Browsing Tag

stories

Guest Posts, writing, Young Voices

The Broken Container

December 13, 2016
container

By Raisa Imogen

Last year, I was in Paris during the terrorist attacks, and I don’t know how to tell that story. Similarly, I don’t know how to tell the story about Trump’s recent election. But there seems to be a strange and shivering thread between the two events. Both violent, painful, chaotic. Yet Paris was somewhat contained. This election is not, the common mantra being: “we just don’t know what’s going to happen.”

We tell stories to make meaning of trauma, to contain pain so we can better examine it and give it value. But sometimes we are in such distress that the container cracks. We can no longer write or speak in the same way, we can no longer contain the pain or carry it comfortably.

Paris: the cherry glow of sirens, the bitter cold, windows slamming shut, a vacant Eiffel tower. Alternatively: my friend who calmly held my hand, the family member who made a quiche, a café filled with people drinking champagne the next day.

Either it becomes a story of horror and fear, which you’ve already heard, or a story of healing and bravery, which feels mawkish and insincere.

I think we dislike narratives which exist in gray, uncertain space. We want them to have logic, to land on one side of a binary — tragedy or comedy, conflict resolved or broken open, a character whose biggest desire is fulfilled or wrenched from them completely. Climax, falling action, resolution.

But trauma, especially when it first occurs, isn’t a neat and tidy narrative. Sometimes there is no narrative at all.

The New Yorker recently featured a piece where sixteen writers weighed in on the election. As my friend Marie Scarles observed, “There are so many different versions of why Trump won, and so many ways for us to imagine the future. Should we pay more attention to poor whites? To Muslims? To women? To LGBTQ? To racists? To immigrants? All seem urgent, but none can be held as the be-all-end-all.”

We are searching for a straightforward answer, an immediate ending so this can be over and done with.

After the election, hunched over my carrel in the library and unable to write, I got a text message from my father: “Trauma turns us into animals, which means story-telling turns off. We revert to fight, flight or shock.” But sometimes, maybe our storytelling tendencies shutting down is a good thing. Maybe it allows us to survive. Narratives can be healing, but they can also be dangerous.

By attending to many different perspectives, perhaps a new story will eventually arise, something both nuanced and messy, something which contains many strands. Perhaps it will be a story of hope, but a particular kind of hope, which Rebecca Solnit describes as, ”an ax you break down doors with in an emergency… [it] should shove you out the door.”

For now, we are living in uncertainty. The story is that there is no story, at least no singular one. Which means there is no singular conflict, no one resolution. I wish I had a coherent story to tell about Paris, but I don’t. For me, the container is still broken open, as it is now for America post-election. This means we must listen to each other, and listen carefully.

raisa-tolchinsky

Raisa Imogen was born in Portland, Oregon, grew up in Chicago, and is currently studying at the University of Bologna in Italy. Her poetry can be found at www.raisaimogen.net and at The Kenyon Review.

 

Join Ally and Jen Pastiloff for an intimate online course about what it means to be a woman at this time. Space is very limited. Course runs Jan 12-Feb 9, 2017. Click the picture to sign up or to get more info on the course and its perks!

Join Ally and Jen Pastiloff for an intimate online course about what it means to be a woman at this time. Space is very limited. Course runs Jan 12-Feb 9, 2017. Click the picture to sign up or to get more info on the course and its perks!

 

 

Join The Manifestation Retreat: Manifesting Under The Tuscan Sun. June 17-24 OR Sep 9-16. Email retreats@jenniferpastiloff.com or click the picture above.

Join The Manifestation Retreat: Manifesting Under The Tuscan Sun. June 17-24 OR Sep 9-16. Email retreats@jenniferpastiloff.com or click the picture above.

Family, Guest Posts

The Investigation

June 21, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Melissa Barker

“Mother, do you see these ‘tars’ up in the dark sky?”

“Yes, dear.”

“I think God is very kind to put little ‘tars’ in the dark sky for us to see.”

Ethel B., “The Mother’s Book”, February, 1912

 

August, 2000

The stars were obscured the night we put my Grandfather’s ashes into the ocean.  A scrim of cloud was pulled over the sky.  We made our way down the path choked with sea grass, pummeled by wind, hunched, three of his children now ragged in their own middle-age. His two youngest children were missing.  The twins, my father and his brother, their lives a pattern of twining and unwinding, had both fallen deep into the rabbit-hole of addiction as their father grew still, leaving their sister the burden of care.  Then my father and his twin fled overseas to put themselves back together.

The third generation was also present:  my cousins and I, a whole strand of us, a few spouses, and even a few children, the fourth generation.  There were fifteen of us in the third generation, all of us adolescents and young adults, the youngest nineteen, the oldest, if he were still alive, would be nearing forty.  Most of us showed up to try to dredge up some kind of uncomplicated emotion. Shouldn’t we have felt sad?  A few of my older cousins tried, lifting their heads up into the night, telling stories, but most of us couldn’t find anything to say.  The emotion was so complicated that it became dumbed down, numbed out, and when we lifted fists full of our Grandfather’s ashes and they swirled around us, unwilling to blow down to the ocean and dissipate, insisting on stinging our eyes and dusting our hair, I felt nothing.

He was mostly harmless to us, once removed.  By the time we knew him, he was bent over a cane, his bald head crusted with patches of keratosis that clung to his scalp like barnacles.  But even in this incarnation he possessed the ability to wield his full grown children this way and that, together, against one another, a grown-up version of playing dolls or putting children in a basement and forcing them to fight, the difference being, as adults, they could no longer feel the strings.  Now they moved under the illusion of their own volition.  By the time my Grandfather died, my father and my favorite aunt were no longer speaking to one another.  My father abandoned his whole family while his father was dying.  He disappeared into the ether of addiction and then he went across the world to put himself back together. This was part of the fall-out. Continue Reading…

Binders, Guest Posts, healing

What I Salvaged From The Fire

May 26, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Hollye Dexter

 

When our house burned down in 1994, all three levels burned to the ground. There was not a trace left of the sofa, the dining table, the piano. And yet, my husband, wearing thigh-high fishing boots, dug through piles of rubble four-feet deep and pulled out small blackened squares. They looked like charcoal briquets, but they turned out to be my childhood diaries. One of them used to have a Holly Hobbie cover and a little gold key attached.

I’ve kept a diary since I was in the second grade. This might have tipped me off that I was bound to become a writer. It was important to me then to document my comings and goings, important to me that someone knew I had woven straw placemats at my Campfire Girls meeting, or been chosen third for the kickball team at recess. Someone beside me had to know, and so it was my diary that became the witness to my life.

In addition to my diary, I’d taken to walking around town with a mini Hello Kitty notebook in the pocket of my plaid Dittos hip-huggers, in case I felt a sudden urge to write something down.

Continue Reading…

Compassion, Guest Posts, Inspiration

Grace Notes

April 20, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Melodye Shore

As I rounded the last corner on my morning walk, I stopped to admire a flowering pink azalea. Dainty pink blossoms fluttered on graceful stems, lifted like ballerinas on the morning breeze. Winter was being nudged back into hibernation, and spring was doing one last dress rehearsal before taking center stage.

But my reverie was cut short.

The air was filled with the unmistakable whine of chainsaws, and the frantic chattering of displaced birds.

I raced toward my house, chased after the disembodied sounds until I found their source.

An army of gardeners surrounded the pepper trees in my neighbor’s yard, right behind my own. They stood sentry along our common fence, weapons raised, until my neighbor called out to them in broken Spanish. Chainsaws bit into bark–a steady, grinding noise–as one after another, amputated trees limbs crashed to the ground at the workmen’s feet.

My heart sank. Planted in the wrong spot, Brazilian pepper trees can be a bit unruly. Without pruning, they grow impossibly tall and unruly. They litter the ground with seedpods, and their gnarled trunks shed bark. They’re not indigenous to our area, and it shows. Even so, I love them. They provide shade during the hottest part of summer, and they offer sanctuary to the countless birds that, moments earlier, had taken to the sky, voicing their displeasure.

Hummingbirds patrolled the wooden fence, wings whirring as they dive-bombed the intruders. Mockingbirds hovered above emptied nests, and house finches fought in vain to protect their hatchlings. Homeless now, a pair of orioles took wing, a blur of sunshine that disappeared when they vanished.

I stared at a bald patch of sky, where leafy branches used to be, and I was overcome by a naked sense of vulnerability.  My heart ached for the birds—their sanctuary was being destroyed! But when the hacked-off branches teetered on the fence, and then collapsed into my yard like fallen corpses, my fingers tightened around my phone.

Now what? I asked myself. My neighbor and I were strangers— the fence, the trees that divided our properties also separated us from one another. I wouldn’t recognize his face, were I to bump into him at our local market, and I didn’t have his phone number.

So I called my sister, who lives 1000 miles away. “He’s killing them,” I sobbed.

“Wha–” The panic in her voice was palpable. But as I related the situation, blubbered on and on about dismembered trees and murderous gardeners, the urgency in her voice dissolved into relieved laughter, followed by sighs of relief.

“What can you do?” she said. “His property, his trees…I’m sorry, but I don’t know what I can do to make you feel better.”

So I called my husband. “You should see this!” I wailed. My eyes were blurred by tears, but I tried valiantly to describe for him the massacre as it continued to unfold.

Awkward silence.

“I wish I could help you,” he eventually said, “but by the time I get home from work, the damage will already be done.”

We ended our conversation, and in that hollow space between knowing and not believing the situation in which I found myself, I heard a still, small voice. It called me out of my panic, whispered the answer I needed to hear.

Share your concerns with the right person, it said. Speak up, while you still can. Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, LBGQ, storytelling

The Fight

January 22, 2015

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black

By Devi Lockwood.

She delivers the punch, smooth and crisp, to the flesh below his jaw. Her knuckles collide with his cheekbone and the crowd gathered under the university pavilion looks on, silent.

He comes at her with both fists flailing, windmills of rage. With one duck and swerve, she comes out unscathed.

Before either party can deliver a return punch, their friends intervene, pulling them back. Each struggles at their friend’s grip, squinting in wrath.

“Stop! Enough! Not like this!”

The girl they are fighting over sits on a bench with her head between her hands, covering her ears.

~

I wasn’t expecting to see lesbian drama in my first week in Fiji (or at all, for that matter), but there it was, like the ocean, waiting––unconcerned with my existence and yet completely immersive. A pull.

I made friends at the university by accident. Walking down Grantham Rd, I was tugged into a several-block long conversation with a group of two guys walking to class.

“Do you want to see campus?” one asked, readjusting the weight of his backpack on his shoulder. I shrugged. Why not? I had nowhere else better to be. The only thing driving me through the day was my desire to collect stories.

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

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

Continue Reading…

Books, Guest Posts, writing

Scheherazade’s Call.

December 26, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black1-300x88By Laraine Herring.

The Velveteen Rabbit was one of those magic stories that saved my life. I remember the line drawings of the Bunny all alone on the hill, splashes of muted pastel colors behind him. The Bunny was so loved by the Boy that his fur was rubbed away and he was no longer new and pretty, but it didn’t matter because the Boy loved him. But then the Boy got sick and he was taken away and the Bunny was left alone.

This was the part of the story that began to take root inside of me. My dad contracted polio in the 1940s when he was the same age as the Boy, and even though the diseases were different, the story helped awaken empathy in me for the experiences of another. How scared my dad must have been to have suddenly found himself so sick! What treasured toys of his were taken away? I empathized with both the Boy and the Bunny, and I wanted more than anything for the Bunny to become real—to become loved alive—and if that could happen, maybe—even though my father’s right leg was shorter than his left leg, and even though his gaze often rested on distant things I couldn’t see—I could love my dad back alive too.

That 1922 edition of Margery Williams’ The Velveteen Rabbit was my version of the book. My rabbit. My boy. My playroom and wise old Skin Horse. William Nicholson’s illustrations helped make it mine. When later editions hit the shelves, the new illustrations (lovely though they were) were jarring. That’s not my bunny! That’s not my story.

This seems ludicrous on the surface, but talk to a fan of a book when the movie comes out and you’ll get a step-by-step guide of what didn’t match up and how the actors didn’t fit the images the reader had put in her head. Readers claim ownership of the fictional worlds they inhabit, and rightfully so—they helped to create those worlds using the signposts the author provided through text. The reader’s experience with the story is so intimate and so real that it comes as a shock when another reader has a different relationship with the same story. No one can enter the web of words the same way, and no one comes out the other side unchanged either.

Why do books matter? Why do fiction writers matter? Why is fiction reading still relevant? The world changes, evolves, and by necessity leaves behind what no longer fits. The thing is, stories always fit. They take us by the hand and pull us into worlds we didn’t know existed—not the world of the writer, but the world that was within us. Our hidden interior world, on the trigger of a turn of phrase, can expand into new ways of being in and relating to the world. Our experiences with characters and adventures on the page make us move in surprising ways. They give us a window into a way of life we’d never know or a belief system that challenges us and stretches our capacity to care. The author might have been writing five hundred years ago or just yesterday. It doesn’t matter. The readers are the wild card. Each reader co-creates her own story and makes it personally relevant and then engages with the world from that new, changed place.

Our lives are very different from when that first edition of The Velveteen Rabbit captured hearts. Much of what fuels our economy is not a physical product that we can ship and store. Our productivity is intellectual. It’s artistic. It’s creative. And it doesn’t always sit on a shelf. It isn’t warehoused and it isn’t collecting dust. This is an economy of ideas and of inventions based not on a combustible engine, but rather a combustible spirit. As Seth Godin tells us in The Icarus Deception, this is the time of the creatives, the artists, the dreamers and imaginers. This is the time for magic. But it’s hard to put magic in a spreadsheet. It’s hard to make a pie chart or a PowerPoint slide about its benefits. But make no mistake. Our modern age runs on magic. It runs on someone alone in a room with an idea to make the world a little bit better. Innovation and invention start with imagination—the world of fiction.

Who would have thought we’d go to the moon, or store our documents in a cloud, or type a manuscript from across the room from the computer? Who would have thought, until someone did, and then what had once been purely fiction became the norm. Then the standard. But before it became the standard, it was inconceivable. It was impossible and then someone dreamed it. Someone shook the fairy dust and came up with an electric car, solar power, Apple computers, airplanes and stories. Continue Reading…

courage, Guest Posts, World Events

On Imagination: The Power of “Pathetic” Responses.

November 16, 2014

By Ebele Mogo. 

Narrative is a very feeble weapon in the face of human darkness and yet it’s all we have – Chris Abani

It seems this year has been a year of uprisings everywhere. A world spinning out of control and crying out to not be ignored. From the developments in Ferguson in response to the yet improperly addressed problem of police brutality in the States, to Ebola in West Africa, to abductions of school girls, to Syria, Iraq, to two disappearing planes etc. It is enough for a melodramatic movie.My old schoolmate and friend said it well on twitter:100 day abduction, MH17, MH370, Ukraine, Gaza, Iraq, Syria, Central African Rep, Sudan, Libya, Egypt. The world is rotating anti-clockwise

— Ogbeni Agbabiaka (@ArroYomi) July 22, 2014

Recently a friend and colleague contacted me to co-create a response plan to Ebola here: http://www.engageafricafoundation.org/blog/view/ebola-in-africa-what-are-we-learning

It was a very little response that did take a lot of work from both of us yet nothing compared to the magnitude of the problem. A little creative offering you may that if used would help greatly with containment. Of course we cannot control if it is used but we can reach out to offer it in the hopes that it will be and make it simple enough to be adopted.

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, healing, storytelling

People You May Know.

October 12, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-black By Teri Carter.

I carry a myth. In the myth, I am 36 years old, and I meet my father at my mother’s funeral. Or, rather, at her wake. It is the designated family hour from three until four p.m., the one quiet span when only close family gathers to see the dead. The viewing, they call it. My mother in her casket, the casket she chose. And there is my father, a bearded stranger, pacing between rows of metal folding chairs, viewing her.

I actually met my father around my 18th birthday. His mother lived in my town, and though I’d had little to no contact with her over the years, she’d sent me a card with money in it for my high school graduation and, in lieu of writing her a thank you note, I called. She was thrilled, she said, to hear from me, and I remember feeling her warmth through the phone, the idea of her grandmotherly embrace, and somewhere during that call she asked if I’d like to come for a visit to look at some family photos and I asked where my father was and I said it rather boldly like, “Do you know where Lee Roy is these days?” feeling all grown up at age 18 and out of high school, and she said he was living right there in town, “right up the road!” and would I like to meet him, maybe next Sunday, at her house?

But what happened then? What of the details? Did he arrive first or did I? Did we shake hands, hug, stand back, study? Did we share a meal, a laugh, a Coca Cola? How can I not recall? How does a girl not remember meeting her father, not remember hearing his voice, for the very first time? And yet, the edges, they are so watery.

I met my father at my mother’s funeral. We shook hands. He pulled a business card from his wallet and wrote his number on the back in blue, ballpoint ink. He said, “Call us next time you’re in town,” and as he walked away I wondered, who is us?

Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, healing, Inspiration

Emotional Body House.

October 7, 2014

beauty-hunting-jen-logo-blackBy Kate Berlin.

I’ve been working on opening up my heart.

Literally.

I’ve been sitting with eyes closed at random places -the break room at work, the bathroom, at red lights and stop signs in the car- and whispering to myself “my heart is open, my heart is open.”

But all that’s really there is a heavy lump in my throat, because my heart isn’t anywhere near being open. Lately, my heart has been closed.

*****

When I think of my past experiences and emotions I like to envision a house, with rooms, and common areas, and a garden.

If you’d ask me a few years ago what that house looked like. I would describe it with little consideration, as nothing more than a shack. An abandoned structure, inside dark and dingy with boards blocking any view from anyone on the outside wanting to take a glimpse in.   Mildew, standing water, dried, withered, and flaking paint, rats, and the reeking stench of loneliness. Dust collecting on the windowsills and the baseboards, in the walls a termite infestation, gnawing away at the structure of the house. Each room filled with boxes, piled on top of each other, on top of furniture draped in cloth. Furniture that once served a purpose, that was colorful and comfortable, that sustained a living and brightened the home. The garden left untended, was muddy and overgrown filled with empty pots and dead plants. Weeds took over where once grew a meadow. And wasps took the place of butterflies. Continue Reading…

Beauty Hunting, Guest Posts, Manifestation Retreats, Manifestation Workshops

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

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

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

By Jen Pastiloff.

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

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

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

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

And sometimes I do hide.

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

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

Continue Reading…

Awe & Wonder, Guest Posts

Rewriting My Ghost.

June 21, 2014

Rewriting My Ghost by David Breithaupt.

I have memories I wish I could rewrite the endings for while others have no conclusions at all. This past Memorial Day recalled for me a WW II vet I met in NYC during the mid 1980s. I was walking down 1st Avenue on the Upper Eastside with my friend Kitty, who was from Brooklyn and worked as a sign language interpreter. It was one of those fetid summer days in the city when anyone who could had already fled and the air was that kind of clammy smog you knew would give you some kind of cancer one day. We were about to traverse one of the cross streets when we noticed an old man who had fallen by the curb. He was stuttering and holding an arm up for help. As we approached, I noticed my fellow New Yorkers walking by him, vaguely annoyed by the obstacle that was slowing them down en route to their important missions. I stopped for a moment to take this in.

Kitty shook me out of my stupor when she bent over the man and asked in her loud (she was partially deaf) Brooklyn accent if he was all right. A wave of relief swept across his face as she and I hoisted and steadied him. The man had a cheap cane which had broken and lay in the street in pieces. He slurred and sputtered. Passerbys must have thought him a common drunk. I was however, fluent in drunkenese and recognized that his speech impediment had some other source. Most likely the man was a stroke victim.

“Where do you live?” Kitty asked while signing, partly out of habit and partly out of uncertainty of the man’s ability to hear. Again the man stuttered. He reached for his wallet and handed it to us. Kitty opened it and found a state ID with his current (we hoped) address. He lived not far away, one block down and one over. The name on his card identified him as Herman.

“We’ll take you there,” Kitty half shouted, still signing. Slowly, we walked him to his building, one painstaking step at a time. This was a memory that would whirl into my mind years later when my father suffered from emphysema and I would help him walk at an equally slow pace. Both times I can recall thinking, this will be me someday, if I live that long. Thirty-five minutes later we stood in front of his building.

“Keys?” Kitty asked. “We will walk you up. Do you have your keys with you?” The man pulled a chain out of his pocket from which dangled about a dozen keys. We tried each one to see which opened the front door. Of course it was the last one. Once in the vestibule, Herman pointed to his mail box. More good luck, he lived on the fifth floor. We fumbled with his keys again and let ourselves in.   We recommenced a slow journey, like climbers reaching the peak of Mt. Everest. I wondered how he coped with this on a daily basis.

We succeeded eventually, sweaty and slightly out of breath. I was already looking forward to drinking several large beers in the first available air-conditioned bar. Herman was almost home. Kitty found his door key after we had made some commotion in the hall, the noise of which attracted the neighbor across the way. A young man next door came out to see what was up.

“Hey Herman,” he said. We quickly explained the situation. The neighbor said he’d been keeping an eye out for Herman, that he was a WW II vet and lived alone. Herman had suffered a stroke eight months earlier which affected his speech and slightly impaired his walking ability. The neighbor said he was hoping to find a relative to help him but Herman seemed to be alone in the world.

The last key (again) let us in and we helped him to a bed in the center of a small room. He plopped down gratefully and looked at us expectantly. I walked around his room, flipping on light switches which didn’t seem to work. The only light was coming from his open door.

“His electricity gets cut off sometimes,” the neighbor informed us. “I’ll try to get him some candles,” he mentioned half-heartedly. Herman was still sitting, as if expecting some miracle, perhaps a wave of our hands which would make him twenty years old and erase the memories of his dead comrades. We didn’t have that kind of magic.

Kitty fluffed his pillow. “You just rest now, all right?”

Herman just wanted to sit. And look at us. Maybe he wanted us to adopt him. To give him the gift of electricity, cook him an omelet and watch a Mets game with him. Instead we backed out of his room while he watched us go. Slowly he raised a hand and waved goodbye. Kitty signed a farewell and told him to rest. “You take care Herman, get some rest!”

I watched him dissolve into darkness as we closed the door, his look more meaningful than any novel I’d ever read including the long Russian ones whose morals were sometimes elusive. What was going though his mind? What did his expression mean? He was taking us in like we were the last sight he’d ever see. Maybe we were. We closed the door with a final click and left him locked in darkness. We never saw him again.

I want to change the ending now. I want his lights to come on, to have one of his kids come to the rescue and take him home. I want to make myself march down to Con Ed and pay his damn electric bill. I want myself to stop in every now and then to make sure he was illuminated.

I didn’t.

Instead I took with me the legacy of his thousand mile stare through time and space which has haunted me for the last thirty-five years. I’m sorry Herman. We should have crafted you a better finale. We left you in the dark which is where we all end up but it wasn’t quite your time. I hope you found some peace. I hope you were reborn in the light. I hope you got a new cane and some candles. I hope you are OK wherever you are.

 My writing has appeared in The LA Review of Books, Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown and Exquisite Corpse. I lived in NYC for many years and worked for the Brazen Head Bookstore, NY Public Library, Rolling Stone and Allen Ginsberg. I currently live in Columbus, Ohio where I work for two newspapers which cover the Cincinnati Reds and OSU collegiate sports and live with my dog Shade.


My writing has appeared in The LA Review of Books, Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown and Exquisite Corpse. I lived in NYC for many years and worked for the Brazen Head Bookstore, NY Public Library, Rolling Stone and Allen Ginsberg. I currently live in Columbus, Ohio where I work for two newspapers which cover the Cincinnati Reds and OSU collegiate sports and live with my dog Shade.

 

Jennifer Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Salon, among others. Jen’s leading one of her signature yoga/writing retreats to Ojai, Calif over Labor Day in Ojai, Calif and she and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up:  SeattleLondon, Atlanta, South Dakota, NYC, Dallas. She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.

Next workshop is London July 6. Book here.

Daily Manifestation Challenge

Storytime! Friday’s Daily Manifestation Challenge.

October 21, 2011

Once upon a time……………

How many times a day do we make up stories in our heads, either about ourselves or the people around us or the world we live in? Even stories about our future, about events that have not even occurred yet?

I estimate that I do it at least 10 times a day. Maybe 20.

Hint: Don’t believe yourself. Listen to your story, but don’t believe it because it’s mostly fiction.

An Example:

Someone walks out of my class early and I tell myself a story that they hated me and/or my class.

Possible reason: They had a doctor appointment. They had gas. They had to pick up their child. They forgot to feed the meter. They needed to tweet. They had to go to work. They decided yoga sucks. Class was too easy/hard. They felt sick. They thought planking was a fad not a real yoga pose. They forgot to take their meds. They had a date. They were hungover or wanted to develop a hangover. They had to be on set ( ok, I live in Los Angeles.) They had to get down to the unemployment office. They had to go fire someone. They are Brad Pitt and their 6 children were calling.

Even if the “story” I make up is true, which I doubt, but even if so… so what??

Drumroll please…. It’s not personal anyway!

So today I have decided to not make up any stories in my head about what I assume.

I have decided to no longer make up stories about my future based on fear or based upon my past.

Can you stop telling stories such as: you won’t find a husband because you are 41, you are a bad writer and won’t ever finish your book, you are fat, you are broke, you are ugly, no one loves you. I can go on.

I won’t go on.

You get it.

So today, my Manifestation Challenge® is this:

Get through the day without making up something about yourself that simply is not true. What story can you stop telling today? Please share in the comments below.

It’s StoryTime Kids!

Here’s a little poem I wrote for this Challenge called “Your Story”.

(This is an edit from an earlier post which felt relevant for a Daily Manifestation Challenge.)

Uncategorized

The Stories We Tell

September 8, 2011

How many times a day do we make up stories in our heads, either about ourselves or the people around us or the world we live in? Even stories about our future, about events that have not even occurred yet?

I estimate that I do it at least 10 times a day. Maybe 20.

Hint: Don’t believe yourself. Listen to your story, but don’t believe it because it’s mostly fiction.

An Example:

Someone walks out of my class early and I tell myself a story that they hated me and/or my class.

Possible reason: They had a doctor appointment. They had gas. They had to pick up their child. They forgot to feed the meter. They needed to tweet. They had to go to work. They decided yoga sucks. Class was too easy/hard. They felt sick. They thought planking was a fad not a real yoga pose. They forgot to take their meds. They had a date. They were hungover or wanted to develop a hangover. They had to be on set ( ok, I live in Los Angeles.) They had to get down to the unemployment office. They had to go fire someone. They are Brad Pitt and their 6 children were calling.

A Mark Hobley watercolor.

Even if the “story” I make up is true, which I doubt, but even if so… so what??

Drumroll please…. It’s not personal anyway!

So today I have decided to not make up any stories in my head about what I assume something or someone means about me.

I have decided to no longer make up stories about my future based on fear or my past.

My good friend Eleanor Roosevelt said to me once over a good glass of Cabernet….

“Jen, You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”

Eleanor sharing her sage advice with Jen Pastiloff over some vino

Then she taught me how to go from crow pose to handstand.

Okay, she didn’t really tell me personally, but that is indeed a fun story! Tell more of these stories and less of the others!

So today, my Manifestation Challenge® is this:

Get through the day without making up something about yourself that simply is not true. What story can you stop telling today? Please share and let me know how the Challenge is going for you.