Browsing Tag

courage

Girl Power: You Are Enough! Vermont with Jen Pastiloff & Lara Heimann

October 20, 2016
March 13 NYC! A 90 minute class for women, girls and non-gender conforming folks (we encourage teens 16 and up) and all levels that will combine flow yoga, meditation, empowerment exercises, connection and maybe, just maybe, a dance party. This will be a class to remind you that you are enough and that you are a badass. It will be fun and empowering and you need no yoga experience: just be a human being. Let’s get into our bodies and move! Be warned: This will be more than just a basic asana class. It will be a soul-shifting, eye-opening, life-changing experience. Come see why Jen Pastiloff travels around the world and sells out every workshop she does in every city. This will be her last class before she has her baby so sign up soon. Follow her on instagram at @jenpastiloff and @girlpoweryouareenough.

 

Jen is also doing her signature Manifestation workshop in NY at Pure Yoga Saturday March 5th which you can sign up for here as well (click pic.)
You Are Enough!

Join Lara Heimann and Jen Pastiloff for the 1st ever Girl Power: You Are Enough weekend retreat in Stowe, Vermont at Stowe Mountain Ranch. This weekend is for girls/women and non-gender conforming peeps only. We welcome people coming alone as well as mothers and daughters and women of all ages! You need ZERO yoga experience/writing experience. Check out the ranch here http://www.stoweretreats.com/. (Please note that we suggest 16 years old as a minimum if you are bringing your daughter but will leave it up to your discretion.Also, you may attend if you are under 18 as long as you have a letter from a legal guardian.)

You just need to be a human being with an open heart and a sense of humor. That’s it.

This is Jen’s 4th year in Vermont. This year she will be bringing her newborn baby boy- so perhaps it is not all women after all. :)

Jen and Lara led two sold out Girl Power: You Are Enough workshops in NYC and Princeton last September. They have realized the huge need for this kind of work.

Here is a letter from Jen, as far as what to expect:

I am so excited to meet you all (or see some of my old friends once again!) I know some of you don’t know anything about me (it’s actually better that way- less expectations) and some probably think you “suck” at yoga or don’t like it. Rest assured. I kind of suck at yoga. Ha! The thing is- the yoga part is not important to me. You will hear me say this throughout the weekend but I simply use it as a vehicle to get us connected to our bodies, to get us to really BE IN our bodies, to allow us to be more vulnerable. I don’t care if you have never done yoga or if you dance instead of doing the poses. The point is to get us connected. Connected to breath and also, to what is underneath all of our incessant mind chatter. Maybe yours isn’t incessant. Mine is.

I will aim to get you a bit hot and sweaty and tired and from there, from there I will give you prompts and lecture and have us share. It’s magical but you will see for yourself. You need to come with a few things: an open mind, an open heart, a sense of humor, a journal and pen.

I also have a policy: It’s called Don’t be An Asshole. Google it and you will probably see some of my videos. By showing up at the retreat, you have agreed on said policy. It’s actually very yogic.

Lara and I work very well together, in very different ways. My work is not concerned with the craft of writing, per se, but I will tell you that hundreds of essays have come out of my workshops. I am interested in getting us to go deeper, without any judgment or self-editing or apologizing. (That is rule #2: No apologizing unless you kick someone in the head please. And that does happen in yoga, on occasion so please do say sorry if you do that.) I am concerned with listening, despite being almost fully deaf. Fierce listening to each other. That is what I am most concerned with. Nothing else. And to experience that, within ourselves and with one another, I do believe we have to be willing to be vulnerable and share our stories. So many people are taught to stuff everything they feel inside or to swallow it. What I am proposing is exactly the opposite.

But to be clear, it is NOT therapy. It is simply listening.

Which I believe to be one of the most powerful things we can do in our lives. Sharing and connecting and seeing what unites us and also what is unique about our own voice. I am interested in letting go of what people think, of challenging beliefs we have about ourselves, other people, and the world at large. My workshop is indefinable. All you have to do is trust me and Lara and show up. Truly, that is it. Come with a willingness to share your shit and your magnificence.

You may or may not have heard my mission statement. “At the end of my life, when I ask one final “What have I done?” Let my answer be: “I have done love.”” That is my goal for my work, my website The Manifest-Station, my relationships, as a mother-to-be, my writing, and for our Vermont weekend. So please, I ask that you let go of what you think you know and embrace the “not knowing.” I am doing this as well. With that, we can go anywhere, in our writing and also, as women, as humans.

I am so excited to see you all and create something spectacular. It’s okay to be a little afraid. I am. Do it anyway. Show up anyway. Therein lies the beauty. We are going to have fun and write our asses off. Feel free to follow me on instagram (where I hang out mostly) at @jenpastiloff or email me at info@jenniferpastiloff.com.

To learn more, read this http://www.lifeisaprettyword.com/blog/being-a-dork-wont-kill-you and this http://themanifeststation.net/2014/09/06/sometimes-its-easy-to-forget-who-we-are-in-the-world/

 

These two powerful women will take you on a life-changing journey. This weekend will be deep and empowering, sweaty and magical. There will be yoga on horses and hikes and hot apple cider and all the gorgeousness Vermont has to offer in the late fall. This is truly a dream come true and space is very limited so please sign up soon. Your $500 deposit is non-refundable, as always. Transportation to and from the center is not included, but once you register, you will be added to a secret Facebook page where arrangements are made and you can discuss carpooling, renting cars or sharing cabs.

This retreat will instill confidence and self-love as well as physical strength. We aim to remind them how strong women are.

The workshop will consist of some yoga (no experience required) as well as journaling and sharing out loud.

This unique retreat truly connects the mind and body. Jen’s workshop combines body movement and writing (as well as a few dance parties and singing and laughing and going upside down ). All levels welcome. Expect to move, sweat, sing, write, dance and laugh as you let go of what is no longer serving you. 

 

Lara Heimann is a physical therapist, studio owner, anatomy junkie, mama of two and animal lover . Lara is a guide ononeoeighttv.com (https://oneoeight.tv/guide/lara-heimann/) along with Jen and she teaches workshops, retreats and teacher trainings internationally. Her classes have been described as “educational as a workshop with the fluidity and challenge of a powerful yoga class.” Her intention is to foster functional strength in a playful way so that you can bring that into your life in all aspects.

Please note: Once you deposit your $500 here, send an email to barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com letting her know which space you would like. Bathrooms are shared.

Triple or bunk- $949

Double Room- $1049

Single- $1300

You can have a look here at the house setup.

 

 

Main Floor – 7 Beds/1 full bathroom/1 full private bathroom

  •  Jackson Hole Bedroom – 1 Queen bed/2 Single beds – Bathroom #1 – private 
full bathroom
  •  Coyote Den – 1 Queen Bed
  •  Black Stallion – 1 Queen bed/2 Single beds
  •  Bathroom #2 – Full Bathroom in the hallway on the main floor

 

East Wing – 7 beds/1 full bathroom

  •  Smuggler’s Notch – 2 Queen beds
  •  Maple Sugar Shack – 1 Full bed
  •  Mad River Suite with Loft – 1 Queen/2 Full beds
  •  Morgan Horse Suite – 1 Queen bed/1 Full bed/2 large couches
  •  Bathroom #3 – Full Bathroom in the hallway of the east wing 
Lower Level – 10 beds/1 full bathroom/1 full private bathroom
  •  Green Mountain Bunk House – 2 Full beds/4 singles – Bathroom #4 – private 
full bathroom
  •  Bingham Falls Suite – 1 Queen bed/1 Full bed/1 single bed
  •  Bathroom #5 – Full Bathroom in the main hallway on the lower level

 

Ring in New Years 2016 with Jen Pastiloff at her Vancouver, BC workshop Jan 23. The workshops are magic! It sells out quickly so book early. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. With a sense of humor. Click photo to book. NO yoga experience needed. Just be a human being

Olivia and her mom Lara (owner of YogaStream.)

Olivia and her mom Lara (owner of YogaStream.)

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Girl Power: You Are Enough, Guest Posts, Manifestation Retreats, Young Voices

What Jen Pastiloff’s Retreat is Like: According to a 22 Year Old.

January 21, 2016
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By Haley Jakobson.
Imagine you are 22 and freshly graduated and suddenly sucked into the city of New York like a vacuum, dust pounding into your ears and grit clouding your eyes. Imagine that you feel very alone, despite your dad being a ride away on the 6 train and your college friends scattered around Manhattan like bread crumbs. Imagine you are depressed with a heavy coating of anxiety, a strong nail lacquer that you can’t chip off with the underside of your fingernail. And now you are at work, and despite all of these things, or maybe because of them, work still bored you and you find yourself scrolling through the vortex of your Instagram feed.

This is when you find her. Somewhere buried beneath the yoga pictures that intimidate you and the dogma that comes with them that sometimes bites you from inside the screen, somewhere beyond the pictures of Saturday night snapshots that might have been forgotten otherwise, and hungover Sunday brunch photos you were invited to be a part of but were too sad to join – you find her. She says: “girl power you are enough.” She says “fuck.” A lot. She says, “don’t be an asshole.” Well, duh, you think – and then remember how often you forget this. You read on. Continue Reading…

Beating Fear with a Stick, courage, Fear, Guest Posts

Footsteps Follow: The Fear Came With Silence

December 13, 2015
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Trigger Warning: This essay discusses the experience of having a stalker.

By Bianca Palumbo

Outsiders – they just don’t seem to understand.  I have been tiptoeing my way around for months, on edge.  I am experiencing something I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. I have been followed, disturbed, and thrown off-guard by a man known only as my stalker.

It all started the year I was graduating from High School, 2014.  I was always actively pursuing new opportunities and working every event that I could.  What I never expected was the possibility of meeting a stranger who would someday haunt me.  No young woman can prepare for the endless nights of fear and unknowing that come in reaction to a stalker.

I have been independent for most of my life. I wanted to work whenever I could, joined clubs and sports teams, volunteered in the community, and that all excelled the day I earned by driver’s license.  It was the summer I was leaving for college that the first email came through.  My stalker had crafted a story about our romantic relationship and all of the bonds we have shared together. Meanwhile, I had no idea who he was.  I only realized where we met when he admitted to finding my information in a staffing email.  This was the first real time my privacy was violated – I felt I could trust no one.

I thought he would go away; thought it would all end on its own, but I was wrong.  For two years he has been sending me stories about our relationship.  His infatuation has become dangerous and I have become a victim to the act of harassment and stalking.  I no longer work too far from home and am nervous going anywhere alone.  My independence has been quickly taken away and I rely on others for personal safety. But, many people underestimate the situation throw my worries to the backburner.  The police and the judge questioned my reasoning to the point where I felt betrayed.  After endless explanations and pleas, it was hard evidence that turned the law around. Continue Reading…

Abuse, courage, Guest Posts, Surviving

Stranger Savior: Escaping Abuse

December 6, 2015
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Trigger Warning: This piece deals with physical and mental abuse and contains graphic language. 

By Candace Roberts

We train our kids to know, “stranger-danger” these days, but my escape from my abuser finally happened by a “stranger-savior”. In a gas station parking lot, I watched the stranger mouth, “monster” as my abuser was ferociously banging my head into the driver side window. I was in the driver’s seat and his hand was reached from the outside with a firm grip on my long dark brown hair. I was in shock and couldn’t believe what was happening.

The woman clung on to her cell phone and called the cops. I saw her mouthing the report off to the dispatcher. She backed up and drove away horrified. That was the first time and the last time I ever saw that angel. I wish I could have thanked her.

I was horrified, too. But, ironically not for my life or safety, rather for my reputation and knowing that I would be embarrassed if any one else saw me in that situation. Continue Reading…

cancer, Compassion, courage, Guest Posts, Surviving

Sailing the Waves of Cancer: Living with a Disease That Won’t Let Go

December 4, 2015
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By Betsy Hnath

It’s been four years since my diagnosis with stage II breast cancer: One and a half of them I spent in treatment, the other two and a half I spent dealing with the aftermath.

As time passes, and my emotional ship sails in relative equilibrium for longer stretches, I try to spend more time on the deck, taking in my surroundings, living in the moment. Then cancer sends up a flare in the distance and my attention is shifted: A random pain, tightness in my chest, or some extra fatigue. These bright, red burning lights remind me it is always there, hovering, perhaps waiting to attack again.

Sometimes cancer is a cannon, launching its missile close enough to graze my bow, as it has recently. When I hear that close friends, young friends, healthy friends have been diagnosed, I begin to sway. I know they will soon begin building their own ship and join the growing fleet that surrounds me of loving, faithful, undeserving patients. I mourn for their loss of the “old normal.” I know what it does to you.

I have to sit back and powerlessly watch during the excruciating 2-3 weeks it takes to learn everything they can about their enemy through scans and tests, and formulate their plan of attack. Nothing can be done to slow down or speed up that time.

I can tell them what I know from experience: that this is the worst of it, this first part. Shifting uncomfortably in scratchy, paper gowns as you wait in sterile, silent exam rooms; the inability to get the smell of hand sanitizer out of your nose; shaking hands with one doctor after another as he or she flips through your life, which has been neatly assembled onto a clipboard. How you can go from feeling normal to completely despondent, sometimes within the same ten-minute span. That ache, burning in your chest, as you inhale yesterday’s Suave when you bend down and kiss your children’s heads as they sleep, wondering how many more nights you’ll get to do it. I can prepare them and reassure them, but in the end they will sail through it on their own just as we all do. Continue Reading…

Addiction, Alcholism, Family, Guest Posts

Poker, Dice Games & Racehorses

December 4, 2015
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By Amy Gesenhues

As of tomorrow, I will have known my husband exactly 20 years, 19 of which we’ve spent married.

I thought it was so romantic, the two of us barely old enough to file taxes, marrying exactly one-year from the day we met.

Now, I know the most romantic thing about us is that we’ve stayed married.  (So far.)

Last weekend, we found ourselves yelling at each at the edge of our backyard. I walked out to ask when he was going to be finished. The weed-eater he was holding was still running. He had on plastic, see-through goggles and the noise canceling earphones he wears when he mows were around his neck.

“When I’m done,” he yelled to me over the buzz of the weed-eater.

I gave him that look. My head slightly tilted, my hands on my hips, an eye-roll then a stare.

“You’ve been out here three hours.”

I wanted to play tennis later that day and was trying to determine if I needed to feed the kids before I left, or if he could take over dinner duty.

From there the conversation went from zero to 60 in about five seconds – 60 being his utter frustration over my lack of interest in the state of our landscape.

“I’ve been out here all day, and still need to weed the front, and you’re complaining because you want to go play tennis.”

Writing it all down now, I see he had a valid point.

My husband is most fulfilled with a job well-done. He’s a big proponent of prep work, and likes to start his day by listing all the things he plans on accomplishing.

I like to play. The last thing I want to hear first thing in the morning is a list of things I have to do. I have no regrets spending a day drinking coffee, reading, staying in my robe until noon. Continue Reading…

courage, Fear, feminism, Guest Posts, Women

On Being an Unnatural Woman

November 20, 2015
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By Leah Wyman

I’m walking in the the rainforest, debating whether or not to put in my iPod headphones to ease my jitters.

For a country with “Pura Vida” as its motto, Costa Rica can be an anxiety-provoking place for somebody who’s a borderline agoraphobic.  But here I am, covered in mud, my clothes sopping with sweat, swatting at bugs and moss, feeling all kinds of outdoor unknowns prickly all over me. I’m exhausted, I’m lost in the wilderness, and I’m grappling with the surreal situation I find myself in.

I had followed the map closely, I thought, but got turned around as to whether to climb up the creek bank or down the creek bank to get to the waterfall I was seeking. To most seasoned outdoorsmen (or just anyone who gets the concept of how rivers work), this wouldn’t be a mental struggle.

But hell if I knew—and downstream seemed conceptually like less of a labor. No guide, no common sense–just the great outdoors and me, scaling rocks and branches, sloshing my boots into deep pools, petrified of snakes, and talking to myself through this anxious situation.

You’re doing real good Leah, reeeeeeal good. You got this. I sputtered, spooked by weird animal and bug sounds and the rustle of leaves. I threaded the headphone cord in and out of my fingers. Maybe a little Katy Perry telling me I was a ‘Firework’ would spur me on.

Nature has always known its relationship with me: respectfully guarded but also utterly hysterical. It’s moved past dubious and now it feels like fact: the environment and its inhabitants are tickled by me. Mother Earth needs amusement like the rest of us, and I feel like the laughingstock of the terrestrial community.

As with most suburban brats, anything remotely wild in my past happened in zoos.

With my class at the primate exhibit at Brookfield Zoo I was standing completely unawares when I suddenly felt a nasty, mealy, putrid paste being flung repeatedly at my face and body. One of the so-called majesties we were admiring with awe had just thrown its shit at me. Gorilla feces all over me. In my hair, in my eye, all over my new sweater from the Gap, which I’d gotten for Christmas, which I really liked.

I was crying and humiliated while my teacher tried to wipe soapy water through nooks and crannies of cable knit. Mrs. Scott walked me to the zoo store and picked out a nerdy t-shirt with a baby otter that exclaimed “I Otter Be at the Brookfield Zoo!” for me to wear the rest of the day. (God bless you, Mrs. Scott). Continue Reading…

courage, death, Fear, Guest Posts, healing, Inspiration, Vulnerability

#MyLifeMatters

November 10, 2015
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By Klyn Elsbury

A few nights ago, I was wrapped in a blanket, lying on top of an RV off of a scenic overlook in Utah staring up at a sky full of endless, scintillating stars. The air was cool and crisp, delightfully tickling my lungs as they adjusted to the altitude. A handsome man with a beautiful soul was holding my hand and pointing out Venus to the south. Together, we were dreaming about the future. Something that until Orkambi came, I had all but given up on.

I dropped out of college because I started getting hospitalized several times a year, and I believed I would never live long enough to pay off my student loan debt.

I moved to California from Florida for a career in biotech/pharmaceutical recruiting so I could be closer to the companies that were developing the very drugs that would keep me alive. That would give me hope. When I started getting hospitalized every 4 months, I made the choice to leave my corporate career and preserve my lung function via exercise, diet, and adherence to prescriptions that managed the symptoms. I tried to get in on every clinical trial for Orkambi, before it was even called Orkambi, but time and time again I was denied because my lung function was too unstable.

He squeezed my hand excitedly, “did you see that?” referring to a shooting star that emblazoned an almost pitch black night. My heart skipped a beat. I shut my eyes and made a wish that one day, someday soon, I would be on this drug. I opened my eyes to see him smiling back at me.

For the first time in a long time, I believed I would have a future again. I was the first person in clinic the day after Orkambi was approved. However, they couldn’t write a prescription because I needed to go on IV antibiotics first. My lung function was around 50%. It was my 3rd round of IVs this year alone.

Meanwhile, one of my girlfriends locally who got approved for the drug, posted on Facebook that for the first time in years, she woke up without coughing. I can’t imagine a morning where an alarm clock wakes me up instead of a violent core-shaking, gut busting cough.

“Wow!” We both said in unison at yet, another shooting star. Who is lucky enough to see two of them in one night sky? Just moments apart? Surely this means there are good things to come. Waking up without a cough became my second wish. Continue Reading…

cancer, courage, Guest Posts, healing, Yoga

My Love Letter To My Yoga Teachers

October 30, 2015
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By Alexa Shore

At 44 years old, I never thought I would get cancer. I never ever thought I would get it twice.  I never thought my yoga practice would save my life.

I knew something was wrong. I felt nauseous, had food cravings, felt as if my hair was falling out— was I pregnant? I went to the doctor to get a blood test and physical examination. I was handed a slip for a mammogram the following week.  That weekend, I went for a hike. I felt a lump. I went back to the doctor.

My oncologist said I was “lucky” after being diagnosed with “early detection” aggressive HER2+ breast cancer. Lucky?  That I have cancer? The second time I got breast cancer, I heard the words again. I finally got it. Both times, yoga had taught me to be so aware of my body, that I knew something was wrong. The second time around, I had the voice to speak up and say something was wrong – again. I caught my own breast cancer, twice, before it could metastasize to my brain, bones, liver and lungs.

I was healthy and I practiced yoga. I was not immune to cancer. People asked me questions about diet, environment, and personal habits to try to understand why I got cancer, and then, why it came back. I wanted to understand too.  I was told by one doctor “cancer creates change” I began to think …

I am a single mom, love my children, my family, my friends, my work, yoga, sunsets, and dancing. Change what? My body was strong; my mind positive and optimistic. So I sat and thought. How is Alexa? Did I truly have balance? Did I make time for me while juggling everything I did for everyone else?  Was I stressed? Did I feel resentment that I did not have time for myself? I bought gifts for myself and traveled to amazing places, but what about me? My spirit? Is this why I got sick? Could I have actually enabled cancer to grow? Continue Reading…

Abuse, courage, Guest Posts, Sexual Assault/Rape

La Llorona

October 29, 2015
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By Alma Luz Villanueva

I lived in Santa Cruz, California, for sixteen years while my youngest son grew up, became a surfer, a runner, and went off to university. So, when I heard that eight-year-old Madyson Middleton was missing from the Tannery Arts Center, where she lived with her mother, I immediately began to worry in a personal way. Also, one of my granddaughters is exactly Madyson’s age, and I was to find out later that she knew Maddy from school. And so, the night of July 26, 2015 I kept checking for updates- was she found yet. Then I finally gave up, went to sleep after midnight. I kept seeing her large, beautiful, child eyes, awake when I checked the clock, back to dreaming. In the very pit of my stomach, where the truth lives, I knew she was no longer alive- but I refused to believe it. And her mother, her young mother- I imagined what she was going through. Her beloved child missing.

I felt the horror in every cell of my body like small fires. And I remembered myself at seven, an older thirteen year old friend saying it was okay to go to the park by ourselves. Buena Vista Park, San Francisco, the early 1950s. I was wearing a brand new dress and twirling around because I thought I was beautiful, special, in my brand new dress. My grandmother had made large curls on my thick, dark hair, held by barrettes- I remember they matched my dress, soft pink. I never left the street by myself, my grandmother, Mamacita, watching me from the window as I rode my Hopalong Cassidy bike with rainbow streamers on the handlebars. She’d yell my name, “ALMA,” and I had to answer like a song we knew together. Alma means Soul, and she’d often say (in Spanish), “Tu eres mi Alma…You are my soul.”

When my older friend, Peggy, and I got to the playground area we had swinging contests to see who could go higher. Of course, she was stronger as her feet pierced the sky much higher than mine. But I didn’t mind, I remember I was just happy to be swinging with my new dress blowing around me. I remember wondering if Mamacita was calling my name, waiting for me to sing back to her. I remember wanting to go back suddenly, like a pain my eight-year-old stomach. Continue Reading…

Grief, Guest Posts, healing

Room Full Of Wounded

October 26, 2015
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By Larry Patten

My questions were casual.

Sarah’s blunt answers weren’t.

“Sarah” is a pseudonym. I know several nice Sarahs, and this pretend Sarah certainly fit into the nice category. To further protect confidentiality, I’ll dub her friend as “Aspen.” Both women were in their mid-twenties, assistants on the staff where I did physical therapy for a troublesome left knee. They comfortably joked with patients, shared encouraging words, and often took extra moments to make sure those of us in therapy knew the whys and hows of what we were doing.

On this day, Sarah was the one reminding me which exercise was next. She brought me the yellow flexible ball to help stretch my lower body, and later set the timer for how long I should move my limbs back and forth, side to side. I usually bantered with her, though sometimes I silently plowed through the series of exercises.

When finished with the yellow ball, I asked Sarah a casual question that led to her blunt answers.

“Aspen told me she started working here because you recommended her for the job. Is that true?” (See . . . just a casual conversation with a casual question.)

Sarah grinned. “Right. She graduated from college and didn’t know what to do next. I told her she should give this a try.”

“How’d you and Aspen meet?” (Still casual, right?)

Sarah paused. Or did she? Did I later, recalling our spontaneous exchange, add a pause?

“Aspen was good friends with my fiancé. He died a couple of years ago.”

Just like that.

Sarah, always vibrant and bubbly as she helped the patients, had quietly disclosed some of the worst news in her young life. We continued talking while others around us worked their shoulders or knees or hands, all trying to recover from damaged bodies. In brief, hushed sentences, Sarah told me about her fiancé dying in a motorcycle accident, and how important that her caring family and friends (like Aspen) had been and continued to be. I mentioned my work at a hospice in bereavement support, where I spent time with those mourning the death of a loved one.

I suspected Sarah had other conversations like the one with me. While she may have extended our chat after learning about my job and sensing my “expertise,” her initial response was to just another one of her patients with a cranky knee. I wondered if her sharing had once included tears or that she simply never volunteered any information. But now, if someone asked about her life—to get to know her better, to deepen a potential relationship—had Sarah decided to let people hear the hardest truths? I think her honest, unadorned words were like sentries on a castle wall, warning about an approaching threat. After all, many of us dread conversations about death. Everyone who has had a loved one die like Sarah has probably experienced strangers, co-workers, and even “close” friends abruptly changing the subject. Worse yet, some people literally avoid the subject and the grieving person.

Her fiancé had died because of the negligence of another driver. Once a soldier in Afghanistan, he’d survived a tour-of-duty only to return home, dying on a tree-lined suburban street on a sunny day. He and Sarah had hopes and dreams, but now she told his (and her) terrible story to me. One day alive. The next day . . .

Sarah thanked me for listening. She smiled, guileless and unwavering. Still with that smile, Sarah told me to get started with my next exercise. Tough woman.

A few moments later, she swung by the raised table where I was finishing leg lifts. She whispered, “See the guy over there?”

I nodded. He looked to be in his early seventies. He was lean, seemingly in good shape. However, as he stepped up-and-down on a platform, I detected a hitch in his right knee. He, like me, was grappling with a leg injury.

“He lost his wife a week-and-a-half ago,” Sarah continued in her whisper. “So, so sad.”    Lost. Gone. Died.

I did my final leg lifts. Out of the corner of my eye I watched the lanky man with the slight weakness in his right knee step up-and-down. Up-and-down.

Sarah departed to assist a newly arrived patient.

Some injuries are easily seen. Others are invisible. Some injuries, with hard work, will heal. Others remain, a hitch in the soul.

Lost. Gone. Died. The room was filled with the wounded.

Aren’t all rooms?

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Larry Patten  is a writer, a United Methodist minister and currently serves as a Bereavement Support Specialist at a hospice in Fresno, California. He has had essays published in his local newspaper (Fresno Bee) and national magazines like Spirituality and Health. Along with working on a novel, he maintains www.larrypatten.com (musings about faith) and www.hospice-matters.com (thoughts about dying, death, and grief). 
Continue Reading…

Anxiety, Guest Posts, healing, The Body

Lick ‘em On

October 24, 2015
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By Jane Ratcliffe

I reached toward my bowl of oatmeal.  Before me, I noticed a pair of hands.  Faintly red with raised blue veins, they floated in the shallow morning light.  I drew a sharp breath.  I lived alone.  The doors were locked.  Who could be in my house?  Unnerved, I kept watching the hands.  The colors glowed, the skin like the bark of a young tree.  Then I recognized the ring: an oval diamond set amidst tiny dots of turquoise and topped with a bright ruby.  My ring.  Therefore, my hands.

It was March, 2008.  These were my first moments of brain injury, although I didn’t yet know this was what was happening.  It was like watching my life on a high definition television screen. I was in my body.  Everything around me was vibrant and precise.  We were just in two separate worlds.

***

Exactly a decade earlier, on March 9th, 1998, I was temping in a furniture showroom in New York City, helping the owner with some office work.  A huge wooden tabletop hung over the manager’s desk.  I was there for a week and each day I said to her, “Aren’t you afraid that’s going to fall on you?”  She laughed.

Nevertheless, I wouldn’t go near her desk.  Until the end of the week, when I daringly strode over to get a stamp and, bam, the rope snapped and the tabletop fell on my head.

“A tabletop fell on my head,” I said, laughing so hard tears rolled down my face.

“A tabletop fell on my head,” I said again, as my vision shut off, then returned.

“A tabletop fell on my head,” I repeated, as now my hearing went, then returned. Continue Reading…

courage, Guest Posts, Racism

The Last Pep Rally

October 23, 2015
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By Jane O’Shields-Hayner

It was during that last, fragmented year of college when I found myself standing, once more, in a hot and rowdy crowd at what would be my last pep rally. My sorority required my attendance, to demonstrate support for the next upcoming football loss.  My school lost pretty much all the time in those days and I had no real interest in football.

This was my fourth year of college and I was twenty-one years old.  This semester I had registered for fifteen units of classes, and not attended a single one. Without a conscious thought, I had devised a simple way to sabotage my life.

My life was college life, and college was the vehicle I used to meet my whims. As a student, I could stay up late and hang out every night. I could dress in magazine fashions and boogie at the kind of parties where everyone drank as much alcohol as their gut would allow, then smile for photographs holding a paper cup while the blue light from the photographer’s flash bulb ignited and smoked.

I wasn’t new at slacking, but this year I had pushed slackhood past the point of no return. I dressed and drove my car from sorority row each morning while my friends left for class. Instead of parking at the main campus, walking inside a limestone building and facing one of the many professors I had never seen and never heard, I drove off in one of several other directions. I pointed the long nose of my yellow Mustang toward the highway, pushed on the accelerator until my toes touched the floor and dreamed I was flying. Three hundred horses of power propelled my wagon of yellow steel toward the horizon and then I was free. With a thrill in my heart, I raced past the contradictions, troubles and lies of my scrambled and misdirected life.

Continue Reading…

courage, Gender & Sexuality, Guest Posts, Inspiration, Self Image, Self Love, Truth

What’s In A Name?

October 22, 2015
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By Cassandra Pinkus

I never was very good at writing in cursive. I remember in the second grade hearing another student mention that the teachers in the higher grades didn’t care if your homework was written in cursive or not. Right then I figured, if they don’t care later, why should I do it now? I started turning in my homework in print on that day, and never wrote another word in cursive for years.

Sometime later in my childhood I learned that sometimes you need to put your signature on certain papers. It seemed that the only expectation for a signature was that it be written in cursive. I didn’t know what to do. It didn’t matter that much though, because I didn’t need to sign my name very often.

I thought of when I saw my mother or my father sign their name. Whether on a report card or a check, the pen-strokes were always quick. It was clear that it was not the letters that counted. When they were done, I could make out clearly the first letters of each name, and all the rest seemed to descend into mad squiggles. When I went to sign my own name, somewhere I understood that no one would read the letters.

A first mark to indicate the name’s beginning, followed by a wave of jagged ink. A second mark to indicate the name’s end, and another cacophony of squiggled lines. The signature was not a thing to be read, but an action to be performed. It was done not when it was received, the way one writes a letter. It was done when the signatory had left their essence drying on the page. Continue Reading…