Browsing Tag

anorexia

eating disorder, Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts

Losing My Soul Sister To An Eating Disorder

April 6, 2015
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beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Jessica Lucas.

Some of this content may be triggering to anyone who has struggled with an eating disorder.

It was the day of the Leeza talk show taping. The topic: eating disorders. I walked into the Hollywood studio prepared to talk about the one thing that tormented and tortured me every day, anorexia, and I had never felt so overwhelmed, frightened, and ALONE – even as I was surrounded by hundreds of studio audience members.

“No one understands. No one gets it. No one can relate. No one will care. I’ll sound crazy. I’m not sick enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not articulate enough. I’m not thin enough. I won’t make any sense. I am all alone.” The all too familiar harsh criticisms and relentless fears ran through my mind more quickly than I could slow them down or resist them.

As I began to feel like a deer in the spotlights – visibly shaking, paralyzed with fear, drained of all color, wondering what I’d gotten myself into and ready to turn and run away – the studio wrangler led me to my seat near the stage.

Immediately, I was drawn to the woman with the comforting smile, Bo Derek-like braids in her blonde hair, and big blue eyes sitting in front of me. I knew her, but I didn’t know her. I loved her, but I’d never met her. I related to her, but we’d never spoken. We were best friends, but I’d never seen her before. Continue Reading…

Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, Young Voices

A 19 Year Old On Self-Loathing & Compassion.

February 26, 2015
Mother's Day Retreat! Join Jen Pastiloff in Ojai, Calif this May for a life-changing weekend retreat. May 8-10th. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being.  Click photo to book.

 

"Here’s the thing about Jen Pastiloff, folks. Here’s the revolutionary thing.

She listens.

She listens with an intent focus, a focus that follows your words inside you. Because she has hearing problems, she watches your lips as you speak, and she plucks the ash of your words from the air and takes it inside herself and lays it beside her heart, where before too long your words start beating as if they were strong, capable, living mammals. And then she gives them back to you.

Boiled down, this is the secret to Jen’s popularity. She can call what she does Beauty Hunting–she is for sure out there helping people find beauty. She can start a campaign called “Don’t be an asshole” and remind us all to stop a second and please, please, please be our better selves. She can use words like attention, space, time, connection, intimacy. She can ask participants to answer questions like What gets in your way? What stories are you carrying around in your body? What makes you come alive? Who would you be if nobody told you who you were? All of that is what it is. But why it works is because of her kind of listening.

And what her kind of listening does is simple:

It saves lives." ~ Jane Eaton Hamilton.

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Karolina.

“If you listen carefully you will know exactly who I am.”

Compassion is a funny thing, it is forgiving, it is comforting, it is safety, and it is scary, but above all, it is strong, much stronger than one could imagine.

I never thought about telling this story. It didn’t even occur to me that it should be something discussed with the public… but I slowly started to realize, why not. This demon lives off of secrecy; grows and grows the more it is hidden. So why not expose it cold turkey. Tell the whole world, cause I know that I’m not the only one who struggles with this; who has had an ugly past with food, a destructive relationship with the gym, a disturbing relationship with the mirror, and shattering relationship with myself. So here goes nothing at trying to tell a very complicated piece of whom I am.

A few months ago I would never have thought I’d have the courage to share this part of my past. But to be honest, it’s not in the past, because it’s still going on, current, and will continue to for a very long time.

Last year, if you had asked me if I was content with myself, if I was at peace with myself, if I could look at myself in a mirror and smile; a true genuine smile, I would have lied and said yes, because that’s what I was supposed to say. They always say that the people who look like they’ve got their lives the most put together are either, 1. Actually put together, or 2. Rotting on the inside.

I would classify as number 2.

No one would think I’d be the person to have this kind of internal battle. It would never even cross their mind; I’m that kind of person that is very good, extremely good, at making my life seem incredible, almost perfect, with absolutely nothing wrong ……

Well, now, I’m paying the consequences for that lie, and I’m trying to make it right.

Before I stepped on campus, I thought I was confident in myself. I felt grounded. I thought I knew whom I was and what I wanted to do with my life. I thought I was content with myself, I thought I loved myself, loved my body. And if you asked anyone else they’d say that’s exactly how they saw me too. But what I didn’t know, was that I loved my body, because it got me attention from the opposite sex, not because it was something sacred for myself and only myself.

It’s December, my relationship is falling to shit and I’m standing in front of the mirror; it started like anything else would, very minor, a quick millisecond of a thought… hmm it couldn’t hurt to get rid of that extra layer on my thighs, I mean honestly, just cut down on what I eat for a few weeks.

Continue Reading…

Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, healing, The Body

Dancing With The Darkness.

February 25, 2015
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By Sian Ewers.

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” – Carl Jung

And everything hurts.

It aches. All of it.

Every cell, fiber and atom that makes up my being.

Mind, body and soul thrown into a bowl, mixed, stirred, and formed with hands and words.

I want it all.

I want the bones, the protruding sharp edges, want to feel them beneath my skin, no meat or flesh to cover.

I want the blur, the navy blur of a fuzzy mind that is starving, buzzing with success.

I want the sunken cheekbones; the ones that make my lips look bigger. The ones that make people tell me my eyes look googly.

I want googly eyes.

I want the falling of hair, the outcome, the prize – the proof that I’m winning.

I want my calves to shrink, the muscle to melt and my thighs to never for any reason touch.

I want the pride. The knowing. The pit of my stomach tightness from no food and triumph.

But everything hurts and the control, the power, is the only thing melting now.

 

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that's it! Summer or Fall 2015.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that’s it! Summer or Fall 2015.

Continue Reading…

Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, Self Image, Self Love, Women

An Open Letter To All Companies Who Body Shame Women.

January 27, 2015
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beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Annie Sertich.

I’ve been so inspired by #thisgirlcan (an ad in Britain to get chicks active age 14-40).

So a few months ago, a bestie Mindy Sterling (actor from Austin Powers), and I were shopping at the Promenade in Santa Monica, California. We went into Joe’s jeans.

A sweet, cute, 20-something girl greeted us. We smiled back. Then after about 15 seconds she said to me, and only me… ’Just so you know we have more sizes in the back.’

“Huh?” I said.

“We have bigger sizes in the back.’ She sweetly said.

I laughed.

**And this is NOT a post fishing for anything other than I needed to share how bummed this made me for women/girls eating gum for dinner. Plus really Joe’s? LAME.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Continue Reading…

Anonymous, Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts

The Turning Point.

January 24, 2015
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By Anonymous.

I’ll never forget the first time someone called me “little” during my teenage years. It was my sophomore year of high school, during our One Act Play festival. I had just won an award for best director and my opponent’s mother fondly referred to me as “that little Erin girl”. She did not say this to my face, of course. But my mother informed me that she’d overheard it. When my mother repeated it, she said it with a hint of bitterness. But I romanticized the idea, the thought that I was this tiny force to be reckoned with, a warrior in bows and ballet flats.

Shortly after this, I developed my eating disorder. Since my reputation as tiny was solidified, my obsession with keeping it began. I shed invisible tears over the size of my stomach, the slowly growing pile of white that barely puckered over my jeans. “You’re tiny.” I’d tell myself this as I ate increasingly smaller portions, to the point where I sometimes ate nothing at all.

My boyfriend called me little too. “You’re so tiny,” he’d tell me, wrapping his hand around my wrist to illustrate his point. I confided in him that I thought I might have an eating disordeI confided in him that I thought I might have an eating disorder while on the phone with him one night during my freshman year of college.

“I’ll tell your parents if it gets bad,” he said. I wondered what bad had to be, if the ritual of purposely not eating for days whenever I got stressed didn’t apply.

When that boyfriend walked out of my life, I told myself that I’d stop starving myself. If ever there were a trigger to that habit, this was it. But, not again, I promised myself. The boy who gave up on me was not worth it.

Flash forward to a few weeks later, post-breakup. I’ve left to study abroad in the Netherlands. I’m living in a castle and making fast friends. And yet, the self-loathing that I’ve struggled with since high school sets it, tainting everything around me. All I can see is the stick legs and thigh gaps of other girls.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Continue Reading…

Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, healing

Sugar Spots: On Being Bulimic.

January 15, 2015
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Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

By Kit Rempala.

“So, this is rock bottom,” I find myself thinking again.  “How does it feel?”  Just seconds before I had been bounding up the stairs into the darkness, calling to my family that I’d be back in a few minutes, smiling. Always smiling.  But once that light clicks on, that door slides closed, the lock turns over with that slow, grinding sound that reminds me of stiff, cracking joints – the world goes silent.  On the other side of that door the rest of the house vanishes, as if I’ve been scooped up and deposited into the back pocket of the world.  My entire universe is reduced to a bathroom.   And once that lock turns over, I’ve got nothing left.

To me, rock bottom looks an awful lot like the bottom of a toilet bowl.  With one hand around my skinny ankle and a toothbrush down my throat, I deposit the last shreds of my dignity into the water below.  I stand to make it easier, though I tell myself it’s because I refuse to kneel before this disease.  It’s a sad way of reassuring myself that there’s still some fight left in me.

The lining of my stomach blisters with the presence of food.  The slightest crumb is too heavy for it to bear.  It rejects each meal like a cancer, stretching bigger and bigger as though it would rather rip than absorb the toxin I’ve planted at its core.  Nerve endings are peppered with the gunfire of pain.  My abdomen swells like the belly of a pregnant woman, preceding me wherever I go.  A dull ache spreads from my midsection to my mind, begging me to make it stop.

I never believed in sin before anorexia and bulimia.  And yet now I feel the burden of sin inside me, not as something I carry but as something I am, a piece within me, an inseparable devil and parasite.  It whispers to me and I believe what it says.  Food angers it; I writhe in its fury – and I find myself craving a salvation that has nothing to do with God.  I crave relief from the heaviness in my guts as much as anyone else craves the food itself.

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Continue Reading…

Eating Disorders/Healing, Eating/Food, Guest Posts, Self Image, Truth

The Skinny on Mary.

January 3, 2015
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By Teri Carter.

Mary is skinny. Mary has a trick. Mary shows up late for lunch, which means she has no time to order or no time to eat. Both work. Mary’s just turned 50 and she is always talking food: You would not believe what I stuffed in my face at that barbecue! Your bag of Cool Ranch Doritos is in danger. I’m ordering a cheeseburger and fries! But Mary, who owns an investment firm, is an expert at moving her food around a round plate and she always gets a to-go box for her barely-touched burger and fries. Can’t wait to pound this down at midnight. She thinks we believe her, so we pretend we do. We all have our tricks.

In an August 2012 article for Forbes, Lisa Quast quotes a research study: 45 to 61 percent of top male CEOs are overweight, compared to only 5 to 22 percent of top female CEOs. Then, in her closing paragraph, Ms. Quast goes inexplicably blasé: “As for me, I’m off to the gym with my husband for weight training and a two mile run. Then I’ll probably have a veggie salad for dinner so I can keep my body mass index at the low end of the normal range. As these studies demonstrate, thin is in for executive women – although I’d prefer to think if it as ‘healthy’ being in.” Her ending leaves me cold. I go back to the beginning.

Continue Reading…

Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, healing

The Bullshit Bargain.

October 27, 2014
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beauty-hunting-jen-logo-blackBy Jen Pastiloff.

I got sick as I was leading my retreat in Italy a couple years ago. Really sick.

Sick like you get once every ten years sick, sick like you forget what that kind of sick feels like until you actually are that sick kind of sick.

I lost my voice and the left side of my face swelled up. I couldn’t inhale without coughing out green mucus and I wanted to vomit every twenty minutes. I couldn’t breathe through my nose and my throat was so sore it felt like I was swallowing sand every time I so much as opened my mouth.

So here I am in Italy, leading a retreat with twenty-five people and sick like Hell has frozen over.

So what do I do?

I bargain with God.

Please God. Please if you help me get through teaching this ninety minute class without dying or passing out I will never again ______ or I promise I will ________.

I am not religious at all but I realize when I get that desperate, when I feel as if my life is truly on the line in some way, I realize, in hindsight, that I think if I promise to be “good” for the rest of my life then nothing bad like this will happen to me again. Continue Reading…

courage, Guest Posts, healing

Woman, Interrupted.

September 27, 2014
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By Lisa Barr.

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From Tragedy to Triumph: 34 years after recovering from Anorexia Nervosa, I went back to the scene of my childhood trauma.

Have you ever done something not because you want to but because you have to? Because “closure” is required. I wonder, can you ever really put a lid on childhood trauma?

They say you can never go back, be it a relationship, an unforgettable experience, or any place that holds too many strong memories. It is never the same, because you are not the same. I think about this as I approach the elevator leading to the Eating Disorders Unit of a prominent Chicago hospital. It has been 34 years since I have been back to what I remember as the “gateway to hell” — where I was once a patient, at just shy of 13 years old, barely 45 pounds and starving myself to death.

Of course I am going to feel different, I tell myself. I am now healthy, thriving, with three beautiful daughters; a life filled with blessings: a wonderful husband, financial security, great friends, and time for myself. Why am I suddenly terrified? Why did I decide to revisit my childhood nightmare?

I don’t have to do this.

But you do, that tiny voice inside me whispers. It’s time to face what was, and give back. By giving back, I am on my way to share my survival “story” with a group of young patients in the hospital who are suffering from Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia. I had gone through a rigorous process to volunteer in this special hospital unit, and tonight would be my debut.

Continue Reading…

Anonymous, Eating Disorders/Healing, guest post, healing

I Am Afraid of Getting Better: A 21 Year Old On Having Anorexia.

August 13, 2014
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Anonymous

I am afraid of getting better.

What kind of illogical statement is that? I wrote that down the other day in my journal at one of Jen’s workshops in England, and kind of baulked at what it even meant.  I know that I don’t want to continue the way I am, I definitely don’t want to get worse, but I am scared of getting better.

What is the other option? Is there even another option?

For the past three years I have been battling with anorexia.

I can’t really believe I just wrote that down.  I don’t think I have ever actually written that sentence down before.

I’ve never had a happy relationship with my body.  I always felt like I was too podgy.  I was the girl who used to forge her Mum’s signature to miss out on swimming lessons because of a persistent ‘ear infection’.  Really, I just didn’t want to put on my swimming costume and have to suck my stomach in, sit up really straight, and not put my legs all the way down when I sat down so they didn’t expand to look twice their normal size.  The thing is, I know looking back at photos of myself, and remembering the other girls at school, that I wasn’t actually big at all. Continue Reading…

cancer, Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, healing

As I Disappear: My Battle With Anorexia During Cancer Treatment.

May 15, 2014

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By Kathleen Emmets.

“She’s so thin,” I say to myself as the familiar sense of envy creeps in. I notice her jeans billowing around her legs and am filled with self loathing. “How did I allow myself to gain the weight back?” In the past year, I have gained 25lbs and hate the sight of myself in a mirror. These thoughts would be somewhat normal for any woman to think, I guess. Most women I know have issues with their body. Except I know it is beyond fucked up for me. See, I’m sitting in Sloan Kettering Cancer Hospital for my two month check up, and that woman I’m staring at, well, she’s undergoing chemotherapy; just like I’ve been for the past three years.

Somewhere in my mind I know these thoughts are wrong. That’s a lie, actually. These thoughts are completely normal to me. I just know they would be perceived as wrong by others, so I say nothing. When I was first diagnosed with Stage IV cancer in 2011 and the doctors were running a battery of tests on me, I saw on my chart that I fell within the normal weight range for my height. I always have. But charts be damned. In my mind, I’ve always been fat. “Well”, I said to my sister as I was about to begin chemo, “I’ll finally lose those stubborn ten pounds I’ve been struggling with for years.” “That’s looking at the bright side,” she replied. Clearly we not only share genes but also a morose sense of humor.

As the months passed, my weight slowly began to drop. It wasn’t too drastic initially though. I would hear other patients complain how they couldn’t keep weight on and, like in the movie ‘When Harry Met Sally’ I half jokingly think, “I’ll have what she’s having” But, there is nothing funny about this, I know. I was fighting for my life and yet…and yet…I secretly loved to feel my bones protruding. In bed alone, I would run my hands across my jutting hip bones with a sense of relief. I stood in the mirror looking at myself naked and thought, “I’m finally skinny.”

When I was prepping for a surgery where a pump the size of a hockey puck would be placed under my skin to delivery chemotherapy directly to my liver, I asked the doctor if it would be very noticeable. He said because I was so thin it would definitely show but wouldn’t be too bad. After he left the room I turned to my husband and said, “Did you hear that? He said I was thin.” My husband just stared at me as I gave him a half smile.

I began to shop often. It was a thrill to get a size XXS, to see my clavicle deep and hollow. I embraced this thinness. Even as I was losing my hair. Even as I was throwing up and paralyzed by the chemo induced neuropathy. I found my hands sliding over those jagged hip bones again, following the curve on my concave stomach. It was the one bonus I found in cancer treatment.

Two years in, my medication was switched up. This new pill regime didn’t make me sick, didn’t cause me to lose my appetite. Slowly, my weight crept back up. My breasts became full again, my stomach a little more rounded. “Fuck”, I thought, “I can’t get fat again.” My size 2 jeans became a size 6. The weight came back at a steady pace. Once again, I could pinch my hips and feel skin. I began my food deprivation technique again. An egg for breakfast, lettuce for lunch, fruit for dinner. 2lbs gone…5lbs gone…8lbs gone. Yes. It’s working. I’m back in control. Except, I’m not in control at all. And this time, people are taking notice. At dinner my husband asked me why I wasn’t having bread, or meat, or much of anything really. “You’re spiraling again,” he said. I went home and dropped to my knees on my bathroom floor in a fit of tears. How can I continue to hate this body? The body that successfully fought off cancer. The body that brought my wonderful son into this world. The body that has been caressed and made love to. How is it that I am still here in this place of self loathing?

I have dug deeply over the past three years. I’ve gone on spiritual journeys, meditated with shaman, prayed to saints. I’ve done the work to deal with the cancer, but not with the real issue, which is why do I continue to hate myself? How is it that someone who fought so hard to live, still just exists in a body that she despises? What was this all for if the internal struggle continues to be unbearable? I am living while so many of my friends have died from this disease. I am cancer free while so many still fight. And yet…and yet…my mind still whispers toxic thoughts. “Be small,” it says. Small is safe. Small means I’m in control. And after three years of having limited control over my body, it’s nice to be in the driver’s seat; even if I don’t know where I’m headed.

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Kathleen Emmets is an avid music lover and yoga enthusiast. She believes in seeking out the good in all things and being her most authentic self. Her articles have appeared in MindBodyGreen, Do You Yoga, themanifeststation.net and Elephant Journal. She writes about her experience with cancer in her blog, cancerismyguru.blogspot.com. Kathleen lives in East Norwich, NY with her husband and son.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above!

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above!

 

Join Jen Pastiloff, the founder of The Manifest-Station, in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it's magical.

Join Jen Pastiloff in The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts in Feb of 2015 for a weekend on being human. It involves writing and some yoga. In a word: it’s magical. This is where Jen and Kathleen (the author of this essay) first met!

Join Jen Pastiloff in Atlanta. Click the photo above.

Join Jen Pastiloff in Atlanta. Click the photo above.

Eating Disorders/Healing, Things I Have Lost Along The Way, Vulnerability, writing

Survival. By Jen Pastiloff.

May 1, 2014
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By Jen Pastiloff.

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I often think about the choices we make as humans and about how sometimes those choices, seem futile, naïve, masochistic. Un-human even. How sometimes, they lock us into a life we never imagined. You may want to pound your head into the wall (as I have done) upon looking back, say, at the choice to stay the night with an ex-boyfriend, who, when you ask if he can give you a ride to the Philadelphia airport the next morning, says, with a breath full of alcohol from the night before, “I’ll give you a ride to the airport for a hummer.”

The choice as to whether to give him a blowjob in exchange for a ride was simple one. Continue Reading…

Eating Disorders/Healing, healing, Making Shit Happen, Manifestation Retreats, Self Image

Thanks Cameron Diaz! It’s An Honor…

February 5, 2014

It’s an honor to have been asked to write a piece for Cameron’s site Our Body Book. (ps, get her book The Body Book. Good stuff!) I want young girls (and all women) everywhere to read this so if you could help me get word out I would love that. Please tweet by copying this tweet: @jenpastiloff talks about healing on @camerondiaz site @thebodybook buff.ly/1eRfjzd #thebodybook

Here’s an excerpt. 

I share because I think it’s important to see me now, not as someone who is perfect (far from it) but rather as someone who chosen to be here fully. Someone who made it out alive to the other side.

That’s not to say the journey is always easy. Some days it’s hard. I forget to breathe or I have to avoid mirrors. But mostly, I am doing okay in the world. I have learned to feel what I need to feel instead of avoiding it or starving it to death. I try and teach or share what I have learned along the way as best as I can.

People have an illusion sometimes that when you “heal” things miraculously disappear for good. That’s not been true for me, or most people I know. It’s a process. A one foot in front of the other, one breath at a time, “today I am going to love myself” process.

Click here to read the rest.

Thanks for sharing. Means a lot to me. 

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 10.47.56 AMSpeaking of young girls.. Here is a beautiful 18 year old who attended my retreat last weekend with her mom. This is what she had to say about the experience.

 
Jennifer Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Jen will be leading a Manifestation Retreat in Costa Rica at the end of March and her annual retreat to Tuscany is in July 2014. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing and for ALL levels. Read this post to understand what a Manifestation retreat is. Check out her site jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Jen and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October.