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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.

And So It Is, Letting Go

And Then It Was Time To Let Go.

June 19, 2013
JENphoto_4_4

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Jen Pastiloff

And then it was time to let go.

It should be the name of a season. Or a day of the week, at the very least. Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Then It Was Time To Let Go.

And then it was time to let go and I felt my arms floating back to the sides of my body like weightless things and all that I had been clutching fell onto the floor where I watched them fight a little then give up, as things tend to do.

I’ve been on this mission to get on Oprah. Her SuperSoul Sunday show. At my last retreat, the transformation was so profound, the connection was so deep, I knew: Oprah must know of this work. I couldn’t think of anyone else with the utter scope and reach of Oprah.

I wanted Oprah. I decided it. I made it so.

I told everyone and a campaign was started and people were tweeting Oprah and her people and I could feel the buzz of This is happening in the air, at least through the ether of the internet. And that buzz felt good. It felt like the excitement of your dream hanging between you matter and you don’t matter.

Everyone wants to think they matter.

And don’t they? Doesn’t that guy that hangs out in the parking lot of Whole Foods with the sign that says Anything Helps matter? Even though you can’t look at him anymore because he’s been there for years and come on, it’s been years, why don’t you have a job, Man-In-Whole-Foods-Parking-Lot? But he matters and we give him food or a couple bucks or maybe not, maybe nothing, because we have been giving him money and food and guilt for what seems to be too long and he has had that same sign for years and then it was time to let go.

But he does matter.

He matters. Maybe he had a wife once or a kid and a house with a broken door and a job at this store that sold tiles, but who knows, we’re busy, there’s a line of cars trying to get out of the parking lot and if everyone stops and rolls down their window to give him their version of anything then everyone will be late and the traffic will get jammed but be not mistaken; he matters.

When our dreams hover right there at that spot where they feel as if they could go this way or that, and, this way means: I’ve made it, I am somebody. And that way means: I am invisible, most start pushing for this way. For the I made it. I matter.

I decided to let go of the Oprah thing because I realized that if it was going to happen I had to let it go. And then it was time to let go.  Winter, spring, summer and then it was time to let go.

I am not sad nor do I feel stupid for asking everyone to help me with this dream although I had a few seconds of Who Do You Think You Are, You Don’t Matter this morning.

Imagine if we all regretted everything we pursued? We’d be in a lake of regret, swimming in shit.

To be unattached, untethered to outcome. To be swimming in the truth of who you are versus the idea of who you are. What you hear when you swim the illusion of who you are: You are worth something. You did it! You won! You are the best!

I get attached to things.

I’ve had this sofa for over 15 years. My mom had it custom made in the mid 90’s and it got passed on to me.  It was my prized possession and almost everyone I know has slept on it, cried on it, had sex on it.

The thing is, this couch is old now and the cushions are deflated and sitting on it is a lumpy experience which leaves me angry. I wish we had more money. If we had more money, we’d get a new couch. If we had more money we’d matter.

Money = matter. Money = mattering. In our minds. Deep in the recesses of our cavernous minds we have created this lie.

So my friend offers me her couch because she is moving. It’s a nice couch too. After months of planning and going back and forth on if it would be worth it because to get out current couch out we have to throw it over the balcony due to its size. We agree to take the friend’s sofa so we hire some guys whom we pay one hundred dollars and two Bud Lights to in order to move it (throw it over balcony) for us.

They put the old sofa in the alley after they strip it of the cover and cushions.

I’ve had anxiety all day.

Did I make a mistake? Was my old couch better? What have I done? Does the new one even look good in our apartment? I’ve fucked up. Again. I want my sofa back. 

I went to the alley and three young kids were smoking weed on it. Should I try and bring it back up to the apartment? Have I abandoned my child? This couch was like  a child. What have I done?

I sat on the new(er) couch and I felt my arms floating back to the sides of my body like weightless things and all the things I had been clutching fell onto the floor where I watched them fight a little then give up, as things tend to do.

Goodbye old sofa. I’m going to let the guys enjoy smoking weed on you. It’s time. I am not going to try and get you back.

And then it was time to let go.

We matter with our signs asking for anything at all and our pleas to Oprah and our dreams. We matter as we climb the stairs to our apartments and adjust to the shock of a new sofa sitting there and how sitting down on that sofa will feel awkward at first then comfortable and then finally, there’ll come a time when we won’t remember anything else but the way this feels. (Was there ever anything else?)

Our memories are so short-termed like that once we let go.

How do you know when it’s time to let go then? When that particular season is upon us?

You know because your arms get heavy. Something sits in your chest and you can’t name it but you find yourself clinging to it as if it is a nameable thing.

All those heavy objects knocking about in your chest.

There’s not much we need to hold onto. It takes ages to realize the sofa is on its last leg. It takes lifetimes to realize that all the accolades and all the signs we carry, that they don’t mean much.

Then it was time to let go.

 

The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for May 25th cleanse. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the new season of spring. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation.

The 12 Day Detox is here. Sign up now for May 25th cleanse. Space is limited. This detox comes at just the perfect time. Reprogram your body and mind as we move into the new season of spring. This is your time of rejuvenation and renewal.This is not a juice fast, or a detox based on deprivation.

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. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that's it! Summer or Fall 2015. It is LIFE CHANGING!

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. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that’s it! Summer or Fall 2015. It is LIFE CHANGING!

Do you want the space and joy to get back into your body? To get into your words and stories?  Join Jen Pastiloff and best-selling author Lidia Yuknavitch over Labor Day weekend 2015 for their 2nd Writing & The Body Retreat in Ojai, California following their last one, which sold out in 48 hours. You do NOT have to be a writer or a yogi.  "So I’ve finally figured out how to describe Jen Pastiloff's Writing and the Body yoga retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch. It’s story-letting, like blood-letting but more medically accurate: Bleed out the stories that hold you down, get held in the telling by a roomful of amazing women whose stories gut you, guide you. Move them through your body with poses, music, Jen’s booming voice, Lidia’s literary I’m-not-sorry. Write renewed, truthful. Float-stumble home. Keep writing." ~ Pema Rocker, attendee of Writing & The Body Feb 2015

Do you want the space and joy to get back into your body?
To get into your words and stories? Join Jen Pastiloff and best-selling author Lidia Yuknavitch over Labor Day weekend 2015 for their 2nd Writing & The Body Retreat in Ojai, California following their last one, which sold out in 48 hours. You do NOT have to be a writer or a yogi.
“So I’ve finally figured out how to describe Jen Pastiloff’s Writing and the Body yoga retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch. It’s story-letting, like blood-letting but more medically accurate: Bleed out the stories that hold you down, get held in the telling by a roomful of amazing women whose stories gut you, guide you. Move them through your body with poses, music, Jen’s booming voice, Lidia’s literary I’m-not-sorry. Write renewed, truthful. Float-stumble home. Keep writing.” ~ Pema Rocker, attendee of Writing & The Body Feb 2015

Video

The One on The Ego. And Yes, There Is Enough.

May 27, 2013

please don’t forget to spread the word about my contest. Keep tweeting Oprah for me. Here is link http://manifestationyoga.com/5mostbeautifulthings-contest-win-a-retreat-more-details-here/. Love you guys. Enjoy your long weekend xoxo jen

And So It Is, Delight, Inspiration

It’s Going To Be Okay.

May 19, 2013

This morning, someone tweeted the question “What words do you turn to for comfort?”

It’s going to be okay. Everything is going to be alright.

Those are my words. I couldn’t stop thinking them, even after I typed them in and sent them back to her through Twitter-land.

What words do you turn to for comfort? as if I am all alone, in a room, and these words are standing there with big, wide open, flabby arms. Here, now now, we’ve got you. Come here bubbeleh. It’s going to be okay. Everything is going to be alright. Hefty words. Jewish words that smell like grandmother. Like Bubby. Words like brisket and floral dresses and wet mouths. Words that love and coddle and reassure. Words with hard “k” sounds, the “ah” in alright a sound like God. Powerful, all knowing. This is just the way it is. It is going to be alright. And so it is. Words that know their purpose in the world and deem themselves valuable and worthy even as you tell them how untrue they are, how much of a lie they must be, how they stand in front of you with open arms knowing damn well that thing are not okay. How can everything be alright when it’s not? you may sob into their blubbery arms. And the hardness of their bodies softens into a trusty thing and comfort is there in the room with you, sitting on the corner in your old chair like it had been there all along.

You turn to it and nod knowing that it’s that easy, that all you have to do is find someone to speak those words, to embody that grandmotherly intuition and just like that: Comfort is back in the room, helping you breathe and tie your shoes and get on with your day.

I’m a big advocate of safety. I like to feel safe. I seek out situations and people and words that make me feel safe to a fault. I didn’t have to think about it at all. The words buried under my tongue like little hopefuls.

They are always there, waiting in the wings. It’s going to be okay. Don’t worry in my mouth, fraying in the back of my throat, choking in my spit. It’s going to be alright buried in my gums.

I brought it as a the theme to my yoga class this morning after I saw Harriet Seitler’s tweet. This idea of comfort and how we seek out solace wherever we can, even in things as temporal as language.

I asked the people in my class what some of their own words were that they turned to for comfort. Answers varied from I love you to You did great to the ones-I-couldn’t-hear-because- I-am-nearly-deaf, but the gist was the same as my set of words. My own personal grandmotherly set of words were the same grandmotherly set of words for so many others. So many grandmothers walking around in calf-lengths, telling us all that we shouldn’t worry, that we were safe, that it would all be okay in the end.

May we all remember such comfort I suggested to the class before they opened their eyes and got up, moving on with their Sunday Starbucks and chores and kids’ soccer games. May we all remember the grandmother on our shoulders.  

We think that we deserve this stress we carry like it’s our birthright. I don’t deserve to be happy. I don’t deserve to be comforted when there is so much pain in the world. We think that if we keep ourselves busy, that if we keep moving, keep clocking in and out, the pattern of days all we have to keep us afloat, that we will succumb to the truth.

And what is the truth? That nobody is happy? That everyone is in pain?

Well, yes. Maybe there is some truth in that.

But that’s not the whole story. You can take comfort in that knowing.

Yes, people are filled with so much pain. Spend some time with them and you’ll see. It’s everywhere, this pain. This yearning for comfort and looking for it in even the most unlikely of places. Looking for it through drink and sex and the internet.

Anywhere really.

People are also filled with so much love. Spend some time with them and you’ll see. They are dying to be touched and also this: to give their love away.

People: so complex and different and so very much the same. Just like the words we choose to comfort us. Our grandmotherly words all so different and all so similar in their old lady shoes and wrinkled hands.

Everyone wanting to be told: You did good. That it’s going to be okay after all. Despite it all. Because of it all.

You did good.

Go tell someone you love that you love them. That it’s going to be okay. Right now. Go ask someone how they are doing and wait for their answer there in the doorway even if they stumble on their words as their eyes well up with water. Go hug someone. Hold it a little longer than usual. This is how we chip away at the pain. This is how we fill ourselves up with love.

Those words you turn to for comfort exist inside that place of love and they shift when you enter it. You may have thought they were one thing until you love so fully and find out that they were only in disguise. That they weren’t what you thought they were after all. They weren’t a grandmother in a floral dress. That they weren’t loud or big. They were soft, a whisper-like soundtrack, barely audible by human ears. Perhaps only audible by touch.

What the words speak: You are exactly where you need to be. They say things like It’s not going to be okay. It is okay. 

They stop speaking in future tenses. They exist only in the here.

I am a poet. I love words and the carnival of sound they create in the mind and how they etch a place in my imagination I can escape to when I am lonely or happy. Or when I feel nothing.

Words are powerful and I do believe that the ones that bring us great comfort should be duly noted, tattooed in our minds as needed.

However, they will change as we change. As we grow into adult versions of ourselves (as if that ever happens) the words we look to for comfort might fall away like old cells and although we might vaguely remember them like we vaguely remember our seven year old faces, we know that it’s no longer us. If we reach up and touch our cheeks we feel a roughness that wasn’t there at age seven. Our noses are bigger. We don’t break or stop working because we’ve lost parts of ourselves.

We don’t need those cells anymore to move our blood along, to wake up in the morning and make the coffee. We’ve made new cells. We’ve regenerated.

Touch your cheek and remember how it feels because when you are very very old, say, as old as your grandmother, your cheek will feel different than it does right now and perhaps that will bring you some comfort. This great big life you’ve led and how your face is weathered but the love! The love you’ve brushed up against with this cheek is worth every word in the world.

We might look back at the words that used to bring us comfort and shake our heads knowingly at them like someone we once loved asking to come back again. We have the wherewithal to know that the last time we let them come back they hadn’t changed, that things were exactly the same as they always had been and that the farthest thing we’d felt was “comfort”. Comfort was a mile away at all times. So we know this and look past the set of words that used to bring us comfort and accept that although we are not perfect, we have grown and what once made us feel safe as houses, no longer does.

All the words that you look for in your bedrooms and grandmothers and old chairs are simply a reminder of that feeling of safety. The thing is, if you ask me, comfort is all around.

Look, love is everywhere.

Look love, it’s everywhere.

Look everywhere, it’s love.

However you word it, it is. It’s going to be okay.

 

poster by Simplereminders.com

poster by Simplereminders.com

 

Guest Posts, How To, Inspiration, manifesting

Epiphany on Vision Boards. Guest Post by Elise Ballard.

May 23, 2012
Elise Ballard's inspirational book. Click to order through Amazon.

Elise Ballard’s inspirational book. Click to order through Amazon.

The following post is by my soul sister Elise Ballard. I met Elise in NYC where we attended Oprah’s LifeClass together. Elise and I both write for Positively Positive and she happens to be the author of one of my favorite books, Epiphany! We met in NYC and have been connected ever since. It was meant to be, there is no doubt about that. This morning, during a phone chat, Elise shared with me that she had created vision boards and put exactly what she had wanted on them. And you know what? She got those very things. Look at the photo of the book above, folks. That book is a result of a seed in her imagination first, and then yes, a load of hard work. 

The theme in class this week is imagination and the mantra is ” I am already there” so our phone call felt so timely. As does our friendship. (Also, stay tuned because Elise and I are hosting a Twitter contest where you can win a spot at my October Manifestation retreat and a copy of her signed book!)

She shared with me the following post she wrote 2 years ago and I knew I had to share.  You all know my love of the vision board. We even do them at my retreats and workshops. I hope you are as inspired by her post and her success as I am. And yes, she will be featured soon in The Manifestation Q&A Series.

Elise and I at Radio City Music Hall in NYC with Oprah

For All Those Vision Board Doubting Thomas’s by Elise Ballard.

elise-ballard

I never put much credence in Vision Boards (this is a link to a great article about them) but I kept hearing how amazing things were happening for friends of mine and reading about them so I thought, “What the hey – I need all the help I can get at this point.” It was September 2009 and I had been working for almost an entire year developing this project, writing the book proposal and creating and launching my site. We were about to submit to publishers and I had no idea what would become of me. (I suppose I still don’t but at least I have the book release to look forward to and it will definitely live in the world now – back then, it was completely unknown what would happen.) So I did a Vision Board and put images of things on a piece of poster board that I desired or wanted to happen, just as my friends and Martha Beck instructed me to do . WITHIN DAYS, things started materializing…it was wild! And within a month, I had a book deal for Epiphany with a major publisher (Random House) who wanted the book to be exactly the way I’d always envisioned it and for the exact advance I knew I had to get to make it happen.

Check this out: (Note: These are not great photos ahead, but I think they’re decent enough that you’ll be able to see what I’m saying. And I don’t know why my mock up Epiphany Book Cover is torn, but again, you’ll get the gist.)

This is what I typed/mocked up put up on my Vision Board last Sept.

And this is what the cover of the galley of my book looks like that is going out to press and to my contributors:

IT’S THE SAME FONT AND PRETTY MUCH THE EXACT SAME BLUE AND ORIGINAL TITLE.

THE LESSON LEARNED: Don’t be so impatient and such a worry-wart, silly grasshopper, things eventually come around. (And VISION BOARDS work!)

I’ve probably done about 3-4 Vision Boards throughout the past year and things always happen from them. I always recommend at least trying VISION BOARDS – even if it’s just to see what happens…Why not? Encourage the magical aspects of life – it makes it all that much more exciting and fun.

Here is another great post Elise shared about vision boards a few days ago.

Here is Elise’s TED talk. Talk about inspiration!

About Elise Ballard

Elise Ballard is the author of Epiphany! a book of inspirational stories, aha moments and exclusive interviews from Random House Publishing.

Follow Elise on Twitter

Follow Elise on Facebook.

Buy the book Epiphany! by Elise Ballard.

How To, Inspiration

15 Rules To Live By. Debut Post on MindBodyGreen.

April 15, 2012
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I am thrilled to now be a regular contributor to MindBodyGreen.

My first post went up yesterday which was titled 15 Rules To Live By.

My friend Karen Salmansohn made me this poster to go with the article.

Click here to read the full post on MindBodyGreen and as always, feel free to comment.

Each post will delve into one of my 15 rules.

1. Be Kind.
2. Have a sense of humor especially when it comes to YOU.
3. Write poems, even if only in your head.
4. Sing out loud, even if badly.
5. Dance, even with no rhythm.
6. If you don’t have anything nice to say… you know the deal.
7. Find things to be in awe of.
8. Be grateful for what you have right now.
9. Watch Modern Family, read Wayne Dyer, and end every complaint with “But I’m so blessed!”
10. Duh, do yoga.
11. Don’t worry. Everyone on Facebook seems like they have happier and funner lives. They don’t.
12. Tell someone you love that you love them. Right now.
13.Take more pictures.
14. Forgive yourself for not being perfect. No such thing.
15. Thank the Universe in advance.
Inspiration

I’m Going To Oprah!

April 2, 2012
With my book agent. The best agent in the WORLD. Margaret O'Connor!

Love you Mags.

It’s happening.

Just a quick post to follow up yesterday’s. I AM going to Oprah’s lifeclass today at Radio City Music Hall.

I got invited by the Harpo people! They are making it happen for me!

I will blog from the plane tonight to share what I learned. (My LA folks, get ready for a supercharged week of inspiration. I am bubbling over with it!)

Yesterday’s workshop at PURE Yoga West was the perfect ending to my “East Coast Tour”.

I led 4 workshops in 1 week! What??? 

1 in LA, 1 in Philly and 2 in NYC.

And…..It was magnificent!

Yesterday was packed and sweaty and full of tears and laughter and dancing and inspiration.

It cracked my heart wide open.

Thank you New York.

 

My student flew all the way from Chicago to take my workshops in NYC. Thank you Kristina Soder! (Stay tuned because she is opening a yoga studio in Chicago!)

 

With my book agent. The best agent in the WORLD. Margaret O'Connor!
Love you Mags. (we look like sisters a little.)

 

With the incredible Mamaste! aka Sharon Pingitore.
Get to know this lady!

Inspiration, manifesting

PMM: Pinch Me Moments.

April 1, 2012
Skye and Serena Dyer (Wayne Dyer's daughters) wearing their Manifestation Man-festing bracelets.

I’m writing to you from the Upper East Side. As in New York City.

It’s so good to be back here. I feel more alive. I am awake. Really awake.

Thursday night, as I was teaching in SoHo at Yoga Vida, there was this moment when I caught my reflection in the windows facing Broadway. The buildings across the street and all the sweaty bodies reflected behind me in the reflection, and I thought This is where I am meant to be. I’m home.

I feel very much at home and comfortable on the East Coast.

Those that know me in person know that I am a bit of an anomaly in California.

So, I am here and loving it.

I taught my life affirming Manifestation Workshops in Philadelphia at Dhyana Yoga, my home studio there, and now in NYC at Yoga Vida in Soho and PURE Yoga West on the Upper West Side.

(By life affirming I mean we: sing, dance, journal, laugh, cry, play, go upside down, do partner work, write letters to our younger selves, twist, sweat and create new ideas of who we are. That kind of life affirming.)

I’ve never done this before but last night, as I sat at dinner with Wayne Dyer’s 4 ridiculously amazing and talented daughters, Eric Handler whose baby is Positively Positive and Oprah people, I pinched myself.

I reached under the table and pinched myself.

It hurt.

(I was just checking.)

Here I am in cities that are not where I live, selling out workshops. People are showing up in droves because they have read my words. That is my dream. Holy guacamole! They have read my words and have been so moved or affected that they came to my workshop which cost money. The green kind.

Here I am in the Village having a 5 hour lunch with my muse, the superstar and best selling author Karen Salmansohn, who also writes for Oprah. Telling her I would love to write for Oprah as well. (Wouldn’t you know just a few hours later I am at dinner with Oprah people and they are saying ” You should write for Oprah.com.”) Karen and I couldn’t part ways. Soul sisters is an understatement.

Here I am at a trendy Thai place in the Meat packing District of Manhattan having dinner with these folks and laughing my Pad Thai stuffed face off.

Three years ago I was asking: Egg whites or whole egg?. Chips or salad? More coffee?

Three years ago I was depressed and still did not have my hearing aid so I was half deaf and depressed. Ugh.

I had one of those moments last night where I simply stopped and acknowledged myself.

How often do you do that?

Like really, really acknowledge? Like the kind where you get goosebumps acknowledging?

Like when you get clear on what you have done and the goosebumps come.

Like when you get clear on who you are and the goosebumps come.

Like when you get clear on what you have overcome or broke through and the goosebumps come and never go away.

How often do we stop and acknowledge?

And, as my dear friend Frank Gjata always says: Acknowledge is Power.

(One of my favorite temporary tattoos of his from Conscious Ink.)

Lats night I looked at everyone at the table wearing my blue band. Yes, the misprinted ones that say Man-fest instead of Manifest. I sat across from the top producer at HARPO Studios wearing my blue bracelet as she ate her shrimp.

Skye and Serena Dyer (Wayne Dyer's daughters) wearing their Manifestation Man-festing bracelets.

It was such a chuckle moment.

I love chuckle moments.

When I realize how life works and how sometimes it is just so comical. How easeful. How’s it’s like one big ride.

When they all started toasting me last night I had to laugh at the hilarity of it. Toasting me, Jennifer Pastiloff, for making last night happen, for bringing everyone together.

(Funny because that is what I think of myself as: The Connector. Not the Yoga teacher, but the Connector.)

I have Wayne Dyer, Oprah and Positively Positive all on my vision board next to NYC. I have a picture of Oprah and under it says “Oprah’s Favorite Things” where I taped the words “Manifestation Retreats.”

Hee hee.

So yea, Oprah may not be at my next retreat just yet or saying that it is her favorite thing, but hot damn, her producers are having dinner with me, wearing my bracelets, asking me all about my blog. I’d say it was kind of a chuckle pinch me moment.

A CPMM: Chuckle Pinch Me Moment.

I may change my flight and stay for Oprah’s life class on Monday. My flight is out of Philly so I can be back for my early Equinox class Tuesday morning.

Last night I started to fret. I cannot miss another class. Bla. Bla. I have to get back. Bla bla.

I cannot recall the exact fretting. But it was something along those lines.

Then I thought: Wait a minute, Jennifer Pastiloff, just you wait a minute.

This is your dream, you nincompoop.

You would say no?

What am I afraid of?

Why would I say no?

Here it is. I am going to divulge the fear.

When I am happy I fear that it will be taken away, that I will wake up and be back to working at the Newsroom so I can say ” See, nothing good lasts.”

Eww, pop psychology is so cheesy and predictable.

I refuse to be cheesy and predictable.

My Equinox class will still be there for me if I miss one more to see Oprah.

I deserve to have my dreams come true.

There. I just said that.

Can you say that?

Join me please so I don’t feel like I am alone in a cab on the Avenue of Dreams all by my lonesome.

And guys? Bliss goes with everything.

Wear it all the time.

Serena Dyer, Harriet Seitler (executive VP for Harpo, as in Oprah, studios), and Eric Handler of Positively Positive all wear their Manifestation bracelets. Bam!

Serena tweeting. Follow her at @serenadyer
She is co-writing a book with her dad Wayne Dyer which I cannot wait for!

My most favorite tweet ever came last night from Serena Dyer.

Now, as you know, Wayne Dyer, her father, is my beloved teacher. She tweeted this:

Serena Dyer ‏ @serenadyer

The Dyer’s have adopted an honorary sister @ManifestYogaJen, just call her Sennifer :)

Guest Posts, Inspiration

Serena Dyer: Part 2. Meeting Oprah. (Can I be Next?)

March 22, 2012
ychyl

Meeting Oprah! via Hay House

One super special wish fulfilled.

Serena DyerOprah Winfrey and Serena Dyer

by SERENA DYER

Learning from the one who sees good in all.

MEETING THE MOST INFLUENTIAL WOMAN of the 20th century has been a dream of mine since I first started watching her show in my early teens. This past February, as I pulled up to Oprah Winfrey’s home on Maui so she could film a show with my dad, I realized I was about to have one of my long term “wishes fulfilled.”

I love Oprah because she is the whole package: she looks for the good in everyone she meets; she has used The Oprah Winfrey Show to teach the world about spirituality; she has earned incredible wealth and genuinely enjoys sharing it and giving it all away; but most of all, just by being herself and allowing her true magnificence to shine, she has become a beacon of light for all of humanity. Oprah Winfrey lives her dharma and in doing so, she allows her true nature to shine. What a joy it is to watch and learn from someone who loves doing what they do!

One of the biggest lessons I have learned from Oprah Winfrey is that of setting your intentions, becoming what it is you want to attract (not just asking for it), and then most important, letting go.

I have learned from both my dad, Dr. Wayne Dyer, and Oprah that you don’t get what you want, you get what you are. I decided to apply this philosophy to my life and to become a person who is focused on serving others and not so focused on what’s in it for me. It was really challenging for me to blindly trust that things would work out, that money I needed would show up at the right time, and that I didn’t have to strive to arrive. There were times when I felt that I wanted to be like the rest of my friends and make a set salary, to have a position in a company that told me what to do and paid me for it. At the same time, though, I knew those things weren’t me so I decided to simply trust that if I served others, I wouldn’t be left behind. I started my own foundation www.not-for-sale.org that focuses on raising awareness about child trafficking in the United States. I became a Guardian-ad-litem, which is a volunteer advocate for abused or neglected children, and I spent a year working for free to raise money for a documentary film whose cause I believe in.

I always knew I wanted to work for myself, but I was so afraid that I would fail or that I wouldn’t be able to get anything done if left to myself that I held myself back. However, when I started to focus on other people and how I could help them, I realized that the universe was clamoring to help me achieve what it was that I wanted to do. Having this knowing that things really do work out, that I can truly just let go and be at peace and everything will handle itself is a really freeing lesson to learn.  I used to feel so stuck in my career and my life, and I had this belief that I had to push and push to get everything done. Now, I have learned to set my intention, become what it is that I want to attract and then let go. In the past, when I had something that I wanted to attract in my life, I would call everyone I know and talk about it. I would listen to their opinions on it and then start to doubt it or feel unworthy of it. Now, when I have something I would like to attract in my life, I offer myself up to the universe to become it for others first, and I don’t talk about it with other people. When I am lacking peace in my life, I don’t ask God to please send me some peace. I ask God to please “make me an instrument of thy peace.” When I wanted a loving relationship, I asked God to please teach me how to first truly love myself so that I could then offer that love to someone else. Then, I assumed how it felt to really love myself, to really feel deeply loved by someone else and I concentrated on that feeling.

In 2008, I decided to make a vision board so that I could have a visual reminder of the type of person I had set my intentions on being. I wasn’t sure what type of career I wanted so instead of putting a specific job on the vision board I put words that represented feelings I would have if I was doing my dream job. I also put on my vision board words representing the man I would like to attract into my life rather than images of a really hot guy. I also cut out photos of other people doing activities I wanted to do, like meeting children in Africa, driving an old car down the coast of Italy and going wine tasting in an exotic location. I actually glued my face over the other people’s faces so I could see myself doing these things and not just imagine them! I cut out images of a big yacht, a silver Mercedes, some nice jewelry, and I put the word “travel” all over that thing just in case the universe was being extra generous!

I also put on my vision board images of Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres with myself right next to them and can you believe it? I had the opportunity to meet Ellen in 2009 and this past February, as Oprah put her arms around me and gave me a big hug, I was experiencing one of my long term wishes being fulfilled!

Pretty much everything on my vision board has come true. I went wine tasting in Sonoma this past September. I drove in a vintage Aston Martin in Sardinia in 2010 and that big yacht and silver Mercedes? Well, it turns out that my dream man has both of those, and we just celebrated our 3 year anniversary together. My career is heading in a direction I feel proud of and I have had the opportunity to take so many trips in the past 4 years that my friends jokingly call me “the world traveler.” So many of the material things and experiences I desired happened to show up in my life in ways that I can’t even explain or make sense of, but the truth is, that isn’t even the coolest part.

The really neat thing for me is that these material things are not the best part of this experience. The best part has been really learning to become like Oprah. I find myself wanting to share everything I get, wanting to look for the good in everyone, and most important, more than anything else I want to serve others in the way that Oprah has so graciously demonstrated for me. Learning to serve others without asking “what’s in it for me” has given me a sense of peace and purpose that feels better than any jewelry or vacation ever could!

I believe that I learned how to align myself with the power of intention by offering to others what it was that I was seeking. In doing so, I became what it was that I wanted to attract. Then, as I learned from Ms. Oprah, I let go and I let God.

~~~~~

(This was published today via Heal Your Life through Hay House and since I published my Serena article last night it seems we are on the same wavelength so I thought I would share this inspiration!)

Serena Dyer is a student and human rights activist whose mission is to eradicate child trafficking through advocacy, education and research for the Stop Child Trafficking Coalition. Serena is currently co-writing a book with her dad, renowned author and speaker Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. The book, Don’t Die with Your Music Still In You is scheduled to release in Summer 2013.

 ~~~~~~~~~~
Note from Jen: I am manifesting meeting Oprah by this summer! Stay tuned……
Jennifer Pastiloff will be teaching at the Tadasana International Yoga & Music Festival over Earth Day weekend on the beach in Santa Monica, CA, April 20– 22. Click here to check out the festival website and purchase tickets. Enter the code Pastiloff for a $50 discount! (Please note that discount codes expire April 1).
Guest Posts, Q & A Series

Best Selling Author & Oprah Columnist Karen Salmansohn: The Manifestation Q&A Series.

December 24, 2011
POSTER-MIRACLE -YOU

Dear Manifesters, I am so honored to bring Karen Salmansohn, one of my greatest inspirations and muses to the Manifestation Q&A. I am 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.

By now, you have all seen Karen’s posters (NotSalmon) on my blog or my Facebook page. As is Christy Turington, our last guest, and myself, Karen is also a contributor for the incredible Positively Positive website. i decided a few months ago to surround myself with people who inspire me and make me want to write more, dance more, sing more and love more. Her posters and words make me feel good. They make me want to get up on my desk and do a little jig. Sometimes I do just that. 

Karen has a generous spirit and a ” I-don’t-take-myself-too-seriously” attitude which I admire. That is one of my favorite qualities in a person, to be sure. Her joy and humore shines through in all her posters and her books. 

I am also in love with her story. She was very high up in the advertising world and left it all to follow her bliss. Truly, a woman after my own heart.

Please read the following post and fall in love with my friend Karen Salmansohn. It is impossible not to. She is simply irresistible. Yea, like the song.

I have also included links to her books because you will want one.

You’ll see.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What are you the most proud to have manifested in your life?

Karen Salmansohn: I am most proud of my now 16 month old son – my miracle child – as I’m a late in life mom. My son is the kindest and happiest child – always smiling. Already at 16 months, it’s obvious he’s a milk bottle “half full” kinda guy! :) Truly. Someone in my building came up to me the other day and said, “Your son is doing the building a public service. He’s always smiling that big happy smile – and waving hello to everyone – making everyone who sees him so very happy. He always makes my day.” My son truly has the most beautiful spirit. 

And I also have great appreciation for being able to do my passion of writing and designing books and posters which help empower people to live their most fulfilling lives – my brand of what I call “self help for people who wouldn’t be caught dead doing self help.”

Jennifer Pastiloff:  What are your favorite top 5 NotSalmon posters?(include pics.)

Karen Salmansohn: These 5…

Jennifer Pastiloff: What is the greatest lesson have you learned from your son?

Karen Salmansohn: I’ve become aware of how closely linked curiosity and happiness are. My son is always so curious about everything he sees, hears, tastes, touches – and this curiosity keeps him in a constant state of delight and appreciation.

I’ve been reminded how the best way to stop negative thinking is not merely by stopping it. You also have to swap it. You have to do what I call a “stop and swap.” What I mean by this: If my son is crying over something – like how I won’t let him play with my laptop – I can’t simply tell my son, “No you can’t play with mommy’s laptop.” I have to offer him something new to play with – so he can refocus his mind away from the laptop. Without swapping in something new, my son will naturally keep returning to his negative thoughts about how he’s upset he can’t play with my laptop. But as soon as I give my son a fun toy to play with, his mind is refocused and not thinking about my laptop at all. Ditto with us adults. If we’re stuck in a negative mindset – thinking about regrets, worries, fears, resentments – it’s not enough just to tell ourselves we have to stop these negative thoughts. If we don’t have something new to think about in replacement, we will keep going back to them. Hence we have to swap these negative thoughts for positive ones. We adults also have to do a stop and swap – and trade in our negative thoughts for a positive thoughts to latch onto. This is one of the many reasons why I’m a big believer in writing gratitude lists. When you’re having a negative thought, you can stop it and swap it for something you’ve written on your gratitude list – and immediately refocus your attentions onto something which will make you feel happier.

Jennifer Pastiloff: How was NotSalmon born? I believe I read that you came from an advertising background. I am inspired daily by you, and so are all my readers, and we would love to know how you manifested this dream into what it is today?

Karen Salmansohn: Yes, I used to be in advertising – but I always wanted to be a writer. I was a senior VP and creative director at the age of 27 – and I won a CLIO my first year in the business. I worked with the big guy agencies like J. Walter Thompson, Young and Rubicam and McCann-Erickson. I kept threatening to quit to write books, and my parents would say, “How can you quit now – when you’re doing so well?” But the truth is, if I were doing lousy, I probably would have stayed to prove something to myself. But I figured if I could do well at something I didn’t like so much, I’d do far better at something I was passionate about – and I was passionate about books. And so I quit and didn’t tell my parents for a few weeks. I just didn’t want them to keep talking me out of quitting. I developed what I call “Mr Magoo Vision.” You remember how the near blind Mr Magoo cartoon character never noticed all the cars honking as he crossed the street? He focused on MUST GET TO OTHER SIDE OF STREET. That was me when I left advertising. I stayed focused on MUST GET PUBLISHED and tried not to notice all the honking naysayers. To keep my intentions strong, every time I passed a book store I’d head to the shelf where all the authors who’s last names began with “S” were. I envisioned my book on the shelf next to them. I was excited to see I’d be in good company. My last name in Salmansohn. I’d be a neighbor to Salinger. My first published book was a novel – which I sold to St. Martin’s Press to be book – and then got optioned by Miramax to be a movie starring Marissa Tomei. I wrote the screenplay – but alas it was never greenlit to be filmed. But you never know… :)

Jennifer Pastiloff: What are you most inspired by? Where does the daily source of inspiration for your posters come from?

Karen Salmansohn: A lot of what I write is inspired from my own life – the challenges I’m dealing with – and trying to gain insight about. I love writing. I’ve been writing in journals since I was 12 years old – and for me writing has always been cathartic and therapeutic. For me a journal is like a Ouija board. I sit down in front of it with no clues as to what I’m going to be writing, then start writing, until then suddenly I realize, “Ohhhhh, so that’s what I’m thinking.” Basically, I not only write about what I know – I write about what I didn’t know that I knew until I started to write! I’m joking – but I’m serious.

As far as my posters, I started to design them each morning after my son was born, because I no longer had the time and concentration to write pages of concentrated thoughts with a baby in the house. I now had diaper changes and Mickey Mouse Hot Diggety Dog dances to do. I found it was easier to start designing a poster – be interrupted by my little dude – then return to finish this poster – than it was to start/stop/start/stop writing cohesive paragraphs of thought. And so I started to create these posters in replacement for my morning writings.

 When I’m designing my posters, I usually have Sesame Street or Mickey Mouse playing on the TV in the background as I work. Sometimes I wonder if the playful creativity and music from these terrific shows is somehow contributing to my creative process. I also take breaks in designing a morning poster to play with my son – and perhaps this loosens up my creative thinking.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What do you do when you feel stuck?

Karen Salmansohn: I meet a friend. I read a book. I see a movie. I drink too much coffee. I look at videos on youtube. I go for a walk. I dance with my son to all kinds of music. I drink too much coffee. I play on Facebook. I re-organize my closets. I drink too much coffee.

Jennifer Pastiloff: What are you up to now? Is there another book on the way? Where can we find more of Not Salmon?

Karen Salmansohn: I love writing and designing books – and am excited to have a new one coming out next year called INSTANT HAPPY – published by the same pub house as my best selling HOW TO BE HAPPY DAMMIT. The mission for this book is to create an instant peptalk for people dealing with challenging times – in the same way my BOUNCE BACK BOOK offered support.

I’m also psyched to now be offering new ebooks on my site — like my newly released BUSINESS LESSONS OF A SWIMMING COCKTAIL WAITRESS and PRINCE HARMING SYNDROME. Plus I’m excited about my new shop at my site – which offers a line of goods which inspire people to feel and do good – like inspiring, tees, totes, clocks, coffee mugs, etc. (I’m drinking coffee out of my NICE GUYS ARE THE SEXIEST coffee mug right now!) Plus, my website presently offers all kinds of FREEBIE screensavers and ecards – which I’ll be continuing to be updating.

 Basically, I invite everyone to come visit my site notsalmon.com to find more stuff – and find out more about my stuff. :)

Jennifer Pastiloff: My favorite things in a person are a sense of humor and gratitude. You possess both, obviously. If you could say thank you right now, who would it be to?

Karen Salmansohn: Well, first – love to thank you for all your kind comments – and inviting me to come play with you and be on your wonderful site! I think you’re terrific – and am thankful that the wacky world of social media connected us.Next up, I’d thank coffee – for making finding time to do everything I need to do in a day possible. Next up I’d thank my wonderful and supportive partner Howard – my human caffeine. :)

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