaways, besides his size, were how he had always lifted up one paw in a quizzical manner when he looked at me, and how one ear often was up while the other flopped down (hence the name my younger son gave him).

In addition, I woke up one day and realized Flip was a year older than I thought. I had been so caught up in other things in my life – things I can’t reveal, except for my husband’s infidelity, which became pretty obvious – that I had lost track of Flip’s age, which was at the far end of his breed’s lifespan.

I should mention he is a handsome, dapper dog, who attracts attention even though he has an enlarged liver that makes his belly look as though it needs to be reined in with a waistcoat. I’ve always thought he should be wearing a Sherlock Holmes cap and ruminating on a small Calabash pipe, which would fit neatly in the space where he is missing his two lower front teeth. Like most dogs, he is on a mission when he is on a walk, looking for aromatic cues and clues and behaving accordingly. Everyone stops to admire him. But I never felt proprietary about his looks or charm. He was sort of a legacy pet. Mine by default. Or so I thought.

We had trouble bonding because it took so long to potty train him. We failed at crate training because he barked so much that his saliva pooled on the floor of the kennel and made it slippery plus rusted the metal grate he attacked for hours. He shredded pee pads. I had to take him to a pet therapist because he wouldn’t stop peeing and pooping in the house. He relieved himself next to her desk as she was asking me what the problem was. Although I had some success in training him with treats to go outside, which he expects every single time he potties to this day, my husband’s strategy to save our wood floors and carpeting was to train Flip to void in the concrete basement of our home. I never went down there.

A family dog for the first 10 years of his life, bought for our 10-year-old son, Flip ran around the grassy common area of our suburban home, a blur against the tree line, swing sets and sandboxes. He was so lively that he jumped back and forth, straight up like a young goat, over Magic, our lame black lab, who sat calmly for Flip’s stunts. Sometimes if Magic was off-leash (it seemed unlikely he would move far since he dragged his back legs on the ground when he tried to run), Flip would spirit him through the woods into the next subdivision or down the railroad tracks. Flip came back while Magic usually ended up in a ditch until someone called thinking he had been hit by a car and we picked him up. Once Magic died, Flip became more aggressive with other dogs so I really couldn’t let him off the leash too often to fly around our big yard.

While I fed Flip and let him in and out all day, he took long evening walks with the man of the house. I appreciated the break from doggie care until I found out that those leisurely walks with Flip were an opportunity for my husband to talk on his secret phone with his girlfriend.

When we separated after a 35-year marriage I decided to move away from my Midwest home and start over in the small Florida town where my younger son had relocated. My soon-to-be ex had no desire to be burdened with a dog while ironing out his relationship problems with the other woman. Drained and empty, I didn’t know if I could afford to take care of Flip either financially or emotionally. I thought about putting him up for adoption. But with behavior problems and, of course, his inconsistent pottying how could I be sure he would not be mistreated by a stranger?

In the end, I packed him in the car along with the few things I was taking from my old life. For the first few months, Flip and I had a gypsy existence. First I stayed on a farm in Georgia while I helped an author write a book. Because there were a number of rescue dogs running around the house, all female, which made Flip want to constantly mark his territory, I spent the days with Flip tethered to my belt as if I were Mother Superior and I had a very long rosary dragging the floor with a dog at the end of it. Then I stayed with friends and family whose allergies or own pets made it imperative to board Flip at different kennels.

Back on the road, Flip was my steady companion in a changing landscape. We were on a journey together and he rose to the occasion, holding his bladder during an interminable traffic jam outside of Atlanta, and not barking when I left motel rooms to search for food for us.

As I was cobbling together a new life in Florida, Flip had a terrible bout with fleas. I’d never met a flea and suddenly they were crawling all over my animal. I was more worried about me getting fleas than about Flip having them. I got rid of them, but saw Flip as a flea carrying host whose silky hair was a golden meadow for creepy things I didn’t want close to me.

The next time Flip got fleas was less of a panic. I knew it was normal in Florida. Against my space being contaminated by a chemical bomb that might exacerbate my asthma and his panting and wheezing, I chose to comb and bathe him faithfully, with the addition of dog flea pharmaceuticals. Every day I spent hours attending to the little devils that hopped around in his hair making him bite himself. I was as devoted to grooming him as any ape, chimp, or monkey mother. As an old dog, age 15, his skin was covered with benign tumors under his hair and I had to be careful not to scratch their surface and make them bleed. I felt so sorry for him I gave him little massages, listening to him groan, sigh, and cluck like the gray squirrels on our morning walks. Continue Reading…

cancer, Guest Posts, healing, Inspiration

On Fighting Cancer The Second Time Around

June 9, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Shauna Zamarripa

In 2007, things were going really well for me. I had just gotten my residential real estate license and was killing it despite the fact that the market was in the crapper. Back then, I had learned quickly that foreclosures and short sales was where the money was at, so I speedily obtained my CDPE (Certified Distressed Property Expert) designation and was off to the races. And man, oh man, was I winning. I was the preferred listing agent for several banks and acquisition companies. And business?

Well….business was GOOD.

It was also right around this time that I had begun blogging for major websites like Yahoo, CNN Money, MSN Money and even found myself smack dab on the front page of

And that made business even better.

I had begun developing my own model on how to use blogging for lead generation and business building. And it was going GREAT….until the other shoe dropped.

I got sick. Really sick. I had gone in for my annual OBGYN exam. A few days later they called to tell me the results were abnormal. When I went back in for more tests…that was when I found out I had cervical cancer. Stage 3.

I was 29 years old.

I was devastated.

Upon hearing the news, I went home and didn’t get out of bed for two days. I didn’t say anything to anyone, and many people even close to me didn’t know what I was dealing with. I refused to ask for help. I refused to let anyone know how hard it hit me.

I went to my next appointment alone (which I was fine with), as they begun freezing the cells. It hurt like HELL. But I powered through. Then? That’s when they started the chemo. And while I didn’t think anything could have been worse than what I had already endured, that was. Far worse.

There were days I couldn’t feel my hands or my feet. I never told anyone. I totaled three cars in a year, thanks to my stubbornness, but didn’t lose my life. There were days I couldn’t get out of bed. Some….because I didn’t want to, others because I just couldn’t. I was too tired. I was nauseated and exhausted. I could barely function. I was fuzzy and lost.

It was at this point that I had to give up my real estate career and focused on blogging full time. I was too sick to do much of anything else at the time.

But, as I got better, the more I wanted to blog and the less I wanted to do real estate. By 2010, I was healthy again. I felt like myself again. The steroids and the depression medication, however, caused me to gain a LOT of weight over the past couple of years. But I fought that back off as well. I worked out, ate right and lost it all. By 2011, I was looking a LOT better.

Then, 2012….tore my world apart. Secrets, lies and devastation took me down a rabbit hole that I would wish upon no one. Ever. And, even though I was cancer free, I wasn’t sure I wanted to live anymore. Yet, as I looked into my all three of my daughters eyes, I realized that wasn’t an option. They still needed me. So? I stayed. All the while never telling the people I should have told about much of my struggle. Because it just wasn’t their business. But, moreso because, when you go through hell, you just don’t want to talk about it anymore. Because you’ve felt it, you’ve dealt with it, and it became this part of you that you would rather forget than remember.

And that’s okay. You’re allowed to do that.

2012 saw a final separation of myself and my husband of 17 years. 2013 had me falling in love again. It also saw me through a house fire that nearly claimed my life….and something that created a lot of change. I remodeled my house and moved the (now 19-year-old) twins out and moved myself and the 13 year old in with the man, the love of my life, a man who, in 2014 I married – despite my saying repeatedly I would never get married again. And 2015 brought back an old friend…my cancer.

Except this time, things were different.

When they told me I needed more tests, something in me knew that this time was going to be worse than the last one. And even though everyone said “I would be FINE,” I knew (somehow) that this time wasn’t going to be as easy.


I hate when I’m right. Continue Reading…

#DareToBeaDork, Guest Posts, Inspiration

Dare To Be a Dork! I Dare YOU.

May 5, 2015

Hey tribe,

So I posted a ridiculous video of me dancing in my socks in my living room yesterday. And no, not like Tom Cruise in Risky Business. I had yoga pants on and a cowboy hat though. Total dorkfest. I posted it on my Facebook fan page and the response was overwhelming. People went Ca-Razy. You don’t need permission to be a dork. At least I don’t. You can watch my dork video here.

So I challenge you. Post a video of yourself dancing or being a dork and use the hashtag #daretobeadork. Post it on instagram and follow and tag me with @. I am @jenpastiloff there. Or post it on my FB page here.  Justine took my challenge and sent me this video this morning. The video looks better on my FaceBook. For some reason Youtube made it weird. Click here to see the viral action!

I posted it on my page and it has gotten over 65 thousand views in a few hours and is going viral. Her dream is to make it to the amputee conference. Here is what she wrote on her GoFundMe Campaign:


Hello everyone, and thank you for checking out my GoFundMe! I’m Justine Clifton and I’ve been an amputee for about 16 years now. At the age of 9, I had to have my left foot amputated, due to birth defects. I was also born with short arms with only two fingers on each hand, hence the nickname T-Rex! J Despite my differences, I’ve always had a good attitude about life, but I still sort of felt alone because I was the only t-rex amputee at my school and didn’t really know any other amputees until I was 20!

Now that I am older and have fully accepted my differences and have learned to love myself BECAUSE I am different, I cannot wait to meet more people with the same outlook on life! I am 25 years old now, and try to get involved with every organization and event for amputees as I can to help raise awareness, and learn more about myself and others! I am also going to school to be a Prosthetist! I am so excited about this career path and cannot wait to give back to the community! There is no greater feeling than being with a whole group of people that have overcome their own obstacles, which makes them love and appreciate life much more because of the challenges they’ve faced. The atmosphere is infectious! That is also what the Amputee Coalition of America is all about! Bringing people together from around the U.S. to hear other’s stories, learn about new prosthetic technology, participate in adaptive sports and mobility clinics, and more! I have the opportunity to be a part of this for the first time in my life this summer if I can raise enough money to attend the 2015 Amputee Conference in Tucson, AZ. Unfortunately, I am a full time college student, living paycheck to paycheck, and do not have the extra funds for this experience.

My goal is to raise $1,450 for the conference:

Conference ticket: $280

Hotel fees: $114 for 5 nights: $570

Round Trip airfare: $600

**If I am unable to raise enough in time for the conference, donations will go toward starting the JusTrex brand for my YouTube channel. **
I am so thankful for any donations, if you would like to contribute.

God bless!

Justine Clifton



Wanna help me support her? Click here and share the video to really make it viral. >>

Please post your video and remember to use the hashtag. There’s lots of stuff happening on Instagram. I am also announcing the winner of my retreat contest tonight over there. You have a few more hours so head over to @jenpastiloff on Insta. Love you guys. xo Jen

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.


Support The Lucky Fin Project!

Support The Lucky Fin Project!