Guest Posts, Marriage, Relationships

Playlist- “The Long Run.”

December 16, 2014
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beauty-hunting-jen-logo-blackBy Karen Lynch.

I know how to shoot to kill, but I can’t shoot a gun out of a man’s hand. Civilians always think cops can do that, but only Annie Oakley could have pulled off that sort of trick. I know how to stay married, but I don’t how to keep passion burning in a long marriage, and maybe I also view those who say they can as I do Annie, rare, unlikely, and highly skilled.

Staying married for decades is like living with a roommate who plays his favorite music on an interminable random shuffle. When you first fall for him, you may love six out of the ten songs in his mix. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones and you immediately love nine of his songs, or maybe like my husband and me, you only love a couple of each other’s songs, but you wait with great patience through the tunes you despise, because you remember a long time ago, he once played you a song so beautiful it made you cry.

When the annoying earworm you have grown to hate, maybe “The Long Run,” by The Eagles, comes up for the hundredth time in a month, you must remind yourself that the song you love is still in the mix, though you fear you may never hear it again. And honestly, I can’t guarantee you ever will. If you want to stay married, you may have to settle for the certainty that the song you once loved so much is still in the shuffle somewhere, and that thought alone will have to be enough to keep you listening.

My husband, Greg, is not my soul mate. He is not my best friend. But my husband is a true partner, and in my world that’s a rank above best friend. He is also one of the few people on the planet who has been willing to listen to my playlist for 27 years, and I have listened, with frequent complaint, to his. 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…

Abuse, Guest Posts, Women

16 Year Old Girl On a Mission to Keep College Girls Safe.

December 16, 2014
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By Emma K.

“The fact that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted while in college should frighten all of us.”

California Congresswoman Jackie Speier said this recently in a letter to her constituents when she and Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Meehan submitted new proposed legislation on the subject of improving campus safety standards.

Question to parents: Would you send your daughter to college if the statistic was that 1 in 5 women would be mauled by a bear? And that 80% of the mauling’s would happen to your daughter while she was a freshmen or sophomore? My guess is that the answer would be a sudden decline in enrollments across America accompanied by a spike in online college education.

Earlier this year President Obama created a task force of senior administration officials to make recommendations on how to involve the federal government in the process of raising awareness of the issue and getting colleges to step up to the plate and take responsibility for these crimes on their campuses.

Tough laws and penalties already exist for colleges that don’t conform to the reporting guidelines and many have already been hit with fines: Yale ($165,000), Eastern Michigan ($350,000), University of Montana (undisclosed), to name a few. The even tougher laws and penalties under discussion may or may not solve the problem, but I believe the root of the problem can be solved by Engaging with college students, Educating those students about the problem and Empowering those students to think and act differently.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) employed similar tactics when it was formed and I think successfully drove drunk driving fatalities down over a ten year period. It wasn’t easy to retrain people’s thinking on why it was a really bad idea to drive drunk, but it worked there and I believe it can work here. I heard a TED talk recently and the speaker was talking about how the best new technology was “disruptive”. Well, we need to disrupt the norm in order to effect change and keep college girls safe. We need to be confident and patient about our ability to effect true social change. Nelson Mandela waited 27 years in jail, to effect true social change in his country. Now that’s commitment and patience! He said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. We will not have to wait that long. Through education and action, we can get college students to take a different view on things.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts

CHICKEN IN TURKEY.

December 15, 2014
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beauty-hunting-jen-logo-blackBy Debra Larson.

The only day I feared for my life began uneventfully. The sweetness of chai from the last rug shop lingered in my mouth. Savoring the last few moments before being car-bound again, I stretched, throwing my arms out wide and filling my lungs with fresh air. I blew out my breath, dropping my arms and eyeing the car warily. Soon I’d be trapped again with two smokers. And two cats.

My husband Michael and I were visiting his father, a retired Air Force Colonel who now lived and worked in Turkey. As a military attorney, Bill had made connections with a Turkish company that hired him once his military stint, and his marriage, ended. Bill came to our wedding in the U.S. two years earlier, but we hadn’t yet met his new Turkish wife, Mira, or her fourteen-year-old son, Derin. Or the cats.

Derin stood taller than Mira, whose petite frame belied her formidable presence. Both watched the felines gingerly paw the contents of their personal litter boxes, as if their cat memories couldn’t register the purpose of the peculiar grit-filled squares. Mira barked at the cats, insisting they get on with it. Even the cats knew to obey Mira. They complied and she scooped out their messes.

For three days, we’d been traveling together, visiting historical sites and shopping. Our generous hosts arranged this jam-packed road trip, trading their marble-floored luxury apartment for an over-crowded sedan. When I first realized the two cats were coming with us, I was incredulous. Who brings cats on a road trip? I caught the hushed tones of Mira and Bill arguing about it before we left. And here the cats were. Surely, Mira made concessions in the marriage, as well. They just didn’t affect me as directly. Or perhaps they did. Probably the last thing on Mira’s bucket list was yet another tour of the local sites with another one of Bill’s six children.

Now, we were preparing to leave our last stop, Yahyali, a town known for its naturally dyed yarns and handmade carpets, but on the fringe of tourist routes because it abuts a mountain range. We stayed in Yahyali longer than planned. A merchant had charmed us into a third rug shop and, as promised, it was the richest woolen topography we’d seen. Before Mira’s hand was warmed with the customary chai, she flipped over a corner of the top carpet in a stack. In every rug shop we entered, she instantly assessed a specimen’s worth by the size of the hand-tied knots visible on its under side. The smaller the knots, the finer the carpet. Yahyali’s carpets were exceptional, but none could fly, which was the only interesting feature at this point. A direct flight to Bill and Mira’s spacious apartment in Adana was the road trip finale I wistfully imagined. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Relationships, Self Image

The Single Girl’s Saga. What I learned After 5 years On The Dating Scene.

December 14, 2014

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By Brittney Van Matre

After my 10 year relationship ended, 10 years too long and a lot of angst culminating to the anti-climactic ending, I slowly began dating. I was not ready to be emotional entrenched with someone new; however, this realization didn’t quench my desire. I thirsted to find love in another. And therein began my 5 year saga on the dating scene.

I watched from afar while my best friends fell in love, flaunted sparkling diamonds, bought gorgeous gowns, and painstakingly planned every detail of their “big day”. “Why couldn’t I find a love like that?” I asked myself as I purchased my sixth bridesmaid dress, this time in lavender. Another ugly dress to be worn one night, and one night only. All these frocks were destined for a life of dust collection; soon-to-be second hand store merchandise where they’d likely be purchased as Halloween costumes.

Of course I was elated for my friends’ obvious good fortune; however, I was simultaneously in despair over my own ill-fate with love. My supposed inability to land a good guy of my own easily transitioned to second guessing everything about myself from my appearance, to my personality, to my choice in Facebook profile pictures.

My impatient quest for love included embarrassing words like coercing, manipulating, forcing, controlling, and dramatizing. I endured many years of unnecessary heartache while trying to work for a love that was not yet meant for me. I became more obsessed with the idea of a relationship than I was with any person themselves. Essentially, my ego was in complete control. Continue Reading…

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