Browsing Tag

karen salmansohn

Gratitude, Guest Posts, How To, Inspiration

The Many Dangers of Complaining.

August 23, 2014
POSTER-COMPLAING-TW.2!!

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-blackBy Karen Salmansohn

Everybody talks about the importance of appreciation – how it’s such a big-time happiness booster. Truth be told, appreciation very much deserves all the attentive, flattering PR it receives!

poster-being-negative-anti-charisma-MED.jpg

But today I’d like to discuss with you the dangers of appreciation’s extreme opposite: depreciation. First of all, let me state clearly that “depreciation” is not simply the absence of appreciation. It’s actually the presence of focusing on problems, flaws and disappointments. Some standard definitions of depreciation: to lessen the value of; to belittle; to represent as being of less merit. There are a lot of people out there who are depreciators – walking around, looking for things to complain about – even when they have many reasons to rejoice. They speak in sentences that begin with “but” or “if only” or “what if.” As a result, depreciators wind up devaluing a lot of good stuff they should be feeling quite giddy about! By decreasing the value of what’s around them – they decrease the love, joy and inner calm they feel in their lives.   Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, Yoga

Things Don’t Happen To You- They Happen For You.

July 29, 2014
lotus

By Karen Salmansohn.

If you want to be happy, you have to embrace your Karma and Dharma! If you don’t know how, here’s a helpful Legos analogy  – inspired from my Yoga Teacher Training at Ishta Yoga! Read on…

My 3 ½ year old son Ari has a passion for Legos – even bigger than his passion for pizza. I know this –  because when Ari’s busy with his Legos, not even pizza can pry him away.

Although Ari loves building Lego structures from boxed sets, he gets an even bigger kick out of taking huge scoopfuls of old Legos (which we keep in plastic buckets) then building the pieces into “One-of-A-Kind Creations.” I call Ari a Master Builder – a term swiped from the most recent Lego movie to describe someone who’s innovative – who thinks outside of the (Lego) box.

So – what’s this have to do with Karma and Dharma? An interesting synchronicity united these concepts for me this week.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts

If You Have (Or Have Had) Toxic Relationships of Any Kind, Read This Now. By Karen Salmansohn.

March 21, 2014

By Karen Salmanshohn.

poster-desperation-or-determination.jpg

Warning! This story includes a naughty word – however –  this word is necessary  – because its shock-value is what catapulted me to change my life. I share this naughty word now with only the most loving intentions – hoping it might be an empowering caffeinated jolt to any sleeping spirits out there!

About a decade and a half ago I used to joke that for me all dating should be re-named ‘blind-dating” – and instead of saying I was “seeing someone right now” – I should be more honest, and say, “I’m dimly viewing someone.”

I remember I was once “dimly viewing” this particular guy. I’ve written about him before  (here in an article about good compromise vs. bad compromise) . I explained how every time I said this guy’s name, my girlfriends would sing the theme song to Batman. Not because this man looked great in black Spandex tights. No, no. It was because he was a bad man.

“Dadadadadadada Bad-man! Bad-man!” my girlfriends would sing, right after I’d finish telling a particularly bad Bad-man episode—of which there were many.

Let’s call this ex of mine “Bruce Wayne” – to protect his not-so-innocent secret identity.

Today I want to share something I never told you about Bruce.

Ready?

Bruce’s “dadadadadada bad-behavior” began very early on – a few weeks into our relationship.

Yep, right out of the gate Bruce displayed what I felt were highly controlling and paranoically jealous behaviors.

Yet I continued to date him.

I even went away with Bruce for a week long vacation in Turkey – where we had a very big fight one evening.  I made a silly joke to our Turkish waiter – who then laughed – and touched my shoulder before he left our table. Bruce then became convinced that I was flirting with this Turkish waiter. He specifically wanted to know if I’d rather be dating this waiter – a man who could barely speak English – plus lived well beyond a 5,000 mile radius of my zip code. I kept reassuring Bruce I was not the teeniest bit interested in this Turkish dude – yet Bruce refused to talk to me for a full two days of our vacation!

When I came home from vacation, I sought out therapy. I found a nice older psychotherapist, named Sid, who eventually became like a “grandfather from another great-grand-mother.” I adored Sid.

“You’ll never believe what Bruce said/did last night,” I’d begin each and every therapy session. And then I’d launch into another “Dadadadadadada Bad-man Episode”!

“Bruce said he doesn’t want me to have brunch with girlfriends on weekends anymore – unless he comes along.”

“Bruce told me he doesn’t want me to take an evening painting class – because he thinks I just want to meet someone.”

“Bruce told me he doesn’t want me to go to the gym  – because he thinks I just want to meet someone.”

“Bruce told me he doesn’t like it when I come home happy from work – because he worries I enjoy work more than him! He actually became angry the other day because I came home so happy!”

Each week I’d tell Sid story after story – quickly followed by rationalization after rationalization – always explaining why I should stay with Bruce.

“You know what your problem is Karen?” Sid asked me one session.  “You’re so smart, you’re stupid.”

I laughed. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You are able to over-think things so much – that you wind up talking yourself out of what you already know.”

“So you think I should break up with Bruce?” I asked.

Sid sighed loudly. “I’m a therapist. I’m not supposed to tell you what to do. But if you want my honest opinion… I can’t believe you’re gonna stay with him, when he’s an asshole.”

“Wow! I can’t believe you just called Bruce an a***hole,” I said. “But you’re right, he is an a**hole.”

“Actually, I didn’t call HIM an a**hole! I called YOU an a**hole. You heard me wrong. I said, ‘If you continue to stay with Bruce, then YOU are an a**hole.’”

“What? I’m not the a**hole! Bruce is the a**hole!”

“At this point, Karen, if you stay with Bruce knowing what you know – then YOU are the a**hole.”

“I’m the a**hole?” I repeated this word out loud –  a word as opposite in content as a mantra could ever be – but alas, more powerful than any mantra I’d ever used.

This word “a**hole” became my wake up call!

Sid was right. If I stayed with someone who was so very toxic to my well being  – then I became the A**hole to me – for allowing this soul-crushing, freedom-squelching relationship to continue!

“Listen, Karen,” Sid said,  “at this point in therapy we are simply wasting time talking about Bruce – and how messed up he is. Quite frankly, you are only using stories about Bruce to distract yourself from your real issues – and the important inner work you have to do on yourself. It’s time we talk about the white elephant in the room: your wounds! There’s obviously something very wounded inside of you, that you feel the need to stay with Bruce – when he is so toxic.”

Although this story happened well over a decade ago, I think about it often. I particularly think about it whenever I’ve found myself starting to enter into what I intuit might be a toxic relationship –be it in love, business or friendship.

I feel if we’re not careful we can all find ourselves wasting a lot of precious tick-tocking time complaining about how badly someone is behaving towards us.

I believe we need to stop asking questions like:

“Why is this person treating me this way?”  

“Why did this person do that crappy thing to me?”

“What is wrong with this person?”

“Are they an a**hole?”

“Are they a sociopath?”

“Are they a narcissist?”

“Isn’t this person simply just a terrible person?”

The really important questions we should be asking instead are:

“What did I miss in the vetting process that I allowed this person into my life?”

“What is wounded inside me that I choose/chose to stay with this person for as long as I do/did?”

“How can I grow from this experience – so it doesn’t repeat itself into a bad pattern?”

“Do I want to make this a story about how I was a victim – or how I became a victor?”

“Do I want to waste my time, thoughts and energy on toxicity or use it for a higher purpose?”

“Aren’t I wise and strong for how I moved on to be with better people and live better days?”

If you’re presently caught up in telling stories about the toxic misbehaviors of someone – the time has come to stop getting caught up in name-calling, contempt and blame.

The time has come to recognize you’re just distracting yourself with all the drama, chaos and static!

Yep, the more you stay with and/or complain about a toxic person, the more you’re merely delaying doing the important inner work you need to do – to heal your wounds, expand your limiting beliefs, and show yourself far more love and respect.

All of this time expended on them could be time spent on expanding you – growing who you are!

My lesson/your lesson: Don’t be an a**hole to yourself. Stop staying with (and/or complaining about) toxic people. Choose to focus your time, energy and conversation around  people who inspire you, support you and help you to grow you into your happiest, strongest, wisest self.

TWEET THIS NOW:  If you have (or had) toxic relationships of any kind, read this essay now –  via @notsalmon

Want to enjoy a happy, safe-feeling, committed love relationship? Check out the tools in my OPRAH.com recommended Prince Harming Syndrome. I offer free excerpts too! Click here now! For a limited time Prince Harming Syndrome is discounted – to only $9.99 – as a convenient ebook – you can download onto your computer or ipad, Kindle, Nook – anywhere you can read a PDF– and you can start reading it right away! Grab it now – while it’s still discounted! More info, an FAQ and praise can be found by clicking here now!

I’d love to hear your insights on the comment section below! What’s something which comes to your mind and heart when you read this list Share your personal story or a personal happiness tool! I LOVE it when you share – because I love to find out about my community! Plus, many thousands of peeps read these essays – so, what you share could be a helpful inspiration for someone else! xo Karen

click Karen's poster to connect with her!

click Karen’s poster to connect with her!

Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer living on an airplane and the founder of The Manifest-Station.  She’s leading a Retreat in Costa Rica at the end of March and a weekend retreat in May to Ojai, Calif as well as 4 day retreat over Labor Day in Ojai, Calif. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing for all levels. She and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. Check out her site jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up is Dallas followed by Seattle and London. 

 

Beating Fear with a Stick, beauty, Books, cancer, courage, funny, Guest Posts, healing

Shit Happens. To Everybody.

February 13, 2014

My Road Trip to Kripalu by Joules Evans.

A few months ago I was up late counting sheep, when some shit I’d been dealing with must’ve hit the ceiling fan over my bed and started splatting all over the sheep, spotting them like 101 Dalmatians. Which kinda felt like a spoiler alert to the sleeping game I was trying to win. So I stopped counting shitty sheep and I prayed a little. Which is probably what I should’ve been doing about my shit in the first place instead of kicking it around a bit, and then, kicking myself for making such a mess. I’m assuming we all know how messy metaphorical shit can get when you kick it around. Now, I know I’m not supposed to go assuming, but I figure it’s legit in this case, since there’s no such thing as a shit vaccine. I don’t think there is a sequel or grown-up version of the children’s book, Everyone Poops. But I could see it being called something like, Everybody is Full of Shit. Well, at least, I know I am, on a pretty “regular” basis.

Anyway, after all of that ruckus I sort of pulled it together a bit. I wasn’t in the mood to go back to counting sheep quite yet so I woke up my computer, and Googled: “yoga, writing, cancer, retreat” to see where it would lead. Yeah, that third word is some of the shit I was dealing with. The first two are a couple of ways I try to deal. And the last word sounded like a good thing to do when you’re up to your sleepy eyeballs dealing with your own shit.

poster-yoga-cat-med

poster by Jen’s friend Karen Salmansohn. Click to connect with Karen.

Google threw down an article Jen wrote for LIVESTRONG called “7 Reasons To Go On A Yoga Retreat”.  No shit.  This was my introduction Jen Pastiloff and her Manifestation Retreats. It didn’t take me long, after falling head over heels into the lovely vortex that is Jen’s tribe, from the Gateway of that LIVESTRONG article, to Facebook stalking her, and then staying up all night watching her YouTube channel, to realize (become enlightened;) that Manifesting is aka Making Shit Happen, in Jen speak. Which, translated, meant that of course I had to go. I hadn’t tried manifesting my shit before so I thought I’d give it a “swirly”.

I’d already practically nodded my head off, agreeing with her 7 reasons I should go on a yoga retreat. As if, in fact, my body was, literally, saying YES. So I booked the next available Manifestation retreat, which meant packing up my shit for a road-trip to Kripalu in January. I don’t usually buy gifts for myself but this was a gift I needed to give myself. I saw it as the perfect diving board into 2014—a gift, which, 5 years ago when I was diagnosed with cancer, I never even imagined. It was time to re-imagine, cast a vision, set course, and dive in. Head first. No tiptoeing about it.

IMG_2346

When I first walked in the door, I had a pretty intense moment of truth. I didn’t know anybody. And, I’m actually super shy. Luckily I have blue hair, so I don’t think anybody noticed my knees shaking like green Jell-O when I walked across the room like Gumby and plopped down to join the tribe 40 women sitting in a circle, like lotuses blooming. As bold a display as it was a beautiful bouquet.

“If you knew who walked beside you at all times on this path which you have chosen, you would never experience fear or doubt.” Jen kept repeating this quote as we went around the circle introducing ourselves to one another. Over the weekend we got to know who walked beside us. We unrolled our mats, unpacked our shit, turned it on its smelly ear in down dog, wrote down the bones, made them dance, shared our stories and our dreams, tore up our excuses, became friends, and each other’s fans. We spent the weekend as beauty hunters, making lists and lists of our #5mostbeautifulthings. This is one of the most. fun. games. EVER. We shared our beautiful things, but we also shared our shit—because love is messy like that sometimes, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful.

Shit happens. To everybody.  Except when you’re constipated. And then you just sit on the toilet reading Leaves of Grass for what feels like forever; meanwhile shit’s just taking its own sweet time while you’re sitting there waiting for the shit to go down. Oh, shit’s gonna go down. And sometimes it’s going to hit the fan.

Shit happens. But so does beauty, and what if it hits the fan? Does it leave a beauty mark or make a beautiful mess? Sometimes you get dealt a shitty hand but sometimes you double down or play a wildcard and beat the dealer. Sometimes you’re up shit creek but at least you’re on a boat. You may not have a paddle, but at least you’re sipping red wine in your flippie-floppies with your girls on deck. Anything is possible. Even making good shit happen. Which is pretty much what a Manifestation Retreat, what Jen Pastiloff, is all about.

Post road trip to Kripalu, I’d have to say, that the shit that drove me there, and the beauty I came away with, are two sides of the same coin. I put so much pressure on myself to not waste this gift of life, but to hopefully leave a beauty mark—that I was here. This is what keeps me up in the middle of the night. I put so much pressure on myself not to waste a second of the gift of time that I’ve been given, but to spend myself, paying forward the gratitude I feel all the way down to my yoga toes—by making it count that I was here. This is what keeps me up in the middle of the night. I don’t ever want to take for granted the gift of a single breath, but sometimes I forget to breathe. This is why I drove to Kripalu. I don’t ever want to take for granted the gift of a heart that beats, or forget what it beats for. This is why I drove to Kripalu.

Jen summed it up best when she wrapped up our time together with these words, this mantra: “At the end of your life, when you say one final ‘What have I done?’ let your answer be, I have done love.”

#iamlove

That’s all.

(Except for the part where I express my gratitude to Jen, Kripalu, and the tribe. Peace, love, and namaste. *bows to your unapologetic awesomeness. Xoxo.)

About Joules: I’m a Christ follower. I wear a pink bracelet that says survivor. I think cancer is a bitch. Been there. Done that. Had to buy a new t-shirt. But… I also think God is good. He’s been good to me. I just finished writing a book: SHAKEN NOT STIRRED… A CHEMO COCKTAIL about the cancer chapter in my life. Right now I’m in the midst of editing it and pursuing publication. I’m having the time of my life. I am an INFP. My hub is an INTP (also Buzz Light-year by day.) We have three ridiculous amazing kids who wake up and make me feel blessed. We call them “the Redheads”. After 16 years of homeschooling, we’ve all graduated and I’ve since retired my red pencil and grade-book. Between college, mission trips, internships and world travels, are three all in the process of divebombing out of our cozy little nest aka “the Evanshire” and stretching my apron strings till they snap. Next fall we will singlehandedly be keeping afloat the University of Cincinnati. I love my fam, Vineyard Cincy, writing, red wine, black coffee, good books, cooking, the smells of my hub’s pipe and freshly cut grass, star-gazing (clouds and sunsets too), peanut butter and chocolate, Shakespeare plays, long walks, long talks, playing Scrabble and tennis, popcorn and a movie, traveling, following my Redheads following their dreams…. I don’t like anything besmirching my peanut butter.

958435583_wbwkd-m1

Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer based in Los Angeles. She is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Jen will be leading a retreat to Ojai Calif (where Joules will also be!) over Labor DayAll 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. A lot. Next up is a workshop in London, England on July 6. Book here.

Beating Fear with a Stick, Gratitude, Guest Posts, healing

Beating Fear With a Stick. Must Read of the Day.

January 24, 2013

With permission I am sharing this letter I just received. I will leave it anonymous. Please please reply in the comment section to this lovely person and let her know how NOT alone she is. How surrounded by love she is. How beautiful every single part of her is. Love you guys. Thank you for being a part of my Tribe. Thank you.

Hey Jennifer! 

 I don’t know if there really is truly a simple or even possible way to express the joy that I had in being in your Atlanta workshop. I will have to start with a simple…Thank You.

You asked how I found you and I think the real answer is…I ordered you into my life, as I am doing, but was not aware, I’ve always done, with all things in my life. I am building what I call, my own guidebook, navigating my soul, through this human experience, to continue to evolve. I’m asking for clear direction, not just change. I am “doing”, to try and get clear in my life, to find my calling,

“Why I am here? How should I serve? Why should I serve?” –my purpose. I don’t believe in the sort of atypical dictionary definition of coincidence: ‘A remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.’ I rather think that, the coincidences show up in our lives as whispers, as jolts to remind us of where we are in our thoughts. Maybe it’s best defined as, “What you think about, you bring about in form, as ordered by ones thoughts and intentions”. In my definition of coincidence, it makes sense to me as to why I found you. I am a lover and believer of quotes, that words matter, that the intention behind the word is even greater. I am thankful that Karen Salmonsohn followed me one day on my twitter account, and that I returned the follow by finding her on Facebook, and then seeing a posting she made one day on Facebook about you, that brought me to you, and to meeting you in your beautiful, transformative workshop on January 20, 2013 in Georgia. 

I was hesitant and scared to begin, really begin the practice of Yoga, to let my breath out, to learn how to breathe, maybe for the first time. I knew from my past experience of 9 months of school to become a certified Massage Therapist, that bodywork can break a person open. It did for me, when I was in massage school. I left broken…broken completely open and apart, a shell of myself. I ended up in the hospital after attempting suicide while in school. This is much easier to write then it would ever be to be able to share in person, and only the close people in my life know of this happening in my life. I guess I trust you, which is kinda of crazy because I barely know you, but somehow, I felt you…I felt you this past Sunday!

We did an exercise in the early part of our teaching while in massage school that I will never forget. We went around the room placing the palms of our hands against another persons hands, while standing looking into the eyes of the other person, and saying the words, “I see you”. It started slowly, we began with standing for just a few seconds in front of the other person and then, with each person we moved to, the time we spent holding palms to palms increased. The instructor would say, “ok, move to the next person”. As the seconds built between each meeting, my comfort level built. I didn’t feel a connection with most, but there was one girl that I felt an immediate connection with, almost a peace, an utter knowing of safety and only good intention from, and I felt this jolt and feeling that she could see right through me. It was the first time in my life I knew what I was feeling, and that is was okay, yet I was also completely aware of what that would mean to be around her… I couldn’t hide my “shit”, as you might say ;), if I’m around her. This ALWAYS scares me to the core, and makes me feel a push and pull from this type of person. I’m intrigued by their knowing; however, frightened by what it may conger up in me and bring out of me, that could leave me vulnerable, not able to function, feeling too vulnerable and confused, not feeling grounded, open to another breakdown, that I may not be able to handle and recover from. Typically I just end up never interacting with such an individual that I feel this connection with because, they feel invasive to me, too curious about me, and that just kind of just freaks me out.

At the end of class, when I approached you to thank you, I felt you could see right through me. Just like the girl from massage school. When I broke down crying, once again, I knew I had to get out of there. It was too much. I felt all the women looking at me thinking, “Wow, she’s a real mess! I might have cried in class myself although, I can tell her crying is coming for a much more confused, complicated place. I wouldn’t want to become friends with that one with a ten foot pole. “

I knew that taking your class meant I would cry. I knew that taking your class meant people would see me broken again. I knew if I didn’t want that to happen, I would have to resist showing emotion as much as possible, which may also make me seem less open, but I may have to appear this way in order to protect myself from a breakdown. But, then of course, in truth… I also knew, that’s just not me, to able to completely hold back emotion when I feel someone might be ok with me showing it. And, so… it happened. I felt disconnected from myself, scared and embarrassed that I cried and was not in control of my feelings, when I stood and read my thoughts in front of everyone and, when I met you at the end of class. I felt like a failure, because to me, it was not just me crying, it was me showing that I was having another mini breakdown.

Sometimes I exist as just one big olde emotion always trying to act like I’m not, while complete torture and anxiety exists within. I am very self deprecating. I know its what keeps people not wanting to be my friend, along with being too complicated. I know as soon as women see this in me, they run.

Believe it or not, even with all my sharing and rambling right now, I have been hesitant and scared to write to you. I feel you might be “change” and I’m frightened what “the change” could mean and bring for me, if I can handle it, if it’s right for me. I shared a little about your workshop with my bestie today, and she is the one that said I just need to write to you…to try and see what it may bring. 

I am always a seeker, but I have moments when I just want to hide, turn inside of myself and not interact with anyone, not be seen, because I don’t feel worthy of being seen or heard. I’m so in and out of this right now. I’ve been lost for most, if not all, of my whole life. Stuck!!!! Especially since the time of the suicide attempt in. My main mantra in my head goes as follows: “I’m too ugly! My face with all of my acne scars is sooooo ugly. I did this to myself! Why??? I picked and still pick. I created this mess. I can’t even look at myself in the mirror without gasping. What happened to me? I could have been beautiful. I’m not good enough! Why even try? I don’t know if I will be able to handle it, if what I am working on or was working on, takes off. I don’t know if anyone would ever like me or want me enough to really become a friend in my life, once they see all of me, other than the two real friends, not acquaintances, that I currently have. I am trying very hard, to make friends with women, but it’s been a struggle to turn acquaintances into friendships. I think they just see me as weird, confused, and too much trouble. I’m nothing, that’s why I should just let go.”

Then, there is the other side of me that says, “Hell no, don’t try and tell me who I am!!! If I want it, I can get it, but I have to know it’s what I really, really want in my life because, I will give it everything!!! Every part of me, my whole heart, all my energy, all my will. I always want to be the best at what I pursue, my OCD kicks in, and I seek perfection, which makes me vulnerable and open to become broken once again and, I don’t know if I will be able to, once again, pick myself up. Why am I so insecure? Why not me? Why do I see myself as always less than? Why do I feel I’m not worthy to be in any space that I am in? Why do I fear people? Why do I feel not worthy of being in any public place, as if everyone is looking at me saying, “Why are you here?” Fear, why so much fear?! How can I truly, for real….really understand and tackle this constant insecurity and fear, and know that I am ALWAYS enough, just as I am. Be comfortable with myself, love myself, and know because I am…I am worthy of all things.” I have had moments where I am lifted, where I feel loved, and know this and feel this for myself, and good things come in. I know it’s where I can be and need to be, it’s just hard to crawl out of the rabbit hole again, when it feels so familiar to just keep falling, since it’s what I know, where I feel protected…safe, yet completely unfulfilled and unhappy in this hole. The good thing is now, I’m trying to really hold on, to ask the right questions for myself, and find the answers that I am hoping will propel me forward, give me my life back, and help me to know and do my purpose. 

I’m not currently employed. I have a significant other of many years, who has been supportive of me, most of the time. In the times that he has not been supportive, he has every right to feel this way, my struggles are deep and profound, and they are way too much to ask of anyone to carry, or feel the need to carry and fix. We struggle a lot in our relationship together, and as of late, we are now coming to a crossroad, and things are clear that we are going to need to break-up, or change most ways we interact with one another & the directions in our lives, if we want to stay together. I feel like I’m barely functioning, once again in my life. I worked soooooooo hard to get out of this place, and now I’m fighting, to not completely sink in again, into the hole. There it is, my truth. I am doing and looking for answers, and your workshop definitely sparked more questions for me to ask and seek answers to for myself. Thank you again!! I felt privileged to be able to attend your workshop and be in the presence of like minded people, and to be able to meet the woman that inspires me with each and every word she writes. You have a gift!!! Don’t ever stop sharing! My wish for you…that you also take time for you. I know how draining it is to help and want to help so many. You deserve your time to refuel, to recenter, and connect to you, without the noise of what is swirling around you. I hope you have placed this time for yourself in your journey. You deserve every millisecond of it!! 

LOVE to you!!!

you-are-not-alone

And So It Is, courage, Forgiveness, healing

What Have I Done?

January 21, 2013

I used to live in this beautiful 1940’s apartment in Los Angeles before I moved to Santa Monica ten years ago. It was on a major busy street but nestled far back enough that once you were inside the apartment you couldn’t hear any of the noise from the road.

What you could hear however were my neighbors. 

One man would repeatedly scream Get the fuck out of my house so many times and with such passion that I often thought I was dreaming it. That maybe something had broken inside of my head and things had started to skip. Maybe my mind got stuck on that one sentence and it was trapped inside my dream. Get the fuck out! Get the fuck out!

He would stand outside our front door, red-faced and hyperventilating. He seemed shriveled, slightly polio ridden. (Through some mysterious force that constantly seemed to pull at me, this spastic neighbor and I were both from the same town in South Jersey, Cherry Hill.) I’d heard it in his accent and knew that nasal tonality that inhabits the voices of South Jersey folk. And also a certain sadness which recognized immediately.

She is a fraud he would scream in the courtyard. She’s left maggots! She ate all the cereal! She took an ice pick to my piano! My Piano!

He didn’t look anyone in the eyes. Ever. Not even anywhere remotely near your face which was disturbing and creepy. But this one morning. This wonderfully otherwise perfect Los Angeles Sunday morning, with his lip cut and bleeding and his curly hair flying around his chubby red face, there was something. His eyes stopped roving and focused on something. 

Maybe he saw the point ahead of him, that point of utter loss. He was stupefied and panicked. 

The kind of panic when you realize you really are alone and that she did eat all the cereal.

He understood then that all the Get the fuck out of my houses took their toll. He had prayed for that woman to be gone. He had screamed it into the air. But I saw it in his motionless eyes. That fear. That what have I done?

I was happy when I finally moved from that place even though it had been inexpensive and huge with gorgeous hardwood floors and charm like nobody’s business. Those years are what I refer to as The Dark Years. They all blend in, gray and dank in their lack of happiness. Years of nothing on top of nothing. Years of picking at my face and talking about what I should do but couldn’t seem to get out of bed to do. I slept almost all the time. I starved myself all day and would get up in the middle of the night and eat in my sleep. I had hated waitressing but didn’t know how to stop. Like it was some kind of addiction I was in the throws of. 

 Which, of course, it was.

The Dark Years. 

And throughout those very dark years, there were these neighbors I was terrified of becoming. These screaming hate-filled red-faced people who loved and abused each other and wanted their lives to be anything but what it was.

I would lie there listening to them scream and see myself as a waitress for the rest of my life and then maybe I would eat all the cereal and take an ice pick to a piano and maybe someone would find out I was a fraud too.

The What have I done? some unspoken code between my neighbor and I. Even though we never made eye contact, we were from the same town in South Jersey (weird!) and we had this pact. This Oh My God, I’ve made a mistake like a car we’d loved but had long died and yet sat and sat in the driveway as if one day it would be able to go back up the hill.

We’d wimper silently and sometimes not silently: How can I get it back to the way it was? 

Well, here’s the good news and the bad news: You can’t. You can’t ever get it back the way it was.  

I remember lying in my room in that old apartment and thinking How can I get it back? How did I even get here? I would be here the rest of my life. Who could I blame it on? Who put me here, dammit?

Before I had moved into that apartment I had been still living in New York City. My mother had recently moved back to California (for the second time in our lives) and I had come to visit. Having lived there as a kid for a few years I still had a lot of friends in Los Angeles, so when I came to visit my mom and sister I also planned on seeing my friends. 

I had borrowed my mom’s car and took off to go to my friend’s little party despite the anxiety I had. I hated driving. And I hated parties (still do, but for different reasons.) I was afraid people would try to make me eat. I had anxiety as I drove my mom’s Isuzu Trooper or mini-van (one or the other) down the street looking for my friend’s address. (This was before cellphones.) 

I couldn’t find the building and my anxiety became a steamroller. I hit the steering wheel and cried as steam poured from my ears and I bit my fingers. I hate driving! See! I suck at it! 

I remember pulling up to a building I thought sounded like maybe that had been the address? 7890? 8790? 6790? I don’t remember (and can you even imagine a world with no cellphones during a crisis like this?)

What do you do? Well, you park and knock on a door.

The door opened and a very cute and very gay man answered. This was not my friend’s house the tears in my eyes told him before I could mutter I am lost. He asked if I wanted to use his phone.

Yes please.

He proceeded to show me around his beautiful (so stylish) apartment and then to the phone (a real wall phone.) 

I called my friend and was told that I was the three blocks north. I thanked him, told him he had a beautiful apartment and that his boyfriend (who was away working as a flight attendant apparently) was very very lucky.  

And off I went to the party which I probably hated because I probably ate food that I simply ate to make it look like I wasn’t starving myself which I very much was. The lies! The lies!

How did I get here? What have I done? 

Almost a year after that I left New York City. People used to ask why I moved to L.A. when I was half-heartedly trying to be an actress. Did you move here to be an actress?

I would say yes because it was easier but the truth was a No No No. I moved here because I had nowhere else to go. I was dying in New York. I had no choice, don’t you see? But I would nod and say Yeah, totally.

In New York I had been severely anorexic, lonely, depressed  and also very quickly going crazy. My mom had moved back to California and I wanted to feel safe so I fled New York to be with her. Clearly it wasn’t to pursue an acting career but once people started to assuming that I decided it was my best bet. Yes! I came here to be a star!

For a while I lived with my mom in a one bedroom apartment where she slept in a closet (I am not kidding although I am horrified) with a little bed on the floor and I took the master (and only bedroom) I was 21 or 22 and apparently okay with my mom sleeping in a closet/room? It lasted only a few months until I moved into the apartment on the busy street. The beautiful 1940’s apartment on the busy street.

It speaks volumes of my mother though, that little sleeping in the closet living situation. 

You like this necklace? I will give it to you. It’s yours. You want the bed? I will sleep in the closet. (That’s my mom.) 

One night, after I’d been living in the big beautiful apartment a couple years or so, my roommate M. and I had dinner at our next door neighbors. There were this fantastic gay couple with a dog and a washing machine. They also loved us in the way gay men love cute and single twenty something women. You have the best boobs! I love what you are wearing. OMG your boyfriend is so cute.

We loved them.

So, here we were hanging at their extremely well decorated place, drinking wine and laughing and I get the strangest deja vous. The kind where the ground lifts up and you have to grab the edge of the table and your wine spills over and you don’t even notice because you are so immersed in the I have been here. I don’t know how I got here but I have been here.

I turned to one of the Boyfriends and said I’ve been here. 

Yes, you have many times, Jen. Keep drinking girl! 

Me:  Last year. I was lost. Remember? I was still living in New York. I knocked on the door and you let me use the phone.

 One of the Gay Boyfriends: No that wasn’t you. That woman was like 40 and really skinny and miserable looking.

It had been me. 

I was a lot thinner last year. And I was unhappy. But I wasn’t 40, you asshole! I joked as I cleaned up my spilt wine, and of course, spent time obsessing that he meant that I was fat. I was much thinner then? What did he mean? I didn’t care about the miserable comment but the really skinny part slayed me. Much thinner? Much?

How did I get here I remember thinking. How did I get here? How did I get pointed to this building? To this moment?

To this life?

Everything is always against the odds.

The fact that I got lost and ended up there, at that very building that I would eventually live in. Not only that I ended up at that particular building that night, but of all the apartments I had knocked on their door: the only people in the building I had become friends with or even seen the inside of their apartment.

I’d also had no intention of leaving New York. It was a last ditch effort to save myself before I faded away into dusty bones on some street corner in Manhattan, my hair falling out and my face apparently aged beyond my years. I end up living at this random building. How can this be? 

How did I end up here? What have I done?

It chose me. I had been driving along in my mom’s Trooper (or minivan) and it called me. Come, come in your awful little Boy Scout pants made for a 12 year old and pale face. Come, leave your life as you know it in New York City. It will take you many many years to get where you are going but this is the first detour. The first stop. Come.

So I went. 

I would listen to my locksmith neighbor scream at his wife or not-wife and hate myself for sleeping until 11:30 am and I would wonder How did I get here? When really I knew. I knew that I had been chosen. How many apartment buildings in Los Angeles and I end up at this one with a friend of a friend of a friend who had found it and needed a roommate. I had been plucked out of my life in New York because I probably would have died if I hadn’t. Or maybe not. Maybe I would be fantastically rich and happy. Either way I needed those Dark Years and that screaming neighbor and my years of donning an apron.

I have a compass now. I know who I am. I can look back. I have a map. Here is where I was and here is where I am now, my little map says. 

I had been waitressing at the same job for about 12 years when the What have I done? creeped in and couldn’t find its way back out. What have I done? I thought I would be somebody? I’ve wasted so much time? I hate L.A. Why do I even live here? What have I done? I’m old now.

 I would take someone’s order for a veggie burger and it’s all I would hear: What have I done What have I done What have I done What have I done Do you want avocado on that and anything to drink What have I done?

My whole life led up to it. The first what have you done? after my father died. The last words I spoke were I hate you, Daddy.  

I couldn’t undo it. What have I done? Oh, what have I done?

When my neighbor had said that it couldn’t have been me that had come to the door the year before because that girl had been so thin my initial response had been What have you done, Jen? You’ve let yourself go. How could you? What have you done and how can you get it back?  

There is no getting it back.

After 13 years of working at the restaurant and after so many years of being mad at myself for failing I realized one day, or throughout the course of many many days, that its okay to never get it back the way it was.

I was always meant to get lost at that building and then move into that building. I was always meant to cry in my room and ask Why Why Why I’m too smart for this shit as I put my apron on again and again over the screach of my neighbors screaming Fuck Yous at each other.  

Here it is. Thirty years after I said my first What have I done? Here it is: It’s okay.

This will not determine the rest of your life. You have a choice right now in this moment. What will it be?

So. What will it be? Asking the questions is a good thing and I wish for you, and for me, and for all of us, all that we never stop asking the questions. How did I get here? What have I done? And then look closely , with a magnifying glass so you can see all the cracks and bugs and little hairs. Really be willing to see. Start to contemplate. Then ask more questions. Then get a really good microscope and go deeper. What have I done will lead you to different places on the map until you get to where you are now.

Please, when you start to get close to finding some answers, or more questions for that matter, please do not judge. Put down the ice pick and stop screaming and simply say I love you right into the microscope even if it makes you feel a little crazy. By doing that you’ll start to see the map move under the lens. Where there were rigid lines and boundaries on the map there will be moving molecules and big empty spaces.

That’s your moment. Right there. Look down and for the first time see that no matter what you have done you are not stuck. Your map is moving. The lines are no longer there. You are free. You can go. 

And know that no matter what you have done it doesn’t matter anymore because it got you here. And here is where the rest of us are. Start from here.
Nothing can be undone but what can be done, what can be started, is love. Start with love. Now. Go.
At the end of my life when I ask What have I done? one final time, I want to answer: I have done love.
love-fear-new-colors-400x236
love1a02
 

 

Awe & Wonder

The Point of it All.

January 16, 2013

I write and I write and I will keep writing and the reason why?

Connection.

I love emails like this. This was sent after reading last night’s essay called Light Sender. 

Dear Jennifer,

This morning felt wrong. I realized that if I let myself, I could really sink down, down, down into sadness and loneliness.

Almost every night I get a twinge of it, and I shake myself. I kiss Mattie (my son) or I lay down with him and I ignore the inclination to dive headfirst into the pit of negative emotions I’ve got swirling around. It’s exhausting to keep myself above it.

This morning I almost had to pull the car over, the sadness gripping me like a band constricting around my chest.

I am torn. I think…I think if I didn’t have Mattie, I’d be in it. I’d float in it and write about it. But I can’t allow that. The writer in me craves it, though. I always write best when I’m feeling a terrible emotion, or a blissful one. I can’t seem to feel the happiness any more, and so the sadness is calling me home. But I don’t go, because I have a son who needs a mother who can show him how to be happy and healthy. And so I’ve been teetering on the edge of this, balancing myself between duty and misery.

Enter Jen Pastiloff, the magnificent writer Yogi who has been showing me the way out of this. I’ve been following you on Facebook, reading the blog posts that you share, and absorbing every one of them. This morning though I was dangerously close to collapsing in on myself, and I read what you posted today about light, and about darkness. You even posted it with an excerpt from Mary Oliver, who is my favorite poet.

Well today you wrote, “The chains I dragged around were heavy and unwieldy by I managed them because to let go would mean I would have to face the fact that there was indeed a light inside of me…” and I was floored. I mean, bowled over. I think it’s the first time I’ve realized that maybe I’m afraid of happiness. Afraid of losing it, and afraid of beings someone other than who I am right now.

I wanted to thank you for your words today. It isn’t better, or fixed, but it’s a beginning. A way out.

Aleister Crowley said that “the breaks manifest light.” Well, I’ve been broken, and just barely holding myself together. Maybe what I need is to let the light shine through those cracks and cast off this old way of being – so sad, so tired, so alone. Thank you for writing so openly and honestly, and thank you for inspiring me to move beyond coping with depression and find a way to actually deal with it. Heal it. Thank you.

~Lauren

 

Keep going Light Senders. Keep going. Keep shining. I am here. I got you. Lauren and all the other Tribe members out there, I got you.

And So It Is, Beating Fear with a Stick, Light Senders

Light Sender.

January 15, 2013
545245_10151354820505914_625991418_n

Click to connect with my partner in this project Karen Salmansohn

Light Sender.

Around me the trees stir in their leaves

and call out, “Stay awhile.”

The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,

“and you too have come

into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled

with light, and to shine. 

~Mary Oliver When I am Among The Trees.

So why are you not letting yourself be filled?

Why are you not yelling from mountaintops who you are?

Climb that mountain. Go on. Get up there. You were born to do this, and the sooner you realize this fact, that you are among the trees, that you were always among the trees, that there wasn’t a day in your life that you were not among the trees, the sooner you send your light out and light up the world. It comes from you.

The thing is, when you send it out, you can literally feel yourself being refueled with all that golden light. Or purple. Or whatever color you imagine the light to be because light isn’t a color. It’s what’s inside you. It is what you are made up of even the times when you felt that you had no light inside of you, that all you had inside of you was a ball of pain and mud and heartache.

Get up there on that mountain. Yell into the wind what you are willing to send out into the world. Send it out in a little vessel. Send it out to anyone who will listen, anyone who needs to be inspired by someone like you. You, who’s willing to get up there on a mountaintop.

I offer you my light.

I send it out to you and hope that you can feel it on your back, or maybe on your head, an energy which if it could speak would say to you: I got you.

It’s right there with you as you are reading this, as you are making eggs for your kids, as you are sitting by your father’s bedside and reading him stories, as you turn off the lamp by your bedside and roll into an emptiness where a body used to be. All of it. It’s yours. Take it. It will never extinguish.

I didn’t trust was any light inside of me for a long time. I will not share my words with the world because there’s nothing worth sharing, I would think as I combed the streets of NYC like some kind of starving warrior. A darkness akin to dying lived inside of me. Light was something woo-woo that yoga teachers and the like spoke of. I had no idea of any such light.

I couldn’t imagine my darkness ever brightening so I succumbed to it like a slave, hackled by my own sludge and shit. The chains I dragged around were heavy and unwieldily but I managed them because to let go would mean I would have to face the fact that there was indeed a light inside of me, that underneath the chains was a small but steady light. I carried around the chains for years and kept myself all to myself. You can have none of me because there is none of me worth having. 

When I was in my early twenties I lived in mid-town Manhattan in a hotel next to a fire station. NYU housing was overflowing so they’d stuck me in a weird hotel right out of The Shining. If the red light on top of the fire station was flashing it’d meant there was a fire, growing or dying somewhere between Thirty-first and Seventh and Fortieth and Sixth. Stations were frequent: the trucks had trouble making it through traffic. Taxis never moved out of the way.

Nights I would hear the firemen pass their time. While waiting for fires to ignite they’d play basketball. The dribbling kept me awake, but they only played between fires so games didn’t last very long. And I’d felt safe. If ever there were a fire they’d be there in a flash.

I’d lie in my hotel bed counting dribbles while thinking of poems I could write about them. I never did though. I never got out of bed and grabbed a paper and wrote the poem about the firemen or the basketball or how weird it was to live in a hotel with crusty towels. Instead I laid in bed and wished I had a cheeseburger so I could smell it and pick at the lettuce or pickles. I would have never eaten the actual burger or the bread but the smell of it was enough to finally kill my hunger pains. I’d pass my time dreaming of food while the firemen threw balls to pass theirs. Were we so different? I thought, all of us waiting for something?

Waiting for the fire to change us.

I also lived next to a fire station while I was in high school in New Jersey. The men in my neighborhood, all fire fighters. When that siren went off in the middle of the night I’d imagine of my friend’s fathers slipping out of their mothers and into bulky fireproof suits. And I’d dream that same dream: our house burning and I am on a ladder in the yard. I am seven, saving everyone. I am pulling them all up the rungs, my mother, my father, my sister. I could never save myself. I’d stay at the bottom of the ladder and be eaten by black smoke until I woke.

In New York, I used to watch the firemens’ feet talk to me and ignore their voices. The feet give it all away. Nervous and fidgety. Pressing the earth for ideas as if language can split the pavement, enter their bodies like heat through their feet and make them whole.

As if language was strong enough to crack the earth, as if it could be kept underfoot. As if words could form themselves and penetrate through bone, into the blood, and out the mouth. As if it were as comfortable, as controllable as fire.

What I found out was this: language can crack the earth. It can spilt the pavement. It has! It has opened up and swallowed me. I can’t stop writing now for the life of me. For better or worse, it has cracked my darkness, and I can’t stop sending my light out into the world with a clear knowing that whoever receives it will be just the right person in need.

What I am telling you is that if you climb that mountain, which I am hoping you will choose to do, that your light will spread across a page of the night and no matter how many fireman put down their basketballs to come and put it out, your light can never be extinguished.

It was always there. You may have just been tied to a ladder. You may have been inhaling smoke. You may have been starving yourself or drinking too much or failing out of school. Whatever it is, or was, the light is there inside of you and it is your birthright to send it out. You absolutely cannot hoard it.

Writing might not be your thing. I don’t know what your thing is. It might be that you are a great mother. You are an incredible friend. You are an artist. You cook a mean chili. You are kind.

Whatever it is, you have to let us know. We are here waiting with the rest of the trees.

You have to get up out of the bed and write that poem instead of laying there dreaming of dying and hamburgers. You have to unshackle yourself from the chains around your ankles, because, quite truthfully, you put them there. You have the key. You have to climb the mountain and throw the key from the top as you yell Here I am. This is where I stand.

Sit down on the top up there. After all, you climbed all the way up. You did that. Not me. Not your past. You, here and now. It was a steep climb and you almost fell, but you didn’t. Go on and sit down. And when the trees ask you to stay awhile, tell them: Yes, yes I plan to. In fact, I have always been here. I have always been the light.

Tell them that.

Although its nothing they didn’t already know. Even when you didn’t know it yourself. You have always been there.

You are a beacon of light.

Joy, Things I Love

Jen Pastiloff’s “Must Haves” for The Holiday Season.

December 5, 2012

I wanted to provide all my loyal readers with a list of gifts I think should not be missed. So, here they are. In no particular order.

1) The Insomniacs by Karina Wolf and The Brothers Hilts.

Parents, if you do not have this book yet, run to your nearest bookseller or click here to get it. Adults with questionable sleep patterns (like me) will also enjoy.

The wonder of nighttime comes to life in this breathtaking debut.

When the Insomniacs move twelve time zones away for Mrs. Insomniac’s new job, the family has an impossible time adapting to the change. They try everything to fall asleep at night–take hot baths, count to one thousand, sip mugs of milk–but nothing helps. Venturing out into the dark, they learn there is a whole world still awake and a beauty in their new and unconventional schedule.

Ideal for bedtime reading, this gorgeous and lyrical story celebrates nighttime’s mystery and magic.

51DnuJf5f6L._SS500_

2) Instant Happy: Ten-Second Attitude Makeovers by Karen Salmansohn.

This book makes a perfect stocking stuffer. I just bought 5! I swear by this woman and her Facebook posters. Her book includes posters not seen on Facebook. I carry my own copy around in my purse. It’s a must-have this holiday season.

The latest gift book from positivity guru and bestselling author Karen Salmansohn, Instant Happy delivers upbeat shots of happiness and perspective with clever, motivational sayings and graphics.

A self-help book for people who don’t have the time or patience for self-help books.

Click here to order.

530056_10151207856158707_587706612_n

 3) Blooming Lotus Jewelry.

You may have seen me wearing my Blooming Lotus Mala beads (I never take them off so chances are if you have seen me, you have seen them.)

I love this company. If you order a bracelet now for the holidays, they donate $12 to Hurricane Sandy relief. A gift you can feel good about buying.

Click the photo of the bracelet to order one or to browse through all their lovely pieces. I love love love them.

Click the photo of the bracelet to order one or to browse through all their lovely pieces. I love love love them.

4) Juil sandals.

Ok, I love these shoes so much that The Travel Yogi and I bought everyone a pair who came on my Bali Manifestation Retreat with me. If you use my code MANIFEST you even get a 10% discount. I have trekked through Bali and Europe in these shoes.

click photo of sandals to browse JUIL shoes and don't forget to use MANIFEST to get 10% off. I swear my by JUILS.

click photo of sandals to browse JUIL shoes and don’t forget to use MANIFEST to get 10% off. I swear my by JUILS.

5) A Manifestation Retreat® with me.

This holiday season I have had so many people buy their loved ones (and themselves) a spot at one of my Manifestation Retreats. Click here to see the full list. My next week long retreat is Feb 16-22 in Maui with Sommer Dyer, Wayne Dyer’s daughter and The Travel Yogi. Click here. If you are looking to really wow someone, this is the perfect gift.

If not with me or The Travel Yogi, consider buying a retreat for a loved one or yourself. It is a life changing experience!

6) Philosophie Superfoods.

I have done a few cleanses with the company Philosophie and have never felt so good. The Superfoods make a perfect gift for the under the tree. They taste delicious too!

Given the most powerful tools for healing, our bodies will renew themselves and return us to our natural state of unbounded energy, bliss, and balance. The Philosophie’s mission is to activate that joy by making it easy, delicious, and inspired.

The Philosophie superfood powders are blends of the very best plant-based materials on earth. Superfoods are vitamin and mineral-dense substances prized for their unique nutrient profiles and ability to activate the body’s natural potential for cleansing, repairing, and rebuilding.

Click the photo to order your Superfoods today!

Click the photo to order your Superfoods today!

7) Photography by Madison Rosner aka Madshutter. I just bough a print from her because I missed NYC so much (posted below.)

Click the photo to like her Facebook page and to keep up with her gallery showings. This is the perfect gift for the art and photography lover. She has lots of prints to choose from.

Click the photo to like her Facebook page and to keep up with her gallery showings. This is the perfect gift for the art and photography lover. She has lots of prints to choose from. http://www.madshutterindustries.com/

8) Pilates with Libby Bideau.

The only person I will do pilates with. She makes it fun, creative, challenging and accessible. A perfect gift (buy a series even) for the person looking to get in shape over the new year. 

Click the photo of Libby to buy a class or series. Perfect for beginners too. I highly recommend Libby! (Los Anegeles people only however if you email me  I can refer people in other cities.)

Click the photo of Libby to buy a class or series. Perfect for beginners too. I highly recommend Libby! (Los Angeles people only however if you email me I can refer people in other cities.)

9) Renata Youngblood’s latest album. 

You might recognize her voice since I have her on repeat in my yoga classes (the online ones as well) and she actually comes and plays live. Her voice is butter and this cd makes the perfect little gift. Destined to make anyone’s day brighter!

A great gift for anyone who loves music.

A great gift for anyone who loves music.

10) The gift of yoga! Online yoga classes at Yogis Anonymous.

YA-Top-Int-Header2

You can do yoga anywhere with Yogis Anonymous and their huge online library of classes (I have some on here too!)

The most expensive pass is only $15. You cannot beat that. Put it this way folks: it is the only yoga studio I will teach at (besides Equinox.) The best yoga teachers in town.

Click here to get started.

healing, Inspiration

Can You Look at the “Crappy” Things & Say Thank You?

October 28, 2012

I’ve been thinking lately about the things in my life that I threw my fists to the sky about and yelled: It’s just not fair! Why? Why me? Why my family? 

I have been thinking about those things, and maybe because I am about to enter the age my father was when he died, or maybe simply because enough time has passed, but I have started to find the gifts in those things.

love this poster by my bestie Karen Salmansohn of notsalmon.com

Oh, for the love of cliche, I can hear you say.

Ok, not always do I see the gifts as they happen. Not all the time. Maybe 78% of the time. Maybe 67%? Maybe 20%?

Look. I am a human being. Flesh and blood and moody and partially deaf. I still get angry sometimes when I think of my dad dying so young and I definitely miss him. I miss the idea of him all the time. Every day. That never goes away. I get annoyed that I can’t hear someone call my name. Yea. I do. Daily. But I have been able to recognize the gifts in the things in my life that I once looked upon as curses or faults.

I posed this question on my Facebook about an hour ago:

Has anything happened in your life that at the time you pereceived as “bad” “sad” “shitty” “unfair” etc which you now look at as a gift? Love to hear. Post below.

and to my delight I got such inspiring answers I felt I had to share in a blog. People being so vulnerable and open and wise. That’s the thing. The wisdom. How wise we get with time.

Does that mean the pain goes away?

No.

Not always.

But it softens around the edges and becomes bearable and eventually becomes a sigh or a nod but mostly it becomes a part of us and that part is who we are today. Right now. In this moment. 

thank you Jenni Young of Simplereminders.com

Here are some of the responses to my question on Facebook:

Has anything happened in your life that at the time you pereceived as “bad” “sad” “shitty” “unfair” etc which you now look at as a gift? Love to hear. Post below.

Alanna Jane: Becoming disabled 3.5 years ago!

Staci Pribush Job loss 2 years ago brought me to the most amazing new path!

Becky Stuto Cervical cancer. I had a hysterectomy at the age of 31 followed by divorce. This was the best thing in my life. It inspired me to live for myself, go to back to school, I remarried the love of my life, and pursue a master’s degree. I’m kicking ass.

Nicole Anderson Getting laid off in 2009 when the economy tanked. Tough time, but I grew and learned a LOT from it and would not be on the amazing path I am today had it not happened. It was a blessing in disguise!

Rachelle Smith Stokes My job right now. I see it as “Bad” but when I have time to reflect and when I am reminded, it does have some positive things I am learning from it.

Marilyn McClintic Kriz Absolutely…my marriage – I was considerable unhappy for much of it. But I received many gifts from it….the first being, of course, my children. But as far as ‘lessons learned’ gifts and personal growth, I learned about the addiction to people and relationships and how to recognize the signs and not go down that road again. I learned to follow my heart, my intuition instead of my fears when it comes to my relationships. I learned about the importance of being myself instead of who somebody else wanted me to be. I learned about the importance of communication. I learned how to end a relationship (marriage) in a constructive way. I could go on and on

Zoe Weldon Divorce and job loss lead to me living in my friend’s backyard in a tent at 33…that lead me to the most empowered, juicy, divine life. I now live near the beach, developed a gentle spiritual practice and have just started my own business. Best lessons ever.

Martha Meyer Barantovich Sexual abuse which was indeed very shitty led to bad and shitty decisions/events, but eventually taught me the meaning of strength and how to be empowered. I still learn from my life’s lessons regularly, but with power and strength!

 Rachel Michelson I’m 37 and was dx with stage IV colon cancer back in Jan. I’ll be fine. As a result, i’m so much closer to my dad–he flies from the east coast to the west coast every TWO WEEKS, so he can be here when i have chemo. and while, i don’t feel it all the time, i know this experience has made me stronger and much braver. :-)

Fiona Williams Finally facing up to my mental health issues a couple of years ago. Still running, still hiding, but have slowed down and am *trying* to work with myself, not against myself.

Jessica Trowbridge My own parents divorced 5 times between the two of them, and my divorce was finalized just over a year ago. I have gotten to know myself SO much more than I would have without these experiences….I see people jumping from relationship to relationship (this is what my parents and ex did) without taking the time to know who they are by themselves. I realize this is easier said than done, but wouldn’t trade my self-discovery for anything! Still learning and, if I decide to enter into another relationship, I feel confident that I will be a much healthier, whole person in that coupling. Thank God.

Michelle Anderson-Weierbach I got pregnant with my 1st child at age 17. At the time I thought it was the worst thing on earth that could have happened to me. When she was born she was a sickly little rag doll, who needed tons of help and care. She was diagnosed with PWS when she was 3. All of this has been a gift and lessons in disguise for me and my family.

Lynn Marie Lost a job I had had for 18 years and loved (I was devastated), met some wonderful people at a volunteer job, time off led to new job, brought my family back together, was re-introduced to the love of my life! Life is so much better now! But if you had told me back then? I never would’ve believed it. So now, right now, I am looking at another job loss/financial desperation…but I am holding on to the knowledge of my last experience when I was in this position, and all the wonderful things that I NEVER could’ve imagined for myself….I am anxiously awaiting whatever good things life has in store for me!!!

Kristin Olson I didn’t get into top choices for college, grad school or my grad internship. Looking back though, the places I went were definitely the best choice for me but I couldn’t see it at the time. Thank you universe!

Ruthie Goldman Van Wijk Omg yes. My previous marriage falling apart horribly. And now I so happy, I teach yoga, am happily remarried, and run a yoga non-profit in Palestine!!! Wooo hoo!

Kathleen Quinn I worked for company that had layoff about 4 years ago. They had a committee that picked the people who would be laid off. They told me I was one of people they picked. At time I was surprised, upset a little bitter. I later realized that they did the right thing because I could not, in good conscience convince providers to accept their one sided contracts.

Abby Merin There’s many things I could say… but for me it’s in the past and unfortunately we can’t change what has already happened. However, what we can do is learn from our experiences, and use what we’ve learned to better our future. I’ve come out of my “storm of life” a little more stronger, a little more wiser, a little more empathetic, a little more insightful, a little more appreciative towards life (actually I would have to say A LOT more appreciative) a little more compassionate, a little more caring, a little more understanding, a little less disappointed, a little more passionate, a little more thankful, a little more loving, a little more confident, a little less selfish, a little less scared, and every little bit of what I have gained from my experience has made me who I am today. I’m making sure that I create a better version of myself…a better Abby. As my favorite lady Kelly Clarkson has said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” =)

Nicole Anderson Thanks so much for posing the question, Jennifer. It’s SO important for us to reflect on the meaning behind the challenges we face in life vs stay in a negative mindspace. We may get handed lemons, but it’s us to find the lemonade and gratitude in those experiences. You inspired and reminded many of us to be grateful for past adversities tonight, so thank you! You = ROCKSTAR!

MovingOn Cancer was the shittiest, most valuable “gift” I’ve received.

Leslie Jampolsky I thought g-d hated me when I was diagnosed with M.S. And that I could not return to work. At the time my children were 1 week old and 1 year old. When they became school aged I realized what a blessing it was to be a stay at home mom, where I could volunteer in school and be home for them when they got home from school. That I could help with their homework, cook dinners, make a warm breakfast, etc…… That is when I realized that I was truly blessed.

Andrea Rossetto Mom has kidney cancer right now, that has metastisized. She is very ill and has been hospitalized for nearly 2 weeks. This is about as horrible as it gets, feels tremendously unfair. To see her so ill is the most painful thing I have ever endured. This has been going on for 5 months. I am not grateful for a thing in this moment. Can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel right now, feel very alone and unsupported. I hope one day I can understand why this is happening. It is excruciating and paralyzing.

~~~~~

That last one. That last one.

What I want to say to Andrea is this: I know it sucks. And it does. And it is painful and unfair and I do not know if I buy into the bullshit ( yes, I said that) that everything happens for a reason. And yes, I am really sorry that you and mom are suffering. I am no stranger to this. What I know is this: there will be a gift eventually. Whether it comes in the form of you comforting another. Whether it comes in some art you make from it, because your pain is so deep, and that, my love, is what happens to pain transformed. It becomes art. if you let it.

Do not try and be grateful now.

Go through what you need to go through and then begin to heal but meanwhile read all the above comments. I hope they provide you with a small sense of hope, even a glimmer, the size of a dime or a truck. Whatever it may be, let them instill in you the hope that you will come out on the other side and most likely a better version of yourself. We get better if we let ourselves. I know I have. And a lot of that getting better has been because of the shitty (sorry, in a cursing mood) things I thought had happened to me. Father dying, hearing loss, stepfather dying, family losing everything, nephew diagnosed with rare disorder. All of it that I wanted so badly to bury in a sack and throw in a dirty river have created the very woman who is writing to you now and sending you a big fat hug and an invitation to scream and yell and cry and write as much as you want to me.

The rest of you: Bravo.

And to me: Bravo.

I am a better person than I used to be.

Are you?

**Add yours below!!!

Manifest-Station Message of the Day, Manifestation Retreats, NotSalmon.com, Travels

Manifest-Station Message of the Day.

July 18, 2012
My friend Karen Salmansohn made this amazing poster from one of my Italy retreat pictures. Karen and I will be hosting a retreat together in 2013!! Stay tuned for details!

Manifest-Station Message of the Day for 7/18/12

Happiness Tip #1:

To live your happiest life, you gotta have a sense of humor, especially when it comes to YOU.

My friend Karen Salmansohn made this amazing poster from one of my Italy retreat pictures. Karen and I will be hosting a retreat together in 2013!! Stay tuned for details!

 
Tweet me #laughingatmyself by clicking here 
Manifest-Station Message of the Day

Manifest-Station Message of the Day.

June 28, 2012
Karen Salmansohn is awesome.

Manifest-Station message of the Day for 6/28/12

Being awesome is the best revenge.

Karen Salmansohn said that. Now do you see why we are such soul sisters?

Go be awesome.

Go shine like you do when you belly laugh at a joke that was told just for you. Go shine like you do when you find something you wrote 10 years ago and realize that it’s really, really good. Go shine like you do when you are doing something you love and you forget all sense of time and space and dinner. Go shine like you do when you look in the mirror and notice for the first time in a long while that you are beautiful. There, just like that, in the bathroom light with the morning streaming in and the deep knowing in your place that knows things that: Today will be awesome.

So go be that.

 

Karen Salmansohn is awesome.