Browsing Tag

courage

courage, Guest Posts

A Letter To My Son

August 25, 2015
letter to my son

By Susan Rahn

Dear Son,

You just turned 16.

It seems like I blinked and you went from a curious toddler to a handsome, bright young man with such a bright future within your grasp. I so excited for you and can’t wait to see what path you choose for yourself. I’m confident you’ll choose wisely.

There is so much I want to tell you but I know how much you hate ‘mushy’ letters. This will not be one of those. This includes important things to remember for when you choose a partner to share your life with.

You’re probably shaking your head at me because of how things didn’t work out with me and your Father. I may not seem like the best person to be doling out advice but I have a very unique perspective that I didn’t have before.

Obviously, you’ll want someone who loves and respects you. You’ll want someone that you can laugh with and share memories with. Everyone does. You’ll also want someone who drives you a little bit crazy with the particular way they do things. It’s OK. It will remind you of why you fell in love in the first place.

You’ll want someone who shares some of your interests. It’s OK if there are some differences. If you both liked all the same things life would be boring.

Now pay attention because this is important. This is something few are told and even less consider when choosing a partner…ready?

Be very, very certain that if your partner or you ever have a significant health issue that both of you will be committed to each other. That you’ll support each other emotionally because that’s so important. Neither of you can ‘check out’ emotionally because things get scary. Be sure that you’ll both dig your heels in and support one another. Don’t be so selfish that your feelings become more important than her’s regardless of who is ill. Continue Reading…

Don't Be An Asshole Series, Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, Jen Pastiloff, Jen's Musings

I Can Grab My Belly Fat & Make It Talk. I Am Enough. PS- This Shit Is Hard.

June 25, 2015
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By Jen Pastiloff

Hi! Gotta make this quick because I am packing to leave for Italy. I am leading a retreat there starting Saturday. I am not packed and I leave in two hours. I rule.

So, the demons have been back lately. I have been struggling. Who knows why? Free floating anxiety, not-so free floating, the kind that latches on and pulls me down real low to the earth, the kind that sits on my chest and won’t get off like a little bitch. Even when I call it a little bitch, it won’t get off. I have been watching Orange is The New Black and I’m all prisony. And yea, I too have a crush on the new girl on it. Ruby Rose. But I also have a crush on Pennsatucky and Black Cindy and Poussey and Taystee. And the whole show. I want to marry it! I am five years old. I love it so much that I want to marry it.

Anyway, the little bitch that is anxiety won’t get off my chest so my breathing is shallow and  I feel ungrounded, like I am floating, except that sounds kind of nice, and anxiety is not nice, so less like floating and more like a walking dead person. A walking panicky dead person. I hide it well. Probably not, actually. Ask any of my friends who get crazy texts from me.

In case you are new to my blog or my work, I had a severe eating disorder. It still haunts me at times. Anorexia and over-exercising. Like 5 hours a day exercising. Meh. (I probably could do that again if I could watch Orange is The New Black the whole time but nah. Gross.)

I posted this video on my instagram and challenged women (and men if they want to play too) to post a picture or video of their body using the hashtag #iLovemybody and #girlpoweryouareenough. My friend Maggie tweeted me this:
@JenPastiloff I think she’s just saying that you are awesome to accept yourself exactly as you are, when she can’t do the same.

Continue Reading…

Abuse, Guest Posts, healing

An Open Letter To The Rapist Who Claimed My Virginity

June 21, 2015
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beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88Sensitive material: contains mention of rape and sexual assault.

By Kalee Prue

Dear Brian,

I typed your name into the Facebook search box tonight on a whim. I had done it before one other time, years ago. I vaguely remember seeing your blurred smiling face in a baseball cap, and the feeling of disgust that suddenly welled up in the pit of my stomach, I had to click away. This time was different though, perhaps I have grown softer over the years since then and now… and I have surely grown softer in the years since you stole my innocence in the house that “Merch” built. This time instead of just your smiling face that made me want to punch the SCREEN until it shattered into a million pieces, there was two small, beautiful, golden haired, smiles in pink dresses on each side of your dimples… And your smile… was so happy… so radiant with joy sitting there between those two tiny angels, that instead of disgust… instead of rage… the only thing that welled up in me was an overwhelming feeling of joy in my throat for you… and in that instant… just like that, forgiveness happened.

Fifteen years ago you wanted to pretend that next morning that nothing had happened, and I went right along with you out of shame. I made believe while working and selling right along side of you for weeks afterward that nothing had happened. To the few I told, I made believe that we had made love. That I had finally been “made love” to. You pretended nothing had happened to everyone, after all, you were my team-leader and dating each other was inappropriate, as you had been telling me after every time we had kissed up until that point. Of course the same was true after we… well, after YOU had sex with me… but then you moved on very quickly from encouraging my puppy-love crush in the moments we stole off alone together, to dating another girl who was part of your sales “team”. I’m sure I could write pages on what that did to my self esteem, but I won’t… I want to focus on the rape itself. Because YES, Brian, what you did was rape, though it took me years to call it by name. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, healing, Yoga

The Girl I Meet on the Yoga Mat

June 16, 2015
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Book Girl Power: You Are Enough now! Space is limited. Sep 19 Princeton! Sep 20th NYC. The book is also forthcoming from Jen Pastiloff.

Book Girl Power: You Are Enough now! Space is limited. Sep 19 Princeton! Sep 20th NYC. The book is also forthcoming from Jen Pastiloff.

By Janna Marlies Maron

Plank pose. I hold myself up with arms and feet. Blood pulsing through my biceps and I feel strong. Pull belly in and I feel healthy. Holding in plank pose I breathe in; I breathe out. I remember how hard it used to be for me to hold this pose. Just 15 seconds and I started to shake. I could not hold it the entire time and had to lower knees down for support. Today I do not shake. I hold until the teacher instructs us to release.

I pull hips up and back into downward facing dog and stretch heels down to the mat. Hands press the mat away; spine stretches. Again I recall what it was like when I first started practicing yoga. In downward dog, knees bent and heels up. Holding that position and I lost my breath.

I move through the poses and watch myself as if I am not me but another student in the class. I watch and remember what she was like when she first started to practice yoga. Not even when she first started, but when she was the most depressed after her diagnosis nearly three years ago. She felt weak and unhealthy. She spent half the class or more resting in child’s pose. She wondered why she was even there. Continue Reading…

Abuse, Guest Posts

Forever Me and You, In My Memory, Not Yours

June 16, 2015
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Book Girl Power: You Are Enough now! Space is limited. Sep 19 Princeton! Sep 20th NYC. The book is also forthcoming from Jen Pastiloff.

Book Girl Power: You Are Enough now! Space is limited. Sep 19 Princeton! Sep 20th NYC. The book is also forthcoming from Jen Pastiloff.

Sensitive material in this essay: Mention of rape/sexual assault.

By Stephanie Santore

I can’t be in public places because of you. I can’t tolerate large crowds. I can’t tolerate loud noises. This is after almost ten years. You still linger with me. I carry you with me wherever I go. I can’t tolerate strange people asking for a beer and the simple transaction between two humans that requires getting you, that stranger, the beer you need. I’m afraid of the dark. I’m afraid of strange noises, I’m afraid that the headlights behind me having a person behind the wheel that wants to follow me home, knowing I am alone. They all know I am vulnerable. You know I am vulnerable. I carry weapons of various degrees. I never use them. They make me feel safer, just in case. But it doesn’t stop the mistrust. It doesn’t stop the fear. It’s in case you come back for me, in another form, another shape. Or even if you ever decide to come back for me just as you are. Knowing I did nothing. Knowing I am afraid. The girl you knew I was, hence why you chose me in the first place. FUCK YOU. Because you were right.

I never used to be this way until I met you. Yet it’s funny to say that, because I barely know you. I know that I am only a passing moment of supposed pleasure that happened in your life. But to me, you’ve been the bane of my existence. Everything I am. Everything I feel. Everything I do or everything I feel, or everything I have not been able to do or feel, has been because of you.

I like to feel that I am in control my life. But I’m not.  I act like I am. People think I am. Sometimes, I think I am. Sometimes, I really am. But they don’t know you. They don’t know the stranger that took over my life. They don’t know what you’ve done. In the darkness. Hidden within my secrets. In the years of anything other than the truth. I don’t want to admit that you’ve won, because you haven’t. I have faced many battles and still, I have won. You were there for every single one, in the back of my mind. The many silent “fuck you’s” my conscience has voiced, to no one other than me, no one other than you, hoping you get them, somehow, some way, wherever you are.

In a fucked up way, I have you to thank for some of my accomplishments. I have done them out of overcoming you, I have done them to spite you, I have done them to prove to you that I can. I have battled you and won. I have succeeded for many things beyond you. But still, you are always here. You are always with me. Deep down, you are there. You never go away. I suppose you have long forgotten me. But I will never forget you. I think that’s how it’s supposed to go. How you always imagined it to be. You move on. But I get to live with your ghost until I breathe my last breath of this life that is supposedly mine.

Continue Reading…

cancer, Guest Posts, healing, Inspiration

On Fighting Cancer The Second Time Around

June 9, 2015
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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 Realtor.com.

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.

Fuck.

I hate when I’m right. Continue Reading…

Abuse, Guest Posts, The Hard Stuff

A Misguided Hunt for Answers

June 6, 2015
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Sensitive material. Mention of rape/sexual/assault.

By Leila Bruch

I was desperate, so I called his cell phone three times in under an hour. I knew he was free. He was probably watching the phone blow up and crowing to all his roommates that the crazy bitch from a few weeks ago was looking for more.

Next, I sent a text: “You need to call me because we have a problem.” I’ve watched enough TV to know how to use a possible pregnancy to get a recalcitrant man on the line.

Lo and behold, my phone began to ring.

Once his name, “Do Not Answer,” appeared, my stomach turned on me. My brain followed suit, and pleaded for me to let the phone ring. My rage steeled the weaker parts of myself as I answered and spat, “You are one sick fucker.”

On the other end of the phone, my rapist was silent.

“When was the last time you got tested?” I snarled.

I didn’t feel remotely bad about the false pretense. I knew I wasn’t pregnant because the morning after he assaulted me, I ran across Saturday traffic dribbling both ways on a six-lane highway to buy Plan B.

This occurred back when Plan B was only available behind the Pharmacy counter, so I marched to the back of the CVS and muttered my request to the sneering white-coated pharmacist, who passed me a clipboard. I bent my head low and copied my driver’s license number, name, and other probing details on the first open line. All the while, I could feel the pharmacist’s eyes on my unwashed hair.

I pushed the clipboard back when I finished. After she examined the information I provided against my ID, the pharmacist picked up the slim rectangular box by two clawed fingers and dropped it into a bag. I swiped my card for the fifty dollar fee, and when it cleared, I clutched the bag and ran back across the street. I already knew what to do with the two tiny pills; it wasn’t my first time taking Plan B. It was, however, my first time taking Plan B without being certain I’d had inadequately-protected sex.

That’s one of the problems with sexual assault – sometimes, you don’t know what has been done to you.

~

Three days before the pills and several weeks before the call, I was in a group of undergraduate women beginning a semester away from campus with a tour of the library at one of the universities in Washington, D.C.  As we stood around the library’s entrance, we talked awkwardly about our course load, the things we missed about campus, and the internships we’d just started.

Across the hallway stood an attractive Hispanic man with a wide smile. I noticed him, and he noticed me. It didn’t take long for his fixation to become the topic of spirited conversation. “He’s cute,” someone squealed. “Oh, my gosh, he’s coming over here!”

The man sauntered over and offered his hand as he introduced himself as Arnaldo.* He asked for my number and I wrote it on scrap of notebook paper.

Later that night, Arnaldo and I spent an hour on the phone, talking about our families and his career aspirations after law school. When Arnaldo asked if he could take me out the next day, I agreed.

The next evening, plans shifted from a date to kebabs and cards. Arnaldo came to my apartment with three of his friends. I invited the two women in my group who weren’t returning to campus that weekend to join us, and we all wandered across Jefferson Davis Highway to the Kebab Palace.

During dinner, I noticed that Arnaldo’s personality was different than it had seemed on the phone. The night before, he’d talked about family and school, and now he was waxing poetic about his love of partying. I didn’t have much interest in the D.C. party scene, so I zoned out in favor of considering the various items on my weekend to-do list.

Before long, the whole group trooped back to my apartment. Soon, they were all crowded around my dining room table. One of Arnaldo’s friends dealt cards while another explained the game and the third opened a twenty-four pack of cheap, canned beer.

Meanwhile, I escaped to my room, where I scoured my email for a message I’d been expecting from my internship coordinator.

The sound of Arnaldo closing my door startled me. He walked across the room, turned me around, and shoved me against my desk. He kissed me, and I pushed him away.

“Hey, don’t do that,” I said. “I don’t want to kiss you – I barely know you.” I laughed, trying to take the sting off my rejection.

Arnaldo pouted and loitered in my room for a few minutes while I puttered around with my laptop. “Are these your friends?” he asked, pointing up at a series of photo collages taped to the white wall above my bed.

“Yeah.”

“And that’s your family?”

“Yep.”

As I walked to my door, he grabbed my waist and kissed me again. This time, I wasn’t laughing. “I’m serious, Arnaldo. I don’t want you to kiss me. Not tonight.”

Arnaldo trailed me with a hangdog look that stuck around too long.

These should have been my first clues, but I was naïve about Arnaldo’s intentions. I let him stay.

The next day, when I told an ex-boyfriend about what eventually happened, he got hung up at the same crossroads. There was a long silence, which he broke by saying my name. That’s when I knew I was in for a ration of shit; he only used my name when he was disappointed. “Why did you let those guys into your apartment?” he asked. “You hardly even knew them. What did you expect?”

In a few weeks, my ex’s retraction and apology came via Facebook message. “I just finished taking sexual assault training. I realize you didn’t do anything wrong. What he did was wrong. It was not your fault.”

Part of me still didn’t – still doesn’t – buy it. I had invited the rapist in with all his friends. I could have kicked him out at the first sign that he didn’t take “No,” as my real answer. The truth was that I hadn’t.

Continue Reading…

courage, Guest Posts, healing

Gutted

June 1, 2015
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beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Elaine Gale

I am going to trust my gut.

The same gut I ignored in my late twenties when my bipolar, unmedicated, ex-boyfriend got addicted to Xanax, popping more than a dozen a day. I remember the first time it happened, the day he pushed me so hard, my glasses came off my face; they went one way and my body the other, both crashing to the floor. This scene was followed by shock, apologies, promises, new agreements, and lavish gifts.

It was the first tolerated misbehavior in a year of the intolerable, a relationship that finally ended when he announced—still off medication—that he wanted to start going to the local shooting range, a relationship that ended when he bought a Glock and set it on our garden-green bedspread, daring me to leave him for good.

I did. That very day.
I left the house so fast, I didn’t have shoes on.
I never came back.

I loved him, but I loved myself more.

However, the relationship had chipped away at my dignity so much, I didn’t recognize myself. I licked my wounds for several years in the Sonoran Desert, a wounded half-coyote, half-girl, healed by the smell of creosote and sage, and by the relentless warmth of that Tucson sun and a community of women who intervened and relentlessly loved me back to myself.

Love is an intervention.

I am going to trust my gut. Continue Reading…

Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, Jen Pastiloff, Jen's Musings

The Struggle Is Real: Body Love.

June 1, 2015
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By Jen Pastiloff

Body image. Self-love. The struggle is real. Or can be. I keep seeing that hashtag everywhere. #Thestruggleisreal. In this case it is.

But it doesn’t have to be.

What if we embraced our bodies? What if we loved our bodies, belly rolls and wrinkles and grey hairs and our butts and our teeth (even the one that’s missing because you never got an implant, Jennifer.) What if?

The struggle is real. Especially for me, having dealt with severe anorexia and exercise bulimia (I used to work out for four to five hours a day. Really.) But maybe it is for you too. I shared this video on my Facebook (the one below) and it got over 70 thousand hits in a few days. So I guess the struggle is real for more than a few of us. I’m not that special. (Isn’t that just a wondrous epiphany- when we realize that we aren’t that special? It’s so freeing! Weeeee! I am not alone in my fucked-upedness.)

What if our bodies became our best friends? As my friend Wren Thompson-Wynn wrote here on this very site, “My body. It’s the only one who has been with me and experienced everything with me through my entire life. No one knows me like my body does. She really should be my best friend. So why don’t I let her be?”

I realized that in writing Girl Power: You Are Enough, and in leading these workshops, that I have to be held accountable. I have to walk the talk, as they say. whoever “they” are, the powers that be, the ones who watch over you and call you out for being full of shit. I can’t sit here feeling my stomach fall over my waistband and have it send me into a panic induced slump of feeling worthless. That rabbit hole is hard as hell to emerge from. I lived in it for years. I wore platform shoes and waited tables on concrete floors as I secretly grabbed my fat rolls and vowed, “Tomorrow I will not eat. Tomorrow I will be good.”

I saw a video last week that broke my heart. This 37 year old woman, Rachel Farrokh, was begging people to help her raise money so she could get treatment for her anorexia. She weighs 45 pounds, her husband has to carry her up and down the stairs because she is so weak. As I watched it, I said, “I was never that bad.” And I wasn’t. But it’s not hard to imagine. That rabbit hole. There it is again. Just a little more and I will be happy. Just a little more and I will be in control. Just a little more and I will be perfect. Just a little more and I will be enough. <<< BULLSHIT.

You never arrive at the destination of “Yes, I am finally here. I finally love myself,” by starving yourself. NEVER.

I hope she gets the help she needs, I really do.

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So I made this video on set (aka my living room) and people went crazy for it. I wanted to barf a little as I was making it and immediately after but I posted it anyway. You can watch below right here.

 

Continue Reading…

Jen Pastiloff’s Manifestation Workshop: On Being Human. Seattle April 25th.

April 25, 2015
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*Please note that I am doing TWO workshops in Seattle. Saturday April 25th a nd Sunday April 26th.

Book Sat here.

Book Sun here.

You do NOT have to be a yogi or know yoga.

I led 4 sold-out workshops in Seattle in 2014 and I am headed back April 2015. I love my Seattle tribe so much!

Here is a little blurb I just wrote on my Facebook page:

Vulnerability alert: Let me tell you about stepping out of your comfort zone and fear and being ballsy and what that looks like to me. A few years back I started doing these workshops which have since morphed into something else entirely. I have no idea what to name this thing. What to call it. It’s not really a “yoga” thing but I do it at yoga studios and we sit on yoga mats. It’s not really a writing thing because you don’t have to be a writer or even like writing but we write. And we share. And we laugh. And we cry. And it’s heavy but also really really light. And like, how do you describe that? How do you say, call up a studio in Chicago and say, “Hey, I want to come do this thing I do there at your place. I can’t really describe it. You’ll just have to see for yourself. People will come. Trust me.”

And I mean, there’s a deep knowing that I will sell it out (but there’s also the other part of me that’s like, “OMG, you have never been to Chicago or Vancouver or whatever city it is. Who do you think you are?”

But

I do not listen to that voice for very long. I put on my big girl panties and shut that voice up and carry on with my cup of coffee and hush that little voice that says, “How dare you create something that is not definable and expect people will show up?”

Why do I hush that voice?

Because I did do that. I am doing that.

Is it scary as f*ck? Yes.

I do this ALL BY MYSELF. I have no team of agents or managers or bookers. Just some balls. (Well, not really. Betty White says a vagina is tougher than balls, but whatever.) I pull my bootstraps up and carry on.

My word right now is TRUST.

I do not fit into any mold or any “yoga” box or literary box or self-help (it ain’t that, nor is it ‘woo-woo’ or airy-fairy) so I simply have to trust that I am on the right path. That people will keep coming.

A couple weeks ago at my Miami workshop, people drove from all over the state and country. I had a moment where I thought, “This is what trust looks like.”

It’s like that line from the movie Field of Dreams. Maybe that is what I am saying in my long-winded Jen Pastiloff way, “If you build it, they will come.”

They will. they do.

Nonetheless, it’s so nerve-wracking and scary and exciting and all of that, each time I book a workshop. It’s terrifying and exhilarating to stand up there and be totally vulnerable and naked and well, human.

That is why it’s called The Manifestation Workshop: On Being Human.

I know some of you are new to this page as it’s grown quite a lot in the last few weeks and are probably all, “Who the eff is this Jen?” I’m just a human being (as wayne Dyer says, “I am a human being, not a human doing.”) I’m just a human being who is trying to make her way in the world. I bump into a lot of things, I drop a lot, I mess up, I curse. Sometimes I am an asshole (thus, I created the “Don’t be an asshole” series) but every day I am trying to be a better human. I am trying to listen more, to be more open, to be less afraid. That is what my workshop is about. And I intend to take it all over the world. I am.

Is it scary? Yes.

Do I need to trust? Yes.

Do you need to trust more? I have no idea.

Do you? Only you can answer that. I am not going to sit here with my coffee and make blanket statements about you. You need this. You need that. I have no idea. Only you do.

I just know that no matter how freaked out I get that I am going to another country or another city to do my wacky indescribable workshop, I will go anyway. I will lead it as best as I can, with as open of a heart as I can, with my deaf ass ears as open as they can be, with my sense of humor intact. And I will do my best to show you what it looks like to do something even when you are shitting bricks of fear. I love you guys. Here’s to forging into the unknown with grace. xo

Jennifer Pastiloff

Take that, fear!♥

There’s beauty in being afraid, ya know? What does it look like? It looks like doing it anyway.

**Bring a journal and an open heart. There is yoga but you do not have to be a yogi. All levels welcome!

Read this to get an idea of what my workshop is like. 

ps I will also be in Seattle at shefayoga‘s sister studio Hauteyoga Queen Anne Sunday April 26th. Book that one here. 

 

Guest Posts, healing, motherhood

Words Lost and Found

April 9, 2015
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beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Margaret Finnegan

She was in the tub singing Christmas carols. Mid-verse, she stopped. I said, “Are you okay?” She didn’t answer, and I knew then that everything had fallen apart. That after seven years seizure-free, my twelve-year-old daughter, Sia, was having a seizure. But what I didn’t know was that at that moment we were losing her, or, rather, we were losing the essence of her. And it wasn’t to the epilepsy. No. It was to the drug that was supposed to help her.

I should make it clear that I am a big believer in western medicine. I believe in vaccinations and mammograms and pills of all sizes and shapes. But this I know, when it comes to controlling seizures, everything is guesswork: Here, take this yellow pill. No luck? Add the blue pill. Still no luck? How about the white pill? Which leads me to Topamax, a little white pill about the size of one of your smaller baby teeth.

Topamax is an anti-convulsant, and it’s sometimes called dopamax because it makes you stupid, which is why no one starts your kid on Topamax right away. They wait until a bunch of other medications prove ineffective and then they prescribe Topamax. By the time Sia was prescribed Topamax two years after that day I found her in the tub, she had gone from being a spunky if quirky girl to a monster of fear. She was afraid to bathe because of the tub incident. She would say she had showered when she had only gotten her hair wet, and when she got to school her hair would dry into oily ribbons, and on her face she would wear a look of abject terror, and if anyone would talk to her she would tell them how scared she was that she might have a seizure. Of course, those are all excellent ways to drive away friends and to mark yourself as the sick, weak wildebeest of the middle school savanna. Kids she didn’t even know would follow her in the halls and yell, “seizure, seizure, seizure.” Whenever a teacher left the room, boys would turn the classroom lights on and off, knowing full well–because she told them–that flashing lights could actually cause her to have a seizure.

When you are watching your child fall deep into the rabbit hole of victimization and anxiety and depression and friendlessness and hopelessness and seizures, you eventually reach a place where you start to say, “You know what we should do? We should totally remove half her brain,” because that is a treatment for epilepsy. Neurosurgeons remove the part of the brain where the seizures originate and oftentimes that will stop the seizures. But Sia was not a good candidate for brain surgery so instead we continued her on a horrible cocktail of drugs that included the stupid pill, Topamax. Continue Reading…

Abuse, Guest Posts

The Letter No One Wrote My Mother

April 8, 2015
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beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Shawna Ayoub Ainslie.

Dear Mother,

There is so much I need to say to you, because you are a sister to me. In a new way, now. We share a fear of seeing anger in a man’s eyes. We share a fear of those we love being hurt, and hurting those we love. We share a fear of hurting. This love is beyond friendship. We are betrayed. I want to hold you. I want to make myself safe for you. Always, you can cling to me.

For hours, I have walked my floors and washed my hands with tears. You are precious to me. I have known you since your daughter was a baby. With you, I have loved her and watched her grow. Both of you are family to me. I know I said it all wrong yesterday. You left and I thought and thought about how I should have said what I owe it to you and your beautiful daughter to say. Yesterday, I was surprised by what you told me. I was reminded of my history, and I tangled the two. I spoke in sticky webs. Today, I have paced, cried, and vowed to untangle my story from yours. I am putting it to paper.

Here it is.

Fact One: Your husband is hurting your child. He is hitting her. He is kicking her. He is shouting at her, belittling her, destroying her every day.

You believe you are on top of it, though. At the end of each day, you try to reverse any damage. You tell her how wonderful she is. How beautiful. How smart. You say words at her that are the glorious truth of her existence. You tell her he doesn’t mean it when he hurts her. That’s just how he is. He can’t help it. Look at how he was raised.

Fact Two: You are hurting her, too. Every time you try to reverse the damage with words, you reinforce it. Why? Because you let the damage happen in the first place. You choose not to stop it. Every time you tell her that he doesn’t mean it, or that he can’t help hurting her, you are hurting her just as much as your husband is. Maybe worse.

Why? Because someone has to be to blame. If you say it is not him, that means it is either you or her. Since she is the one he is hurting, she will believe it is her. Until she grows up. Then, one horrible day, she will realize it is you. You should have stopped it. Because, when you say that he can’t help himself, you are saying you believe he will never stop hurting her. That he can’t stop hurting her. And you keep him around and let him hurt her. That makes it your fault.

Fact Three: You never knew that you would abuse your child.

You don’t accept what I’m saying.

You do accept what I’m saying.

You hate yourself.

You hate me.

You feel betrayed.

Why am I saying this? This is not your fault.

How could this be happening?

I can tell you. It is real. It is absolutely real. You are hurting your child. You never meant to do it. But you are doing it. And it is happening because, like your daughter, you are also a victim. You know it is true. She is not the only one he tears down. She is not the only one he holds hostage with the fear of that anger in his eyes.

I am so, so sorry.

You feel confused. You don’t know what to do. You packed his bags and met him at the door one night. Told him you wanted him to leave. Things had to change. Somehow, he stayed. Somehow, you let him stay.

You feel angry. Why is he still there? You want him to leave. You want him to make this easy. He could just get out. Why doesn’t he?

You feel guilty. If you turn him out, you’re giving up. And hasn’t he had a hard enough time of life already? You are his partner. You made a commitment. You need to keep your family together.

You feel sad. Continue Reading…

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…

Abuse, Guest Posts, healing

Greg, Me, Pain and The Long, Soft, Green Grass

March 27, 2015
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TRIGGER WARNING This article or section, or pages it links to, contain information about sexual assault and/or rape which may be triggering to survivors.

By Audrey Freudberg.

Greg.

I met him at the outpatient psychiatric program at UCLA.

May, 1996.

He held my hand when I was afraid.

And I was afraid there all the time.

Afraid of the men, especially, because

of the rape.

The rape.

The rape.

The rape.

 

October 1990.

This Minister I was seeing for counseling,

he came to my apartment so I could talk, be comforted, be guided.

Only that afternoon, October 7th, he didn’t let me talk.

He didn’t comfort me and he sure didn’t guide me.

That afternoon he came to my apartment on the pretext of helping me.

He didn’t help me at all.

He helped himself to me, laughing at me the whole time I said No, I don’t want this.

He said, “You want this.  All real women want this.” and ejaculated his slime into my mouth and laughed again because he came in my mouth when I’d told him not to.

He spread himself all over and in my body and broke me into a million pieces of despair and hopelessness.

Hours later he glanced at his watch and said, “Oh shit, I have to go.”  He laughed at me, as he pulled on and zipped up his pants.

I stumbled off the couch and stood, bewildered, lost and no longer me.

He was me and I was gone, sucked up and into his drab olive body.

He laughed again and as he walked out the door he said, “You’re not a nun anymore.”

The screen door slammed behind him and I heard the stomping of his footsteps as he went down the stairs outside my apartment.

I stood, half naked, a few feet from the door, wide open, looking at the screen door.  staring at the screen door.  Soul rotted and stinking of him.

Where was I?

Looking down from the ceiling to where I’d escaped as he violated me in every way on that couch.

Dissociation.

It’s the only thing that kept me from going into the kitchen, getting knife and stabbing it into my chest.

The pain was

unbearable

The shame

was unbearable

The terror

filled my body

as it stood there

and I watched me

walk into the kitchen

to get the Carob Chip cookie I had bought at The Good Earth restaurant earlier that day.

Day?

Night?

It was dark.

The light was on but

it was dark in the kitchen

dark in my heart

dark in my soul.

I ate the cookie

every last little chip and crumb

but still

the pain was

unbearable

the shame was

unbearable

I felt disgusting.

 

Greg held my hand when I had to walk into the group room where the other patients stood chatting and talking or sat quiety on the couches waiting for process group.

 

I wasn’t afraid of Greg.  His soul wasn’t drab and murky olive.  It was shiny, glowing green.  Green like the leaves of the trees in the springtime.

He took my hand in his and as we walked into the room, the shattered pieces of my heart began piecing together, bit by bit.

 

One day we took a picnic lunch to the Botanical Gardens.  I was wearing a mustard yellow shirt with a red, mustard yellow, black and white jumper over it.

A dress.  I was wearing a dress for the first time since

the rape.

The first time because after

the rape

it hadn’t felt safe to

wear dresses.

Greg and I walked hand in hand into the gardens and found a spot on the hill on the west side with long, soft, green grass, green like the leaves in the springtime, green like the kindness of Greg’s soul.

 

We ate our lunch and then

Greg took me onto his lap and wrapped his arms around me.

Safe.

I felt safe with Greg.

Safe for the first time, since

the rape,

since maybe ever.

All I knew was my breath slowed to an easy rhythm, the palpitations in my heart disappeared, the cold in my fingers and toes warmed and I

snuggled in against his beating heart and warm body.

I turned and then we faced each other

and he kissed me

and I kissed him back

for the first time since

the rape

since the Minister bit my lips til they bled.

Greg was gentle, his lips moving softly

against mine.

My heart filled with love

For the first time since before

the rape.

The armor around it melted as I melted

into Greg’s embrace.

My heart opened and filled with love

and I

fell.

I fell in love with Greg

that warm afternoon

in the Botanical Gardens at UCLA.

 

We kissed a long while

and there was excitement

in my belly

for the first time since before

the rape.

Excitement and hope and longing

Greg fed my longings with loving kisses

and I fell

I fell in love again that afternoon

More in love with each moment.

My heart was full and

I didn’t remember the coldness that set in

after

the rape.

The warmth in Greg

warmed me up

and I felt

warm and loved and alive

for the first time since

long before the rape.

Continue Reading…