Don’t let them steal your happy. Tattoo it on your brain!
That’s right, you read it right.
Apparently my husband and I had one last night.
At least, according to the note pinned to our front door.
I can assure you that it was not Robert and I. (Okay, I can’t really assure you but I am telling you.) Trust me, I would be proud if said sexorcism was ours.
I was sick last night and in bed with A Visit from the Goon Squad and Rob was eating salt-n-vinegar chips and watching soccer. I was asleep early with tissues in my nostrils because my nose wouldn’t stop running. Sexy, right?
Rob told me the couple in the building across way were going at it really loudly. Naturally, with my hearing loss, I did not hear. (I miss out on all the fun.)
I wish I had the courage to leave a note like that on someone’s door.
(Actually, no. I don’t.)
Nonetheless, the note made my day. I am going to leave it there.
Jennifer Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Salon, and more. Jen leads her signature Manifestation Retreats & Workshops all over the world. The next retreat is to Ojai, Calif over Labor Day. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up: Seattle, London, Atlanta, South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Tucson & The Berkshires (guest speaker Canyon Ranch.) She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.
Wanna know what they are?
Love you guys,
Here is an excerpt…
1) How to be present
Ronan just is. He sits there in his stroller or propped up on his pillows and simply soaks up the energy of the room, a big baby sponge who sometimes has choking fits and seizures. He doesn’t ask for much. He knows when his mom is near. He knows when love is present. He knows when he needs to be fed. You feel silly when you find yourself worrying about the “what if’s” of life when you are in his presence, like he is some baby Buddha who has all the answers. He understands what it means to be still and also to have no expectations. He is present for his life in a way that is at once disarming and beautiful.
2) How to love
The love you feel for this child is impossible. Can’t you feel it, even having never met him? What if we let ourselves love in this way more often? Without any expectations, without regret, with only the here and the now and the open-hearted abandon that comes with knowing how fast the clock is ticking… how each kiss on his soft little face could be the last?
My latest on MindBodyGreen is near and dear to me. Ask yourself “How May I Serve?” What comes up when you say that?
In the irony of all ironies, it is the question How may I serve? that actually saves us from feeling lost and which also moves us forward in life.
1) Find something you are passionate about and give back. For me, it is helping kids with special needs. I offer them free yoga. I hold fundraisers, I donate proceeds from my t-shirts. Whatever it is, find something you are passionate about and volunteer your time, money or voice. It doesn’t have to be big. It can literally be a posting on Facebook.
Click here to keep reading and please leave comment on actual MindBodyGreen post. Keep manifesting xo jen
My latest on MindBodyGreen talks about how I did my wedding. It was NOT traditional, to say the least.
I also offer suggestions for you as to how to have your dream wedding.
The above photo was taken at my wedding at The Yoga Collective in Santa Monica where I held it. I asked people to bring donations and we gave all the money to Haiti for the earthquake relief. Click photo to read article.
I’ve been married two years. Two awesome and lovely years. Two years I wouldn’t trade for any other years even if someone offered: “Hey, wanna trade your two years for mine?”
I don’t have kids yet. Notice I said yet. I want to take advantage of this time before we do because I know full well that life changes with children. I have nephews. I have friends. I have eyes. Having said that, a lot of my friends say that having a baby brought them closer to their spouse. I am not prepared to write about that as it would be like the desert trying to describe an ocean. It can’t really know what it’s like.
What I do know is that kids or no kids, it is important to keep the spark alive. And as I can only speak to what I know – here are 5 ways to spark your sex life.
1) Feel sexy
I know when I am struggling with my old eating disorder demons, which rear their ugly head once in a while, I feel like a monster. It is a very old tape but once it starts playing I feel bad about myself. Then I start projecting that nonsense. It’s hard for someone else to find you sexy and irresistible when you yourself feel disgusting, or fat, or ugly, or any of the other detrimental adjective we can conjure up. So go out and make yourself feel sexy, dammit!
Go get a manicure or pedicure. Get your hair done. Go exercise; it’ll release endorphins and make you feel better within 20 minutes. Write a love letter to yourself. Do something you are really good at. Put on your favorite outfit. Put on some nice shoes.
Whatever it takes, just make yourself feel sexy.
2) Let someone else make you feel sexy
My husband thinks I am the most gorgeous woman in the world (God bless his sweet soul!). Oftentimes, I deflect his affections or attention because I either don’t feel sexy and beautiful or because I am busy working. Whatever the reason is, it creates a profound cause and effect. It’s very hard for two people to be intimate with one another if one party is shutting the other down or is not willing to accept the love. If someone is trying to make you feel sexy – let them.
3) Get the heck outta Dodge!
Get out of town. I now lead retreats all around the world so sometimes I take my husband with me. I cannot express enough the importance of this is. I know you may not be a yoga teacher and you may not even be able to leave the state, but get away regardless.
Go camp out on the beach. Go get a hotel room down the street. Go do something that is out of the ordinary and feels special and different. Trust me, having sex somewhere else is exciting. I don’t care how long you have been married or how long it has been since you’ve done the deed. It’s the spark that will reignite that flame. It doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy. It just needs to be not at home. It needs to feel a little magical.
We all want that little bit of magic.
4) Date night
Once a week. Once a month. Whatever! Just do it. Go see a movie. Get dressed up. Have dinner. Stay in and stay naked but plan it and do it. Be present for it. Shut off Facebook and cell phones. If you have kids, get a babysitter. Date each other. People who date each other want to sleep with each other. You start to find things that are interesting and sexy about the other person that you may have forgotten or never even known. Why should we stop dating or getting to know each other just because we have been together a while or gotten married? Date. Each. Other.
5) Focus on YOU
It’s boring to be with someone who makes you the focus of their life 100% of the time. I used to be that someone. I dated a man many years ago and my happiness completely revolved around him. I was terribly unhappy at the time and had nothing that made me feel alive so I put everything on him. Now, with my husband, I have my own passions and career and dreams. That is not to say he isn’t a part of it. He is very much a part of it but I am my own person and that in itself is wildly sexy to men and women. We want someone that has something to talk about, that has a fire inside of them.
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t have a passion right now (beating yourself is way unsexy), but rather go out and start finding things that make you feel good. When you come together with your partner you then have that goodness inside of you, ready to spread it.
The bottom line is this: Connection is important. Find ways to get creative and to keep it fresh. Just like we need to do with every area of our lives. Our sex life is no different. Sometimes it needs a kick in the pants. Sometimes it needs a good yoga class or a big drink of wine or a new haircut or a date night.
Whatever it needs, provide it. Be sexy. Be you 100%.
- What songs make me tap my foot, swing my hips and shake my booty?
- Who makes me want to be a better person?
- What type of pizza – although it may burn the roof of my mouth – makes me feel like I am in Naples, Italy even if I am in New Jersey at a hole in the wall in a strip mall?
- Which words make me want to capture them and put them in a bottle? My own private lightning bug words that will light me up when I forget what light feels like…
- Which friends have I lost along the way only to discover that they were there all along, stuck in a little cave-like piece of my heart that has a door which sometimes sticks but will open when pried very hard?
- What books do I want to carry with me as maps no matter how dog-eared and tattered as I roam through adulthood?
- Which memories make me smile no matter how badly my heart has been shattered? Which memories have the ability like glue to start picking the pieces of my heart off the floor and putting them back like the puzzle they are. Memories of eating pizza with my kids or playing backgammon or drinking whiskey in Paris or rolling down a hill in a white dress or the time you slept in the wrong house… those kinds of memories.
Please check out my latest on MindBodyGreen to read the rest and leave your comment there. I would love to hear what is on your own personal joy list.
Love you all, jen
This original piece, never seen before, is by the awe-inspiring Danielle Orner. I love how the Universe works and how we met. I wrote a piece for MindBodyGreen about Putting Your Excuses in a Pile Of Sh*t and the editors chose a picture of a girl in a yoga pose holding up her leg. The leg she was holding was a prosthetic leg. A woman commented on the post saying “Hey that is a picture of my daughter.” The daughter, Danielle, reached out to me and since then we have become friends. I have even put her in touch with Emily Rapp, one of my best friends, who is also a yogi, writer and amputee and they are now friends. Connection is amazing, isn’t it? However it occurs.
Below is Danielle’s inspiring story! Please read and share and spread her message. She may have lost her leg but she saved her life and is sharing her generous spirit with us.
By Dani Orner.
With the crown of my head on the mat, I watch my toes. I walk my feet, one plastic and one real, toward my face.
Sweat trickles down my back and my core contracts. Even though I feel my body working, it still seems like magic to see one foot and then the other float off the floor. I can hover in headstand for only a moment but I’ve learned by now that today’s limits will be tomorrow’s victories. After all, I used to believe that yoga wasn’t for me.
I used to believe my body was the enemy – the ticking time bomb, daring me to try to live between cancer treatments.
At fifteen, I was an honors student, a varsity runner, a singer, and an aspiring actress. When a running injury grew into a lump just below my knee, I discovered I was also a cancer patient.
I began my life in the children’s oncology ward with fake tattoos and body glitter on my bald head. Armed with a dedicated family and supportive community, I did everything I could to remain positive. People called me an inspiration, but honestly, I did whatever I could to survive. With four younger brothers and a dad in the Marines, I felt guilty for taking up all my mom’s time. She had to give me daily shots, help me bathe, and slept beside me in the hospital room during weeklong chemotherapy sessions. I knew if I couldn’t smile my family and friends would drift away. My greatest fear was that I’d be left alone, left out, and left behind.
Just before my sixteenth birthday, the doctors decided I needed an amputation to prevent the spread of my bone cancer. Although I felt a strange sense of peace about this decision, I also knew that no one would ever see me as well again. I would always be sick and broken in everyone else’s eyes.
I learned to walk again. When I had legs made, my prosthesis’ goal was always to make me look and move as normally as possible. The best I could do was “pass” for able-bodied. Ashamed of my flesh-toned covers, I stuck to wearing pants and avoided walking past windows where I could see the reflection of my halting gate. I auditioned for school plays but avoided changing in the dressing room. My body was an obstacle to my goals. An actress is supposed to be able to melt into whatever character she is playing. She should be able to be beautiful and sexy when the role calls for it. Try as I might, I couldn’t transcend or pretend my way out of my identity. I was always anchored to reality by a hunk of metal.
I had what I believed was my last chemotherapy treatment on the night another girl died. We had shared hospital rooms and I knew her family members, who often brought homemade tamales. I went to hold her hand one last time before I left. Her family had decided against amputation, fearing their daughter would be damaged beyond repair. Who would marry a girl like that, they worried. I walked out of the hospital that night, broken but alive, wondering why I had been saved. I vowed to make a difference, to be worthy of the work and resources the doctors and my family had put into me.
Before my high school graduation, the cancer returned in my lungs. The doctors cut through muscle and spread my ribs to surgically remove the tumors. Two years later, more grew back. The pattern of re-occurance continued until the heart-stopping doctors’ calls blurred into one memory of hopelessness. Even when I was well, I planned my life in the three-month incriminates between scans. I couldn’t feel the cancer growing, so I stopped trusting my body.
For over a decade, I let doctors, specialists, and the scans take control of my health. I felt completely out of control. I stopped telling people about my amputation and cancer. I didn’t want to be defined by it. In college, I threw myself into a frenzy of acting, journalism, working as a resident advisor, and writing. After graduation, I got my teaching credentials as a way of giving back to the community. A second full round of chemotherapy after four lung surgeries woke me up. I had to learn to care for myself.
The doctors recommended removing my ovaries to protect my fertility from a second year of toxic treatments. I declined. I already knew the side effects of my treatments included Leukemia along with cardiac damage, hearing loss, and many other debilitating possibilities. Fertility concerns seemed vain and frivolous compared to these risks. No one had promised me a future since my initial diagnoses when I ask my mom, for the first and only time, if I was going to die. If I ever managed to attain health, I decided I would adopt. I didn’t know then that preexisting conditions make the already difficult process of adoption nearly impossible. All I knew was that I’d always worked extensively with kids so I could love any child when the time came. Besides, I couldn’t stomach the idea of yet another surgery and additional medical bills my parents would have to pick up.
By this point, I was angry with God. I grew up in a very spiritual family and was taught to look for lessons in all experiences. But I wanted to know what I could possibly learn from having the same horrible experience over and over again. I had done all I could to inspire people with my faith and courage in the face of adversity but I still wasn’t getting well. I was deeply frustrated at not being able to build a life worthy of all the sacrifices made to keep me alive. Depression and survivors’ guilt set in as I began to fear my life would never change. Apparently, I still had everything to learn.
Those years for me are what we writers like to call “the dark night of the soul.”
Struggling in a marriage to my high school sweetheart who grew frustrated with my emotions and needs, I was terrified that letting go might mean no one would ever be able to love me again. Our ten year relationship had protected me from the trauma of trying to figure myself out and date as an amputee and cancer patient. He knew what I had been through. He had witnessed my body shutting down from an anaphlactic reaction to experimental chemo and taken me to get a brain scan at two in the morning because I kept blacking out. If he didn’t want to work on building a life with me and encouraging my dreams, maybe no one would. Maybe I had nothing left to give.
Desperate for new tools, I started doing my research. I discovered Kris Carr, The China Study, and many other anti-cancer diet books. I began experimenting with new recipes. I visited a farm animal sanctuary. I became a vegan and focused on a diet rich in whole foods. I started craving a form of exercise that could reconnect my mind and body. I wanted to find peace, strength, and balance. I had already returned to weight lifting and cardio. Still, I needed to reach a deeper level of acceptance.
I was worried I wouldn’t be welcome in a general yoga class. I was afraid of making a fool of myself or of being pitied. So, I practiced at home with DVDs and books. I couldn’t find any specialized classes for someone like me. Still, I had the nagging desire to overcome my fears and practice with others. I had to dismiss the idea that yoga is only for the few – for the graceful, the flexible, and the whole.
Finally, I attend a class. I hid in the back. I was terrified that I’d end up standing around the whole time unable to follow the flow. Self-conscious and awkward, I did what I could. I kept showing up and the amount of things I could do increased. The number of poses I learned to modify grew. I found myself moving through entire classes. I no longer cared that people could see my prosthetic leg in certain poses.
Yoga defies expectations. Over the years I’ve watched people walk into class with an array of expectations of what yoga will be for them: easy, torturous, simply exercise, youth-restoring, spiritual, woo-woo, relaxing, boring, weird, and life-changing. Once you begin your practice, you learn to give up those labels and just show up. In each of my classes, I never know what is coming next. I never know if it will be something I can do or something I have to work on or something I’ll never be able to master. I’m okay with that now. I’m okay with showing up to uncertainty.
Yoga helps me realize that life is a combination of practice and letting go.
As a writer and actress, I deal daily with the cycle of creation, risk, rejection, and getting back out there. Creation happens in the midst of doubt and obstacles. I never know if a book will sell but I start writing those first words anyway. I don’t know when or where funding will come from when I sit down with a team of directors and producers but I edit my screenplay anyway. Like a strength pose where I am learning to relax muscles even as I they shake with effort, I breath into my projects. Yoga reminds me to live in the now. It reminds me, if I keep showing up for myself, I can do more than I imagined.
Several times, I have gone into auditions only to have directors say some version of “you’re great but what’s wrong with your leg.” One even told me he was ready to cast me in the lead as long as my leg was healed by opening night. He thought I had a brace. He ended up casting me anyway. Some casting directors would be excited about me until they watched me walk, painfully slow, up the stairs. I always wore pants and worked hard at “overcoming” the problem of my limp.
In an industry that is all about appearance, I’ve often thought I was at a disadvantage. Sure I could get theater scholarships and do community productions, but make a career out of it, no way. Then, I started combining my talents and writing my own roles. I’ve discovered that I am in the perfect place to tell stories that haven’t been told. I decided to embrace all parts of my identity and stop judging myself by how well I passed for “normal.” I began connecting with other amputees and think of our shared identity as a culture – one we could celebrate.
Now, I dream of pushing the boundaries – both in my life and work – of what is considered feminine, healthy, and sexy. I had to let go of my survivors’ guilt and stop trying to be someone worthy of being saved. Being “an inspiration” can be extremely lonely; especially when I let that title keep me from being, saying, and doing what my true self desired. Despite disappointed friends and family, I let go of a marriage that no longer served me. Currently, I continue to work on the fear associated with the type of films I’d like to make and messages I’d like to send. Will people see me differently after they know what goes on in my head? Maybe. But I’m opening myself anyway. I’m tired of clutching my life so close.
In the western world, we are so competitive and so focused on keeping hold of things we have no control over. We set ourselves against our own bodies. We talk in terms of fighting back the bulge, the disease, and the clock. We hold tight to images of what we need to be before we find happiness. We think of diets and exercise in terms of deprivation and torture. We push and we struggle. I had to let go of the fight. Now, I listen for where I need to go and take steps into the darkness. I embrace my body in sickness and in health, in triumph and in failure, in strength and in weakness.
Three years into remission, I am no longer afraid. I used to spend so much time worrying about whether or not cancer was growing inside me. I worried about what the treatments would take away from me – my hair, my energy, my career, comfort, future plans, pieces of my body. Now, I treat my body like a temple with fresh vegan food, relaxation, and forgiveness. I celebrate what is here now. I put more scars on my mat than there are scars on my body. No matter what comes, I will be present for it.
Being committed to my health and the environment gives me a sense of stability in a tumultuous, and at times toxic, world. I love it when people ask me how they can change their lives to be more like me. I think it’s kind of funny when people forget to pity me. Together, we are learning to see vibrance instead of disability. I’ve changed the intention behind the question: why me?
For me, yoga is more than an exercise; it is a spiritual practice. When I am on my mat, I remember to just be. I remember that life is a balance between what we can control and what we can’t. I’m learning to live between effort and surrender.
Please share this post!
One of mine is that when things are going well, or I am happy, that it will be taken away.
I talk about this and more in my latest MindBodyGreen post. Please click here and let me know what your greatest fear is.
The more we see how similar we all are, the less scary they feel, the less alone we feel. Incidentally, being alone seems to be a lot of folks number one fear.
As always, thank you for your support in my writings that are outside my own blog, especially. You all mean the world to me.
Our Greatest Fear
Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate,
but that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.