Browsing Tag

kripalu

Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, Yoga

A Fat Girl Does Warrior Two

August 24, 2015

By Anne Falkowski

Anyone can do Warrior Two pose. Anyone who can stand on their legs. Even fat girls.

The first time I held Warrior Two, and I mean really held it, till sweat beaded on my bare back and shoulders like jewelry and heat rose up from my toes and lapped my insides with fire, I felt so beautiful for one slice of brief moment. I imagined I glistened like a night star soaked with moonlight. I was not fat.

But I thought I was.

My whole life, I thought I was fat. Sometimes I was, squeezing my sausage flesh into size 18’s and sometimes I wasn’t, with size 8 Gap jeans falling down on my hips.

But to a girl, who has a long time been a woman, with body hatred that stained her before age 12, true size is irrelevant. Those of us who obsess on the appearance of our body are a secret club of sisters (and brothers) who have become kin to Alice. We have been down in the hole for so long, we no longer know what is real. More importantly we don’t know ourselves, where we begin or end, and how to climb out. We only know how to measure our own sense of worth, black and white, good and bad, with broken rulers.

We are piles of flesh, food and shame.

Some will read this and say I am being overly dramatic. Focus on something more important like starving children. They are much more worthy of our attention. I agree.

But you cant focus on things more worthy when you are stuck in the pit of your own unworthiness at the most primal level.

There is nothing more primal then our own body. Our bodies get sick, heal, taste, smell, see, hear, fight, love and feel. They feel anger, joy, lust and fear. When we don’t pay attention to our bodies, we disconnect from what is happening in the present moment and live in the limits of our mind.

A yoga teacher once said the only thing we know for certain in each moment is the rise and fall of our breath and the sensation we feel in our bodies.

This is the only truth and everything else is a story. Everything else. My fat girl doesn’t live in the truth of her body. She lives in the drama of her story. But to climb out of story she has to relearn how to live in her body in a truthful and compassionate way.

Warrior Two is a foundational pose.

Foundational because you are standing on your own two legs. Anyone can do it. Its not just for the uber-flexible or the advanced yogi. No matter who you are and how much yoga you have done, this pose will become challenging when held for longer than a few breaths.

Warrior Two is a grounding pose.

Yoga poses are done in bare feet for a reason. To feel the ground which is always underneath us and to remind us that we are a part of it. Plus bare feet make it easier to stay in place and not slip or fall. Although falling would not be the end of the world. Everyone has to fall sometime.

Hold Warrior Two and eventually you will feel heat in your inner legs and thighs. Maybe just a little at first, but wait, more will come. The warmth will seem to come up from the ground and swell throughout your whole body and will eventually lead to sweat.

Heat and sweat are desirable in yoga. Don’t bail. Stay on the mat. By staying, you are mixing your discipline with inner brilliance. Pressure and heat. This is how diamonds are made.

Warrior Two is not a pose for the weak.

It requires grounding, stamina and hugging muscle to the bone. It demands strong quads and arms and a connection to our bellies. It requires the breath. The breath with a capital B, not a meager small one. Without full deep breaths, Warrior Two deadens. It is no longer a fighter. Its weary.

But the thing about Warrior Two is it cannot be all strength and stabilization, or it becomes rigid and inflexible. It will drain you. It requires an openness. A willingness to let in ease and comfort.

The poet Jane Kenyon wrote, “God will not leave you comfortless.”

Maybe it is only ourselves who leave us comfortless.

Patanjali, the father of yoga, said the poses should be both steady and comfortable. That is the only thing he wrote about the physicality of the poses out of hundreds of verses on how to do yoga. So it must be crucial. Steady meaning rock the pose. Hold it firmly. No one can push you over. You look out over your third finger and you are fierce. A don’t mess with me attitude. Don’t fuck with me. I can handle what ever life brings my way. I have to. But if I want to be a yogi, I can’t just push my way through the hard stuff.

What about the comfort? It is true, we are directly responsible for our own comfort. To find it, the yogi has to listen. She has to have the courage to let go of being in charge of everything that is happening in her life at each moment and trust. She has to let go of being perfect and blaming herself or others when things don’t go her way. She has to stop hiding behind whatever tale of woe she has spent her life cultivating and trust that she will be found.

The interior battle is to have faith that if she lets go of the edge of what is known, she will not come crashing down. She must believe that no matter what is happening, it is okay to be both strong and soft. Continue Reading…

Eating Disorders/Healing, Guest Posts, Young Voices

A 19 Year Old On Self-Loathing & Compassion.

February 26, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would classify as number 2.

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

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

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

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

Continue Reading…

The Manifestation Retreat: On Being Human at Kripalu in Western Massachusetts.

February 20, 2015
Jen and Wayne Dyer 10/14 Pasadena, Calif.

Jen and Wayne Dyer 10/14 Pasadena, Calif.

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For everyone! No experience required. Just be a human being.
This weekend is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was?
Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are and what you want in a workshop that combines writing and asana, and has been known to include a dance party or two! Jennifer Pastiloff’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty.
Jennifer invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free.
Note Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor.

Manifestation Weekend Retreat: On Being Human at Kripalu.

February 19, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black

This is for everyone.

berkshiresdotorg
This weekend is an excavation of the self, a deep and fun journey into questions such as: If I wasn’t afraid, what would I do? Who would I be if no one told me who I was?
Get ready to connect to your joy, manifest the life of your dreams, and tell the truth about who you are and what you want in a workshop that combines writing and asana, and has been known to include a dance party or two!

logo

Jennifer Pastiloff’s focus is less on yoga postures and more on diving into life in all its unpredictable, messy beauty.

Jennifer invites you beyond your comfort zone to explore what it means to be creative, human, and free.
Note: Bring a journal, an open heart, and a sense of humor. (The last one is a MUST!)

Below is a teenage girl, Karolina,

 

 

that came last year with her beautiful mom. They had no idea what they had signed up for. This is what she had to say…

 

 

cancer, Guest Posts, Letting Go, motherhood

A Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Mother/Daughter Bond.

September 22, 2014

By Lockey Mitten Maisonneuve.

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As she lay in bed dying, Marlene told her daughter Kathy, she could see a door opening, beyond it she saw flowers everywhere, Marlene said “it was beautiful.” Kathy whispered “it sounds like you have a beautiful place to go with a lot of people who love you waiting for you, it’s okay to go.”

I had the privilege of participating in Marlene’s final days on this earth. I would go to her house and help her through guided meditations. She liked the full-body scan kind with white light covering her entire body. At the beginning of one of our first sessions, she was weeping and wouldn’t make eye contact with me. She just kept trying to hold it together. I finally said “if you are trying to not cry in front of me, it’s not working, just go with it.” She did. She allowed herself to cry as she settled in to meditate. I guided her through, she wept, I reminded her to breathe, she relaxed, I guided, she became soft.

After the meditation, she was a bit frantic about needing to write letters to her three adult children and her grand children. She was in too much discomfort to write, so I offered to write the words she spoke. As I wrote the words she needed to say to her children I understood how loved her children are. After we completed the letters, we sat quietly for a moment.

Continue Reading…

cancer, death, Gratitude, Guest Posts

I Will Miss You Every Day of My Life.

September 18, 2014

By Kathleen Emmets.

Note from Jen Pastiloff: Kathleen showed up at my Kripalu Retreat a couple years ago and has since become a dear friend and a great source of inspiration for me. She is the one who created the Fuck It List, that I so often speak of. She sent me this and I knew I had to get it up on the site. Humbled.

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Dear Jen,

Thank you for the beautiful way you teach people to express themselves. I wrote this in the voice you helped me to find.

I love you.

I stand at her bedside, holding her frail, smooth hand. She can’t speak today and her eyes, for the most part, remain closed. “It’s better this way,” I think to myself. Continue Reading…

Beauty Hunting, Guest Posts, Manifestation Retreats, Manifestation Workshops

Sometimes It’s Easy To Forget Who We Are In The World.

September 6, 2014
Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat Sep 17-24, 2016. Click the Tuscan hills above and email info@jenniferpastiloff.com. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being.

By Jen Pastiloff.

Jen Pastiloff here. Cassandra Kirwan just posted this on my Facebook page but since some of you may have missed it, I wanted to post it here (see excerpt below.) I am deeply grateful and utterly blown away by what she wrote. Like jaw dropping blown away. Like these frozen grapes I am eating keep rolling out of my mouth onto the floor, blown away.

Cassie has been on 4 retreats with me in the last 6 months or so. I am deeply touched by her words and incredibly proud of her.

I am also sharing this to give a better understanding of what I do. Yoga is involved, but asana is not the focus. The actual physical yoga practice is not what it’s about.

That scares me sometimes. I think maybe I should go back to teaching straight yoga and that maybe I should just hide in my apartment.

And sometimes I do hide.

Sometimes I feel shut down and broken and I can’t hear even with my hearing aids turned up and I think the whispering in the back is about me and I get so scared to go to a new city and walk into a workshop I’m hosting and ask things of people that I know make them squirm. I think that people just want to stay busy, to keep going, to keep clocking in and out of work, to be left alone to scroll through instagram and watch t.v. and why in God’s name would I ask people what they would do if they weren’t afraid? Just shut up, Jen, and eat your fucking frozen grape. (It’s really hot in L.A. today, ok?)

Sometimes it’s easy to forget who we are in the world.

Continue Reading…

Beating Fear with a Stick, cancer, courage, Free Stuff, Guest Posts

Cancer Is a Bitch. But Wait! There’s Good News Too.

August 21, 2014

Shaken Not Stirred: A Chemo Cocktail. A Comedy About My Tragedy. By Joules Evans. (hint: good news follows.)

Hi beloveds, Jen Pastiloff here. I’m the founder of The Manifest-Station. There’s a lot going on here with us trying to get the new site launched (eek! Thanks Carla White) but…it is very important to me that I get this post up asap as my dear friend Joules Evans wrote it. I met Joules when she drove from Ohio to Massachusetts to attend my Kripalu retreat last February.  (Yes, I am doing it again and it’s filling up fast!) Anyway, we have become buds, and, truth be told, I am obsessed with her and her book Shaken Not Stirred.. A Chemo Cocktail. The kindle version is FREE TODAY and tomorrow to celebrate 6 years aka 2190 fucking awesome days since hearing that damn word. each and every one a GIFT. even the hard ones.<< Joules words. That is the good news. To celebrate she made her book free for two days. Please get it and take the time to read what is below. Have your mind blown. Seriously guys, her book is moving and funny and divine.  I love this woman to the end of the earth and back. This post is an excerpt of her book. Please get it. And get it for people. And spread the word. And fuck cancer!

Continue Reading…

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.

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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.

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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, cancer, Gratitude, Guest Posts, healing, Manifestation Retreats

Thank You, You Didn’t Break Me.

February 8, 2014

**trigger warning. Strong content that might be upsetting to some. Mention of sexual abuse. Strong language.

By Lockey Maisonneuve

“Thank you to the people who built me.” Jen Pastiloff read these words from an essay she wrote at Kripalu last weekend during her Manifestation Retreat®.

Thank you. You didn’t break me.

I was tingly when I heard these words. Why? Because Jen created the space for me to powerfully, and without anger, share my gratitude and flaunt my resilience to the people who built me.

We were invited to write a Thank You letter to everyone we ever met, the loving, supporting people who showed us grace and dignity, the people who were careless with our heart, the people who bullied us and those who showed us beauty. This letter was best described by Angela Patel, a retreat participant.  She called it a Thank You/Fuck You letter. “Thank you releases it, while fuck you holds it in.”

When I started writing my letter, I wasn’t sure who would receive the thank you or the fuck you. I just started writing, and thanking and fuck-youing. It all came together in one beautiful, colorful, abstract, authentic, thank you/fuck you landscape.

After I wrote this letter, I was shaking.  All over. My legs, my arms, my chest, my fingers, my heart.  Then I was asked to read my letter aloud.  Really Jen??

I trust her. So I read the letter.

I stood there reading, not even realizing what I’d written until I tried to speak the words out loud.  There was no time to prepare them for what they would hear, no time to make self-deprecating comments, or a joke to avoid being present to this moment.  I just had to stand in the uncertainty that I could be vulnerable and would not crumble into a pile on the floor.

As I read my letter I realized I was getting exactly what I came for.   I was being vulnerable. I was standing in uncertainty. I did not use my humor to deflect the situation like I normally do. I was authentic. I was raw. I was humbled.

My audience held the space for me to express things I’ve never said out loud. Once again, I made it through. I did not crumble. I am whole (and kinda awesome.)

I am forever grateful to Kripalu and the amazing space they provide, Jen Pastiloff for being the space of transformation for the planet, and everyone of the women I hugged, laughed and cried with.  I am in awe of every one of you.

My Thank You/Fuck You Letter inspired by Jen’s essay and assignment (click here to read it.)

Thank you to the kid who poured breadcrumbs on my sister before school.  Thank you to my sister for pushing me away.  thank you to my family for telling me repeatedly “She is the strong one.” Thank you to Andrew for hiring me as a bar tender and telling me during the interview that he knew I was lying about having experience as a bar tender.  Thank you to the rapist who punched me in the face.  Thenk you to the man who pulled me out of the shower after sneaking in to the house.  Thenk you to the man who held me down, thank you to my father who laughed as he counted the money men paid him to rape me.Thank you to the lady who worked in the bakery who bartered babysitting services in exchange for free breakfast.  Thank you to me for my ingenuity at the age of 12.  Thank you to my children for teaching me how to love unconditionally.  Thank you to me for getting up every time I fell. Thank you to cancer for allowing me to see that “someday” is a myth, the time is now.  Thank you lululemon for making yoga pants mainstream.  Thank you Jean, for saving me.  Thank you Ed for firing me, I hated that job.  Thank you personal training career for teaching me that I do have something to offer. 

PS. As a public service announcement, if you are planing on attending a retreat with Jen, which I highly recommend, don’t bother wearing mascara. It will be gone by the end of the first Elton John song and for the rest of the day, you will be wondering if it’s all over your face.   🙂

Lockey is a yoga instructor and survivor of cancer and child abuse. Sharing her story and practicing yoga saved her life. When she let go of both the cancer and the secret of abuse she was able to heal in both mind and body. Lockey openly shares her cancer and child abuse experiences to help others in what ever they are surviving in their lives. Lockey has been profiled in Shape Magazine  WABC-TV, News Channel 12.  She is a montly contributor for PositivelyPositive.com. And writes blogs for SheKnows.com and MindBodyGreen.She is featured in The Ultimate Guide to Breast Cancer by the Editors of Prevention Magazine.  Recently she presented a vidoechat for the GE Healthcare Breast Cancer Mosaic. She is a monthly contributor on PositivelyPositive.com.

At Kripalu in Massachusetts last week (Feb 1, 2014.)

At Kripalu in Massachusetts last week (Feb 1, 2014.)

Lockey and Jen at Jen's Bali retreat last year.

Lockey and Jen at Jen’s Bali retreat last year.

Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer based in Los Angeles. She is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Jen will be leading a Retreat in Costa Rica at the end of March and her annual retreat to Tuscany is in July 2014. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing and for ALL levels. Read this post to understand what a Manifestation retreat is. Check out her site jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Jen and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. Be prepared to go deep if you go sign up for a retreat. And also to laugh! A lot. 

Beating Fear with a Stick, cancer, Gratitude, Guest Posts, Manifestation Retreats

What’s On Your F*ck It List?

February 2, 2014

By Kathleen Emmets

A year ago today, I was cancer free and on my way home from an amazing weekend retreat at Kripalu run by Jennifer Pastiloff. During those three days, I discussed my fear and anger and hopes for my future (even though I was scared to death of what the future might hold). Even with no evidence of disease, cancer still controlled my life.

Four months later I learned the cancer was back. Life, once again, had to be put on hold.

Or did it?

When what you fear the most in life occurs, what else is there to fear? The answer is: nothing.

Seems as if along with some tumors, I grew a pair of balls. I made plans for my future. I traveled. I laughed. I wrote. I loved and I lived. I realized every time I used the phrase, “I’ll be happy when..” I was allowing fear to control my life.

“I’ll be happy when my next scan is clear.”
“I’ll be happy when I’m in remission for over five years”

Life doesn’t work that way. There are no guarantees that anything will happen, except life itself. It will always keep moving, keep changing.

Be happy now.

Don’t wait for someday, some person, some job, some thing. Now. Right now. No matter what you are going through there can be joy found somewhere. Find it.

As Jen says: Be a beauty hunter.

I returned to Kripalu again this weekend for Jen’s workshop; this time a little slower due to the chemotherapy I’m back on. I kept up with the yoga moves as much as I could; sometimes falling into child’s pose when my body began to give out.

Jen never pushes you physically, I love her for that. Emotionally though? She draws it out of you. Her own openness and vulnerability make you want to be your most authentic self. Her writing prompts have you digging deep and cut right through the bullshit. There is no hiding when she comes close and looks into your eyes. When you have given all you can give, she smiles that knowing smile. It is the smile of someone who has been there, who has experienced pain and wants to help you get to the other side of it. I love that smile.

Jen is a firm believer in asking for what you want. She prompted us to write about things we wanted to ask for in life, without fear of the word ‘no’. Here is my list:

1. Hey, God, can you finally rid my body of this cancer once and for all?
2. Dr. Kemeny, can I come off of the chemotherapy yet?
3. Can I be loved in the way I want and need to be loved?
4. Can I continue to have these amazing orgasms…but, with someone else in the room?
5. Can someone help me make my ‘Fuck It List’ a platform I use to help others going through difficulties in life?

I’ll wait and see if the Universe answers these questions for me. What I won’t wait for, however, is my happiness. That will come regardless of the answer.

Thank you, Jennifer Pastiloff, for all that you are and all that you do. I know who is walking beside me; 40 incredible women from this retreat. Much love to you all.

Kathleen at Kripalu.

Kathleen at Kripalu.

***

Note from Jen: I am humbled, not only to read this, but to know Kathleen. Please send her love on Wednesday as she has her next scans. Oh, and fuck you, Cancer.

ps, what’s on your Fuck It List? Post below!

Don’t you love the Fuck It List idea? Let’s help her make it viral! Connect with her here. Say I sent you, k?

I asked everyone to draw picture of what they wanted their life to look like and Kathleen drew this. The caption said, "Look, I'm a rockstar, Jen!"

I asked everyone to draw picture of what they wanted their life to look like and Kathleen drew this. The caption said, “Look, I’m a rockstar, Jen!”

Kathleen Emmets is an avid music lover and yoga enthusiast. She believes in seeking out the good in all things and being her most authentic self. Her articles have appeared in MindBodyGreen and Do You Yoga. She writes about her experience with cancer in her blog, cancerismyguru.blogspot.com. Kathleen lives in East Norwich, NY with her husband, son, 2 cats and dog. She does not necessarily love them in that particular order.
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.)

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.)

 

 

Join Jen Pastiloff in Tuscany Sep 17-24, 2016. There are 5 spaces left. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com asap. More info here. Must email first to sign up.

Join Jen Pastiloff in Tuscany Sep 17-24, 2016. There are 5 spaces left. Email barbara@jenniferpastiloff.com asap. More info here. Must email first to sign up.

Q & A Series, writing

The Manifest-Station Q&A Series: Best-Selling Author Dani Shapiro.

September 29, 2013

I’m Jennifer Pastiloff and this series is designed to introduce the world to someone I find incredible. Someone who is manifesting their dreams on a daily basis. Someone like best-selling author Dani Shapiro.

When I read Dani’s book Devotion, my life changed. Just like that, I was on a plane to Bali to lead a retreat there, and if you told me that the plane had changed courses, I would have believed you. Dani’s latest book Still Writing, which releases on Tuesday, October 1st, is no different. I had the distinct honor to read an advanced copy, which I carried around like a dog-eared Bible of sorts. 

Dani Shapiro crystallizes more than 20 years’ worth of lessons learned from teaching and writing into the instructive and inspiring Still Writing ~ Vanity Fair

You know when you find a writer and you think “They are talking to me. They wrote this book for me. They are, in fact, a little piece of me.” That’s Dani.

Perhaps my favorite quote by Dani, “Everything I know about life, I learned from the daily practice of sitting down to write.” I remind myself of that quote every time the resistance comes up to sit down or to be present. It’s the daily practice. It’e the putting one foot in front of the other, or, one letter after the other. It’s the sitting down to do it.

Writers need hope. Writers need help. Thank you, Dani Shapiro. ~Michael Cunningham

It’s a huge honor to have her featured on this series. I have taken a break from it and what better way to make a re-entry than with Dani Shapiro? Please, whatever you do, pick up a book by her and hold it close to your heart. Read it. You won’t ever put it down. It will stay inscribed there on your heart forever. Isn’t that what good writing does?

Lastly, and this just makes me giddy to write, Dani will be on SuperSoul Sunday with Oprah on Sunday October 20th. Talk about manifesting! Without further ado, here is my beloved friend, Dani Shapiro…

dani - 12 copy

Jennifer Pastiloff: I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from this series but I’d like to start with the question I always start with. What are you most proud to have manifested in your life? 

Dani Shapiro: I have two immediate and powerful responses to that question.  The first is that I’ve manifested a happy family.  I’ve been genuinely, deeply, happily married for sixteen years.  I have a fourteen-year-old son who I’m very close to.  Both of these could so easily––as the poet Jane Kenyon once wrote so beautifully––could have been otherwise.  I was married twice before.  Once when I was still a teenager (!) and once in my twenties.  I made epically lousy choices in my romantic life until I met my husband.  And I was terrified to become a mother.  I had a very difficult relationship with my own mother, and I didn’t see the attraction.  Some women spend their whole lives wanting to become mothers.  This wasn’t me.  I experienced a single, stark moment of absolute grace when I thought I could become a mother––and I did. 

The second response is my life as a writer.  I was such a fuck-up.  You never would have looked at me, when I was in my early twenties, and thought: oh, yeah, that girl – she’s going to become a bestselling novelist and memoirist and is going to teach in universities.  Oh yeah, that girl is going to sit down with Oprah.  No… I don’t think so.  But I climbed my way out of the dark place I had burrowed myself into, and in a beautiful piece of symmetry, becoming a writer saved my life, a word, a sentence at a time.  

Jennifer Pastiloff: How did Devotion come to be? I read the book on a flight to Bali and it was one of those life-changing moments for me, where I bolted up out of my seat and started writing. My copy is now dog-eared and I assign it often to my students at workshops and retreats. Tell us, if you would, how that book was born?

Dani Shapiro: God, I love hearing that so much!  Thank you.  I was in the middle of my yoga practice when Devotion came to me.  I had been in a trough between novels, waiting for the next work of fiction to materialize, and on this particular day I was in tree pose, and suddenly the word “devotion” flashed before my eyes.  Nothing like this had ever happened to me.  I’ve never had a title before I’ve had a book.  I’ve written whole books before I’ve come upon the right title.  But as soon as I saw that word –– devotion –– I knew that it was a book, a memoir, an exploration of the spiritual and existential crisis I had found myself in.  I had been grappling with questions that I finally wanted to address directly, deeply, and as a writer the only way I know how to address anything is on the page.  I discover what I believe through the writing.  But this wasn’t particularly welcome news, I must say.  I hadn’t planned to write another memoir.  Certainly not a spiritual memoir.  But when a feeling of rightness accompanies an idea for a writer, you turn away from it at your own peril. 

Jennifer Pastiloff: As you know, one of my great dreams has been to be on Super Soul Sunday with Oprah. You, my friend, have had this dream become a reality. We’ve had a couple conversations where you have shared some gorgeous insight about this experience. I know you are planning on writing about it but would you tell my readers just a little about what that was like for you? The process of non-attachment, the letting go and having it return?

Dani Shapiro: I’ve learned so many things about myself, and about life, since I got the call inviting me to be a guest on “Super Soul Sunday” with Oprah.  The first revelation is about the nature of shock.  I had known for a long time that bad news could be shocking.  I’ve been on the receiving end of shocking bad news.  But what I hadn’t known is that good news can be shocking.  I had no idea that I was being considered for Super Soul.  I didn’t have a new book out when I got the call.  In fact, when Devotion came out in 2010, of course I had some faint hope that maybe the Oprah folks would come knocking, but who ever really thinks that will happen?  I don’t know why this is, but I really believe that things don’t happen when we’re trying to will them into being.  They don’t happen when we’re waiting for the phone to ring, or the email to pop up in our in box.  They don’t happen when we’re gripping too tightly.  They happen –– if they happen at all –– when we’ve fully let go of the results.  And, perhaps, when we’re ready.  I was much more ready for that phone call than I would have been in 2010.  I’d spent three years deepening my practice, thinking about spiritual matters, and living them.  I was more grounded and centered.  And that was my goal ­­–– when I sat down with Oprah.  My goal was to be centered and present.  Not to miss the experience.  Not to be all self-absorbed and self-conscious and up in my head.  I didn’t want to miss the moment.  I wanted to truly rise to the occasion. 

Jennifer Pastiloff: When will your Super Soul Sunday episode air?

Dani Shapiro: The air date is Sunday, October 20.

Jennifer Pastiloff: Expect to be delighted. I found this in a book years ago and I use it as one of the steps to manifesting in my workshops. Thoughts on this one? 

Dani Shapiro: Well, I love that.  Too often we expect the worst.  I spent a lot of my life being one of those “waiting for the other shoe to drop” people.  It doesn’t protect against the other shoe dropping, and all it really does is cause a lot of unnecessary anxiety.  But to anticipate delight is, perhaps, to cultivate delight!  What a wonderful way to live.  And why not?  I mean, we’re not in control.  We don’t know what will happen next.  Why not assume the very, very best?

Jennifer Pastiloff: What is the greatest lesson (or one of them) you have learned from being a mom?

Dani Shapiro: Being a mom has forced me to be more present, because I became aware, when my son was very small, that I didn’t want to look back on what really is a brief window in the span of a lifetime –– of early childhood, of his growing up, of his adolescence –– and feel like I had been elsewhere and missed it.  It’s easy to wish the time away.  Some of motherhood is boring, though most of us won’t admit it.  For instance, I do not like to play games.  I’m not a game-playing mom.  Not board games, not outdoor games.  And so I would find myself wishing those hours away, but I made myself stop living in the past or the future, and come to the awareness, instead, that this time of young motherhood would eventually become something I would feel nostalgia for.  I would miss it some day.  And so I wanted to be present for the very thing that I would some day miss.  

Jennifer Pastiloff: I know your husband is a filmmaker. Can you tell us a bit about what a day in the life of the Shapiro/Maren household is like?

Dani Shapiro: Every day is different!  When I’m working on a book, I’m home in my office in my yoga clothes, in a silent house, with just my dogs for company.  My husband has an office in a town near our house, and he heads there early in the morning, and that’s where he gets his work done.  But we both do a lot of traveling –– he directed his first feature film this year, “A Short History of Decay” and was in North Carolina for two months shooting.  That’s by far the longest we’ve been apart.  When I have a book out –– as I’m about to –– I’ll be on and off airplanes nearly every week for months at a time.  We live in rural Connecticut, which is very good for both of us, I think.  It’s a wonderful place to be based, and for our son to be growing up. 

Jennifer Pastiloff: Still Writing? I absolutely loved your blog piece about this and how people often ask that question. Still writing? In fact, your latest book is titled Still Writing. Can you tell us a little about the new book? When can we read it?

Dani Shapiro: Still Writing will be in bookstores October 1.  I began a blog a number of years ago about writing –– not so much about craft, but rather, what it takes to sit down day after day in solitude and with some sort of blind faith.  I was interested in exploring all the things that come up: resistance, fortitude, patience, frustration, the ability to withstand rejection –– all the struggles and challenges, as well as the incredible gifts and privileges, of spending life as a writer.  And the blog really caught on.  It took me by surprise.  I began receiving notes from all sorts of people telling me that they were reading it and getting something they needed out of it.  I never even considered writing a book based on the blog, but everyone kept asking –– and eventually it just seemed like something I should do.  I never once looked back at the blog, though, as I was writing Still Writing.  I wanted it to be a real book – part memoir, part meditation on the creative process.  I think of it as my love letter to creative people everywhere.  Writing saved my life –– in the book, I say that everything I know about how to live I have learned from the daily practice of struggling with the page.  And so I think the book is about those lessons, too.  

Still Writing by Dani Shapiro

Jennifer Pastiloff: Yoga. Tell us about how yoga has affected your life, as well as your writing? So many of my readers are a hybrid of yogis and writers and I find the crossover fascinating. One of the reasons I have them all read Devotion.

Dani Shapiro: I love that you have your yoga students read Devotion.  That means so much to me!  My yoga practice is so woven into my life as a writer that I can’t imagine one without the other.  In fact, the reason I work at home, rather than have an office outside of the house (which is sometimes very appealing!) is because I like the freedom of being able to unroll my mat in the middle of the day.  When I’m starting to feel stuck, or when my head gets too noisy, the one and only thing I have found that helps me come home to myself, and quiet my mind, is my yoga practice.  And while I love nothing more than a great yoga class (and am jealous of my friends who live near great studios all over the country) when I moved to Connecticut there weren’t any studios near my home, and so I built my own home practice, which I now love.  I unroll my mat in my bedroom, light a fire in my fireplace unless it’s the middle of summer, and I have these seven chakra sprays that Aveda makes lined up on my fireplace mantle, and a few crystals a healer once gave me –– this is my sanctuary. 

Jennifer Pastiloff: On being a Jew. Although you were raised with more structure around religion than I was, I felt I had found my soulmate when I read Devotion. You helped me arrive at the place of accepting that I absolutely did NOT have to put myself in a box or label myself as one thing or the other.

How does being “complicated with Jewishness” fit into your life now? It seems to be that a lot of the great spiritual leaders are Jews and that there is something inherent in Judaism that lends itself to spirituality as a whole. Tell us about being a writer, a yogi, a Jew and a spiritual seeker and a mom. I love this idea of I do not have to be just one thing. Watch me.

Dani Shapiro: Just yesterday, a writer friend who had just read an early copy of Still Writing paid me the ultimate compliment.  He told me that Still Writing felt to him like a prayer book.  That it felt Rabbinical in some way.  He felt the influence, he said, of all those Saturday mornings I spent sitting in synagogue with my father.  I tried not to deflect the compliment and really take it in.  These last years, since embarking on the journey that led to writing Devotion, have been a continuation of a path that I hope to wander for the rest of my life.  I am indeed complicated by my Judaism, in the way I think so many of us are “complicated” by our experiences of childhood religion.  Being Jewish is incredibly important to me, but I’m not observant.  At the same time, I cared deeply that my son know himself as Jewish –– not just culturally, but be steeped in the traditions and rituals.  His Bar Mitzvah last year –– which was completely homegrown, eclectic, held in a church, led by a female Rabbi with whom we’ve become close, with readings from Coleridge and Hannah Senesh, as well as the whole congregation singing Leonard Cohen’s “Broken Hallelujah” –– with my son playing his ukulele and me on the piano –– was one of the highlights of my life.  I looked around that church at all of our family and friends gathered and there was such love in that room, such a feeling of being part of something meaningful and real –– and I had built it –– we even made our own prayer books –– by necessity, and by choice, and out of a tremendous amount of focus on finding a way to do something that would truly resonate. 

It has been one of the biggest shifts in my life over these past few years, this feeling that I can be this and that.  Be Jewish and a great reader of eastern philosophy.  A messed up girl who grew up into a thoughtful and (hopefully not too messed up) woman.  A yogi who likes a good steak along with a bottle of Barolo.  An urbanite living in rural Connecticut.  All these things.  So what?  Why not?  I’ve been shrugging off definitions that have limited me.  The only person who can place these limiting definitions on us is ourselves. 

Jennifer Pastiloff: What would you say to yourself at 25 years old in terms of your career?

Dani Shapiro: Oh, dear girl, be patient.  Know that there is no well-lit path.  Know that your dreams for yourself at this moment are small and that you have no idea what life has in store for you.  Some of your disappointments and setbacks will turn out to be your greatest lessons.  More than anything, be in competition only with yourself.  You have the opportunity to spend your whole life getting better and better at what you do. 

What would you say to yourself 5 years ago?

I would say that worry is a waste of time.  That anxiety doesn’t change anything, it doesn’t protect us from anything.  All it does is sap us of our creative energy and impede our flow.  The things I’ve tended to worry about do not come to pass.  The difficulties I’ve had in my life are not ones I’ve anticipated.  So why not at least try to let go?  

JP: When was the last time you laughed at yourself?

DS: Yesterday.  A photographer was at my house, photographing me for a piece for The New York Times.  I was all dolled up, makeup, good hair, the whole deal – and they decided they wanted to take a picture of me on my yoga mat.  So I changed into my yoga clothes and sat in lotus position “meditating” while he took my picture.  Imagine the noise in my head!  Absurdity always makes me laugh.  All I could think was: “it’s come to this!” 

JP: Victor Frankl was able to mentally survive living in a concentration camp by finding beauty in a fish head floating in his soup. In a fish head.  Learning this is what inspired me to start the 5mostbeautifulthings Project. What if we walked around looking for beauty instead of looking for things to be stressed about or offended by? What if we trained our eyes and our hearts to tune into that which makes us cock our head to one side and close our eyes gently in an effort to memorize what we were looking at. What if it is all we got? What if all we have is our 5 beautiful things? What’s your fish head? What are your 5 most beautiful things right now, Dani?

DS: Literally right at this moment:

My son’s face.

My two dogs lying curled up in a patch of sunlight.

The changing leaves outside my window.  Autumn in New England.

My husband across the kitchen table me, both on our laptops.  A team.

The quiet and beauty of our lives.  Hard won.  Ephemeral.  Taking it in.

JP: Tell us about Sirenland. I just visited Positano after my Tuscany retreat and per your recommendation I went to Le Sireneuse, hugged the owners and had pink champagne with them. Le Sireneuse is where you hold Sirenland each March. I can safely say that it took my breath away. It’s a dream come true that you do this. What is Sirenland? How did it come to be? Who is teaching with you this year? Why Positano?

DS: Sirenland was born at a dinner party in Connecticut.  I had absolutely no dream of starting a writing conference.  My husband and I were at dinner at our friend Nancy Novogrod’s home –– she is the editor in chief of Travel+Leisure –– and she had invited, as she told me, her favorite hotel owners in the world.  These would be Antonio and Carla Sersale, owners of Le Sirenuse.  We had an incredibly fun evening together, and then a week later, I received an email from Antonio asking if I’d like to bring some writers to Italy.  This was eight years ago.  Sirenland has grown into one of the best writing conferences in the world.  We have thirty students come to Italy for a life-altering week.  (By the way, applications are now open at www.sirenland.net)  My son has gotten to grow up going each year to this miraculous place.  And we’ve made so many incredible friends.  I always teach one of the three workshops, and the other faculty rotates.  We’ve had Jim Shepard teach for a number of years.  Last year, Karen Russell (who just became the youngest person ever to win a MacArthur “genius” Award), this year the wonderful writers Meg Wolitzer and Andre Dubus III will be joining us. 

JP: I often ask “what are your rules to live by?” because I think it’s a fun way to hold ourselves accountable. Some of mine are: Don’t take yourself too seriously, sing out loud, write poems (even if only in your head), don’t worry, everyone on Facebook seems like they have happier lives (they don’t.) I ask people of all ages to do this, including children, and to see what people write is a joy. What are some of your rules to live by?

DS: Always tell the truth.

Practice discernment.

To have a friend you have to be a friend.

Use the Internet –– don’t allow the Internet to use you.

Try to live in the moment.

Love, love, love.  Spend it all.  Every little bit.

Hold nothing back. 

JP: Kripalu. I love that you lead workshops there, as I do. It is one of my favorite places to teach.  The beloved Berkshires. Tell us about Kripalu. When will you be there next?

DS: I love Kripalu, and love teaching there too.  I’ll be there to teach my first workshop based on Still Writing from November 1-3.  And as a special treat, my dear friend, the great yogi, scholar and writer Stephen Cope will be joining me on that Saturday night for an honest, open, deep conversation about writing, creativity, doing and living the work.  I’m so excited to be doing an event with Stephen.  And next June –– the 6th through the 8th – Stephen and I will co-teach a weekend writing and yoga retreat.

JP: I know you talk about it in Devotion but can you share with us how you met Stephen and how that relationship came to be? Sylvia Boorstein?

DS: That story is such a life-lesson in putting one foot in front of the other.  In saying yes, instead of no.  I first met Stephen on the page.  I was reading his gorgeous book, That story is such a life-lesson in putting one foot in front of the other.  In saying yes, instead of no.  I first met Stephen on the page.  I was reading his gorgeous book, Yoga and the Quest for the True Self.  It was, for me, one of those life-changing books.  I carried it around with me, underlining, doodling exclamation points in the margins.  And one summer afternoon I found myself at a library fundraiser –– I had promised ages before to attend –– and I was grumbling to myself the whole way there.  Didn’t want to go.  It was hot, humid, a bad hair day, and I was annoyed at myself for having agreed.  It was one of those events where authors sit behind piles of their books, in a sweltering tent, and people in linen jackets and madras shorts walk by carrying plastic cups of white wine.  Sound fun?  Anyway, I was shown to my table and sat grumpily down.  Then the author next to me leaned over to introduce himself.  “Hi,” he said.  “Steve Cope.”

He and I became immediate, fast friends.  I had his book with me in my bag!  I just couldn’t believe it.  Shortly thereafter, I signed up for a retreat he was teaching at Kripalu –– which was a place I had wanted to visit, but had always felt intimidated and resistant.  But now I had a pal there, so I pushed myself to go.  That weekend, he was teaching with a Buddhist named Sylvia Boorstein, who I hadn’t known, not being of that world.  Attending that retreat at Kripalu changed my life.  I made two of my dearest friends, teachers, fellow travelers, guides.  And now –– only four or five years later –– I am a part of the Kripalu family as well, and love leading my retreats there.  I’m going to be on the West Coast for my Still Writing book tour, and Sylvia and I are doing an event together at Book Passage in Marin County.  It will be one of the highlights of my book tour.  All because I showed up at a library event in Connecticut.  We never know what life has in store for us.    

JP: Who have been your greatest teachers?

DS: I had a great high school English teacher, Peter Cowen, who is still in my life.  Ditto for my 19th Century Literary Professor at Sarah Lawrence, Ilja Wachs, who taught me the art of close reading.  Grace Paley and Jerome Badanes were my teachers when I was in graduate school and I owe a tremendous debt to them both.  In recent years, Sylvia Boorstein and Stephen Cope.  My friend the great Rabbi Burton Visotzky, who gave me a new lens with which to read the Torah.  Then there are the teachers I’ve never met: Virginia Woolf.  Thomas Merton. 

JP: Advice to new writers reading this?

DS: Read my book!  Seriously –– I wrote it for you!  And if you don’t read my book, the one piece of advice I have is to read something worthwhile every day –– the poet Jane Kenyon describes this as “keeping good sentences in your ears.”  Reading is your best teacher.  Also, get used to rejection.  Get used to discomfort.  Who said it should be easy?  Writing well is hard, hard work.  Develop the ability to endure.  To stay in the chair. 

JP: I couldn’t be more excited that you are now writing for Positively Positive, along with Emily Rapp and myself. Writing for this site has definitely changed my life. I am humbled to be in your company there. What is up next for Dani Shapiro?

DS: I love writing for Positively Positive as well!  As for what’s next, I will be traveling to teach and give readings from Still Writing for the next bunch of months.  I can’t write and travel at the same time –– I need to sink in deeply –– so I will wait for the shimmer.  I will try to be patient and keep good sentences in my ears.  I will try to take care of myself and my loved ones, body and soul, and endure, so that I can sit down come spring and be…still writing!  

JP: G-d willing. We should live and be well. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

DS: Thanks, Jen!  You’re a beautiful force for good in the world.  I’m proud to know you.

Gratitude, Guest Posts, Manifestation Retreats, Manifestation Workshops

Why Every Mom Should Leave Home Sometimes – The Restorative Effect Of My First Yoga Retreat

February 26, 2013

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88

This blog post is taken from a great site called Do You Yoga. It is only an excerpt. To read the whole thing please click here or below. Nicole Markardt was at my Kripalu retreat. I will be back there again Feb 20-22, 2015!

By Nicole Markardt.

In many respects, I have travelled down the road of tradition in my life. I am a working mother that began creating my family at a fairly young age (by today’s standards). By age 31, I had two beautiful children and a wonderful husband.

While I feel incredibly blessed, the idea of going on a weekend retreat without my family seemed like an impossible feat. That was a far-off idea born in the land of the single woman.

Since discovering, and immersing myself in my Bikram yoga practice, I’ve uncovered a deep passion that resides in me to pursue this journey within. In the last year, I have managed to find the time in my schedule to consistently practice yoga. I began to read more about this ancient spiritual and physical discipline and soon began following other yogi’s that inspire me. I’d been following Jennifer Pastiloff on facebook for quite a while. After reading her amazing essays on manifestation, I was truly inspired.

I read about her -Manifestation Yoga retreat @Kripalu Center for Yoga and Wellness and was instantly intrigued. I discussed this idea with one of my dearest friends, whom I am also incredibly inspired by. Having been to Kripalu before, she was very enthusiastic. I knew that if she and I shared in this together it would surely be memorable. At first, I felt immense guilt. My inner dialogue was full of self-doubt, “can I really leave my children and go away for the weekend?” “Is that self indulgent?” “Am I a ‘bad mother’?”

After much contemplation and I went.

Read the rest here and make sure to leave Nicole a comment!

Why-Every-Mom-Should-Leave-Home-Sometimes-The-Restorative-Effect-Of-My-First-Yoga-Retreat

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

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

Beauty Hunting, Forgiveness, healing

What Forgiveness Does.

February 5, 2013
By Jen Pastiloff.
beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black
There was this woman at my retreat last weekend at Kripalu in the Massachusetts Berkshires, who, when we were doing an exercise on forgiveness, told me that she was done forgiving. Had spent her whole life forgiving and was done. She was in her seventies and her husband had died the week before. 
 
Being done. I understood that.
 
A life of forgiving someone their mistakes. A life of forgiving ourselves our own imperfections and mistakes and misgivings. I get that wanting to be done with forgiving already, the I am Godamn sick of forgiving, I want nothing to have to forgive already. I want to be free.

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