Browsing Category

Women are Enough

Guest Posts, Surviving, The Body, Women are Enough

Parts

December 22, 2016
parts

By Kim Haas

I am 12, walking down the street with my mom. I’m wearing denim shorts and a new T-shirt from K-Mart that has the word “Foxy” quilted across my newly evident chest. The letter “o” is actually the face of a fox. A car slows down and a guy yells something out the window at me, pelting me with words about my body, my shirt, my legs—whatever it is that has caught his attention.

This is the first time this has happened to me. I’m not the pretty one. Not the popular one. I am quiet. I read. I’m the good friend. The good student. The good daughter. My mom walks us a little faster, muttering under her breath, “Now, it starts.” I keep up with her but part of me wants to slow down, lag behind her, see what else my presence walking down a street might inspire. Another part of me wants to hide behind her, using her as a shield from the world, from the gaze of men, passing judgment on me as if it’s their right to do so. My mom is right. Something is starting: my life as a collection of body parts.

In January of 2015, two Stanford University graduate students biking across campus saw a male on top of a half-naked, unconscious woman behind a dumpster. They restrained him until police arrived. In March of 2016, freshman, Brock Allen Turner was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault. Facing a maximum sentence of fourteen years, he was given only six months because a longer sentence could have a severe impact on Turner who aspired to be an Olympic swimmer. He served three total. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Women are Enough, Young Voices

The Way I’m a Woman

November 2, 2016
feminine

Note from Jen Pastiloff, founder of The Manifest-Station. This is part of our Young Voices Series for Girl Power: You Are Enough. We are always looking for more writing from YOU! Make sure you follow us on instagram at @GirlPowerYouAreEnough and on Facebook here.

By Caroline Hoenemeyer

I love the beat my feet make when I walk, not the high-pitched click clack of some dainty spikes, but the weighted thud of these boots I’ve broken in, blistered, bruised. I love the way the fat padded around my stomach peeks and prods out of my leggings, maybe too tight. I love the way my black bra shows through my sheer laundered-with-sweat white shirt, with breasts heavy because that’s how gravity works and I don’t like to say no to nature. I love to speak with the deep vibrations in my voice—not like a question, whisper, or squeal, not afraid of intimidating men. I love to do the things the Look Like a Lady books tell me not to do.

I love the way I’m a woman and right now that means I love to appear in a way that’s grotesque to The Patriarchy. I am a Virgin and a Madonna and a whore and a blossom. I am a bloody tampon and strawberry lips and the shits after really good pasta. I am dimples on both sets of cheeks and streaks of stretch and a smile like sunshine. I am stubbly pubic hair peeking out of my tight denim shorts peppering my perfect balloon thighs. I am grotesque just as I am a pure white light of feminine energy. I am neither and all and I get to be whichever whenever I want and I won’t bend or break for anyone.

And yet oh, I want a husband. Not now, not soon, but not never. I want a husband and I want to make babies with him; I want a family. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Women are Enough

Two Jobs

July 28, 2016
adventure

By Amy Turner

“You must treat career hunt and husband hunt as same thing,” says my Croatian wax lady, Julia.  She is 29 and knows more than I did. At 29, all I believed in was a unilateral work ethic and Henry Miller inspired romantic doom.

“I agree,” I say, shocking even myself. Because if I’d thought about the shitty relationships I’d been in as ‘jobs,’ they were mostly low paying and emotionally abusive.  If I’d have framed them that way, would I have wasted so much time?  One shift at McDonalds and I’d have walked, but at her age, I was working a virtual minimum wage and fry grease trap of the soul.  It was a very anti-feminist idea, this searching for partnership with the fervor of a career, but I liked the possibility that this girl, at 29, was wise enough to design her own feminism. As opposed to clutching Steinem bumper stickers all day and cuddling with rogue charmers at night.

“I like man, in Colorado, handy, lots of tools, good round house,” she says. “But I text him I want to visit and he doesn’t text me back. I don’t know what to do. “ In my heart I want to say, RUN AWAY! DO NOT TEXT HIM! IF HE WANTS YOU HE WILL FIND YOU!! TRUST ME!! But I think she’s really good at waxing and advice is dumb because everyone’s only talking about themselves and every situation is different (BUT NOT REALLY CAUSE GUYS WHO LIKE YOU WIL FIND YOU, BUT THEN AGAIN I KNOW HAPPY MARRIED PEOPLE WHERE THE WOMAN WAITED  WITH THE PATIENCE OF JOB AND UNFLIPPABLE DUDE FLIPPPED SO WHAT THE HELL DO I KNOW?) and kept my mouth shut.

“He said he’d pay for half my ticket. Maybe I text that I bought it?  That he take me camping and that’s the deal?” she laughs. I remember thinking that way. That if he goes camping with you, and your smooth tan legs and your warm single sleeping bagged self, he will never be able to enjoy the natural world alone EVER AGAIN. Buuuuuuuuuuuuut……weirdly, they actually can.

“The camping line is cute,” I say.

“I mean, I’m not defined by relationship, but I want to do some things before I settle down, travel, have career,” she says, “But, the reason I was able to get to better place, better salon, was because I got to live with my ex boyfriend a while when changing jobs.”

I nod, “it’s easier to make changes when we have some support.” These are the things we don’t talk about a lot. How being coupled provides an emotional and economic bravery.  That making Big Life Decisions on your own can be downright exhausting after awhile and at a certain point, one just wants to not make any. Which leads to stasis and a heavy rotation of avocado toast and wine.

“I think most girls are like us now,” I say, thinking of the spectrum of women I know. Everyone wanted some adventure, a strong sense of self, a job that gave you independence, and to fall in love and be committed. The dream, a shared future and the quiet unspoken whisper that one would help the other not wind up living under a freeway underpass. Romance 2016. It was no longer chic to be kept like the fifties (or 90’s if your were a girlfriend of Jerry Buss) or be as ferocious as the eighties ladies. It seemed as if some of the fog had cleared, it seemed as if the most honest feelings, to want both, once deemed selfish (a therapist in her eighties once told me if I wanted to make money and be a wife I was a bit of a narcissist) were now the realest things possible. To give both desires equal weight. This was progress, this ‘both jobs’ idea of hers. It was also the day after President Obama endorsed Hilary Clinton. A woman who, in her twitter bio, identifies first as, wife, then ‘pants suit aficionado,’ and finally, 2016 presidential candidate.

“They are both jobs,” I say to her, as she removes a final strip of wax.

I can’t help myself, I want her to go to Colorado, because she is 29 and she will make love by a river and she will have that moment inside her forever, and that is no small thing. But I don’t want her to waste years waiting for a guy unable to push a few buttons.

“I have a very wise friend who used to say, ‘I can’t wait around for you to figure out how great I am.’ ”

Julia laughs and pulls up the mirror.

“Beautiful,” she says, impressed with her work. My eyebrows perfect.

“I dunno, maybe you should go to Colorado,” I say, remembering my guy in  Montana. The romance in the rearview mirror, worth every bug bite. One week riding horses and swimming in a river and watching him put on chaps for god’s sake. But had the romances blocked other happy vines from crawling in and stilling me, suturing me to one person? They felt like the only thing that fit in those days. But I wasn’t 29 any more, and the exotic now lay in a person who would pick you up from the mechanic, knew how to work the four remote controls, endure the holidays with your family.

“No more wasting time,” she says. Her accent thick and decisive. Resolved. “I don’t think he’s ready for real thing.”

This is the real job, I think.  Defining the real things. Being gentle with your own desires. All of your parts, hired.

448430-51

Amy Turner is an author, essayist and TV writer who has published on The Huffington Post. She was a Producer on ABC Family’s “MAKE IT OR BREAK IT, ” a story editor on CBS’s “THE EX LIST” and a staff writer on Aaron Sorkin’s NBC drama, “STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP.” You would like having a Negroni with her. She can be found on Twitter @turnerleturner.

 

12109010_10153307028458406_4053769942114712730_n

Join Jen Pastiloff in Tuscany Sep 17-24, 2016. There are just two spaces left. This will be her only international retreat in 2016 and is her favorite retreat of the year. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com asap. More info here. Must email first to sign up.

 

Join founder Jen Pastiloff for a weekend retreat at Kripalu Center in Western Massachusetts Feb 19-21, 2016. Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was? Jennifer Pastiloff, creator of Manifestation Yoga and author of the forthcoming Girl Power: You Are Enough, invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty. Note Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. Click the photo to sign up.

Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts, Women, Women are Enough

Together We Grew

June 20, 2016

By Kimberly Valzania

Hi ladies, women, girls. Listen up.

I know you.

I know that some of you have been abused your whole life, whether you know it or not.  Whether it was subtle and under the radar, or straight up violent. Abused in ways that you can talk about and ways that you can not. Because you don’t remember. Or because you do.

I know you’ve been harassed. I know that over the years you’ve been told what you can and can not do. What you are allowed to do.  You’ve been told by men and other women, too.  And you’ve even been lectured by yourself. You’ve second-guessed your decisions because of how other people feel.

You’ve been told you are too strong, too big. Or you are too small, too skinny. Too jiggly.

You’re too bossy, too bitchy. Too direct, too blunt. Too polite. Too vague. Too emotional. Too wishy-washy. You’re too demure, too quiet. You’re too loud. You’ve been told to tone yourself down at bit. Too much. Not enough.

Slut, whore, angel, girl next-door. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, storytelling, Women are Enough

Women Are Enough: Sami Jankins Interviews Emily Rapp Black

May 9, 2016
writing

By Sami Jankins with Emily Rapp Black

In life I’ve been fortunate to have extraordinary mentors. Mentors who have encouraged me to see my dreams as things that can be realized if I work hard enough. They have all been fantastic role models, however, they have always been men. It wasn’t for a lack of trying on my part, but all of the fields I have delved into have always had a strong male presence. What I have always wanted was to be a part of some glorious lady squad, and not to sometimes be the only woman in the room. In graduate school this would all change.

Once I received acceptance into the University of California-Riverside at Palm Desert’s low residency MFA program, I may have mentally willed Emily Rapp Black to be my professor. We happen to have strange life similarities. Besides both being gingers, we also both have a disability and have been posterchildren because of our disabilities. I knew that she would understand the kind of essays I wanted to write because she had probably been in similar life scenarios, ones that many others wouldn’t possibly understand. I immediately read through both of her memoirs – Poster Child and The Still Point of the Turning World. Even when I was in the emergency room with a severe migraine, I switched the book to audiobook as I had to keep listening about how fiercely she worked towards providing Ronan, her son who passed away from Tay-Sachs, with a beautiful life. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Women are Enough, writing

Women are Enough: The Debut Authors

March 12, 2016

With Sharon Guskin and Virginia Pye

SHARON: I remember sitting with you on a couch at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, talking about the IMG_6226 (1)books we were working on, as authors at colonies do, and bit-by-bit the confessions started to come out (I don’t remember who confessed first, do you?): both of us had been writing for over twenty years, and neither of us had published a book. I had written two unpublished novels and was starting a third; you had written even more…we’d both had some early encouragement that didn’t pan out. So I was pretty discouraged, and also struggling a bit with feelings of shame. I knew famous writers from the New York writerly scene (briefly dating one Pulitzer Prize winner and sharing coffees and dinners over the years with others); many of my best friends had published a few books already, to great acclaim. I remember thinking, what was wrong with me? Then I met you and your work was good — you read a short story for the residents at the colony  — and yet you seemed to be in the same situation….so it was confusing and also oddly encouraging.

What was that meeting like for you?

VIRGINIA: I really liked meeting you, and after I heard your story, I knew we were kindred spirits. I think I’d written five or six novels by then. Four had been represented by agents and had come close, but no dice. I was definitely discouraged, but because I taught creative writing and was head of a literary non-profit, I had to keep writing and trying to get published. I can see now that a side benefit of encouraging other aspiring writers was that it made me practice what I preached. That’s how it was when I met you: if you were going to keep trying, I had to, too! But, I won’t lie: it wasn’t easy.

SHARON: Why didn’t you quit?

 VIRGINIA: Like you with your author friends, I had put myself in the company of authors and publishing professionals. I would interview authors on panels and at their book talks, always pointing the spotlight on them, when, of course, I wanted it to shine on me someday. But I believe in Karma. Because I was a good literary citizen to others, they have since returned the favor. Like you! Inviting me to do this interview alongside you as your debut emerges. I feel happy for you and eager to support you. Jealousy and envy does nothing to help build a writing career.

So I’m curious, what kept you going? How did you find encouragement for your work, even without a publishing contract?

SHARON: I’m just stubborn, I think. The fact that my amazing agent had faith in me and loved my last unpublished novel was encouraging. And some of the nice “no’s” from editors were helpful, too. My friends and family were very supportive, which made a huge difference. But when we met, I was pretty scared. That’s why meeting you was inspiring and also daunting — on the one hand, I was terrified that I’d end up in your position, and on the other I felt, well, if she can keep going, then I can keep going.

Artist colonies have always been wonderful for me. There’s a sense of community there; we’re all in the same boat, trying to create new work.

VIRGINIA: Yes, we were simpatico from the start. I was sympathetic to your plight, but also impressed by you. Over the years, I’ve learned that a lot of successful writers have unsold earlier manuscripts in their drawers. There really shouldn’t be any stigma. In fact, we should share a secret handshake or something. But, as you said, we don’t exactly want to be stuck in that camp with each other forever.

How did you feel when your writing buddies started getting contracts?

SHARON: I really had to tackle envy head-on. I know it’s natural to feel these things, but the jealous mind is entirely useless — it doesn’t do a thing but make you miserable and get in your way. So I spent a lot of time learning how to be happy for others and letting go of my own neediness and desire for success. And it’s still a process, of course…the powerful part of not succeeding, though, was that I began to focus on why I wanted to do this. What was my intention? And I realized that there was a story I wanted to tell, about these extraordinary cases that the professors at the University of Virginia were studying, these children who seemed to remember previous lifetimes… I thought people might want to hear about these cases, and think about how we might or might not live our lives differently if they were true. When I focused on my intention to tell that story, all the career anxiety fell away.

How is life different and not so different for you, Virginia, now that you’ve published two books?

VIRGINIA: A huge weight was lifted when I was offered a contract for River of Dust. I no longer had to justify that I red phoenixwas a writer. I could just do it. I love having my books out there. Other authors groan about book tours, but I’ve been ridiculously gung-ho, even with my second novel. I enjoy visiting book groups and am more than happy to chat with anyone about my writing, or theirs, or other books that we love.

In Elizabeth Strout’s newest novel, her protagonist, who is a writer, says, “I like writers who try to tell you something truthful.” That’s really what it comes down to: writing truthfully, which is a lot harder than it sounds.

In my case, my earlier novels told contemporary stories about American women who resembled me in basic ways as wives and mothers living in cities and dealing with everyday problems. While each book tried to find its truth, in the end I had to write stories set in a distant place and time, far from anything I had ever experienced first hand. River of Dust and Dreams of the Red Phoenix are about Americans in China in the early twentieth century. My characters are good-hearted but hapless, and way out of their element. It took putting my stories in another world for me to find the emotional heart and truth, especially of my female protagonists. The Japanese suddenly attack or Mongolian bandits swoop down to steal a child, and the mothers in my novels are forced to become fully alive and challenged and real.

How were you able to find the truth in your debut? You’ve worked with an editor, Amy Einhorn, whose books are highly successful. You revised over many months and even years. Were there moments when you wished you could just get your novel out there because you were so eager to be published? Or are you glad you waited?

 SHARON: Amy took the book on when it was really very different, very flawed, and we went through three whole Guskin_cover_final-4drafts over a number of years. To be honest, I needed help figuring out how to get this book to work. I couldn’t do it on my own. And I was really lucky that I received help in this case, but it wasn’t easy. I added and took out over a hundred pages at various points in the process.

So I never had any regrets, but there were times, for sure, when I wished she would just sign off on a draft. When I’d look at her editorial note and groan — oh, no, she thinks I haven’t nailed this yet…in retrospect, I’m very happy she was so hard to please, as I’m proud of the book that we ended up with.

It’s true she has had many successes, but I think that’s because her storytelling instincts are so strong. There’s no formula, at least as far as I can tell. The only formula is no formula.

How is it different being an older debut author? Both of us started writing in our twenties; would it have changed your life to have been published back then?

VIRGINIA: Who can guess? Like everything else in life, we can never know the opportunity costs.

But I can say that one clearly good thing came out of publishing later in life: River of Dust is by far a better book than the previous ones. And Dreams of the Red Phoenix might be better still! You improve as a writer with practice. So there’s plenty of consolation in that. In the end, what matters more than success in publishing is writing the best books we can write.

How about you? How different would your life—and your books—be, if you’d been published earlier?

SHARON: Some people can write good books very early, they have that facility, but it took me a great deal of time and effort to figure it all out. And while I was plugging away all those years, I discovered the freedom that comes from not identifying oneself with success or lack of success — when I was in my twenties, at some level I believed that my worth was tied to these markers of external or material success, and it made me pretty anxious. And I don’t believe that any more, which turns out to be a much calmer place to be.

Do you have any advice to people still plugging away?

 VIRGINIA: That’s it: just keep plugging away. Remember there’s no deadline on writing a great book. And read well. Study how other writers have tackled their stories. Cheer on your peers. And try to have the writing itself remain the biggest satisfaction.

SHARON: Oh, great advice. Also: watch your mind and what you’re feeding it– Are you spending too much time on social media or reading things that have no meaning or value for you?  Are you spending too much time fantasizing about success or worrying about other people’s achievements? Keep connecting to your intention, what it is that you want to bring into the world, why you want to write this particular book. Keep bringing yourself back to that, believe in that, work hard — and keep going. You really might get there. After all, we did.

 

sharonSharon Guskin’s debut novel, THE FORGETTING TIME, is available from Flatiron Books/Macmillan. www.theforgettingtime.com

Virginia_Pye_300dpi

Virginia Pye’s novels, RIVER OF DUST and DREAMS OF THE RED PHOENIX are available now from Unbridled Books. www.virginiapye.com/virginiapyebooks.html

 

12109010_10153307028458406_4053769942114712730_n

Join Jen Pastiloff in Tuscany Sep 17-24, 2016. There are 5 spaces left. This will be her only international retreat in 2016 and is her favorite retreat of the year. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com asap. More info here. Must email first to sign up.

 

Join founder Jen Pastiloff for a weekend retreat at Kripalu Center in Western Massachusetts Feb 19-21, 2016. Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was? Jennifer Pastiloff, creator of Manifestation Yoga and author of the forthcoming Girl Power: You Are Enough, invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty. Note Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. Click the photo to sign up.

Join founder Jen Pastiloff for a special Mother’s Day weekend retreat in Ojai Calif, May 6th, 7th, & 8th, 2016.
Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are. This program is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was?
Jennifer Pastiloff, creator of Manifestation Yoga and author of the forthcoming Girl Power: You Are Enough, invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free—through writing, asana, and maybe a dance party or two! Jennifer’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty.
Note Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. Click the photo to sign up.