Note from Jen Pastiloff:
Katharine Coldiron attended the retreat I just led with Lidia Yuknavitch, my beloved sister, teacher, and friend. Writing & The Body. It was the second one Lidia and I did in 2015 in Ojai, California, and we are planning another in 2016 for April 8-10th. Must email email@example.com asap as this retreat sells out FAST. Stay tuned here for future workshops and retreats. You can sign up for classes with Lidia here.
By Katharine Coldiron
We need a new word for “roar”. There needs to be a special verb for how Jennifer Pastiloff sounds when she’s teaching, when she’s commanding us (like a petite, beautiful Patton) to be enough, to be a human thank-you, to be love. To say yes. She shouts, but she’s not angry; she screams, but she’s not hysterical. She roars, but for me that verb has connotations of red-faced men with berating baritones. Jen roars like a woman. Like a lioness: the fiercest mothersisterdaughterlover to be found in any jungle.
All weekend I listen and obey. I am enough. Vinyasa. I am a human thank-you. Warrior II. I am love. Crescent lunge. Open your arms, shine your heart out into the green valley. Vinyasa, downward-facing dog, child’s pose. I say yes.
I don’t cry when I tell a story I’ve never told anyone, a story from the dead swamps of middle school when I did a shitty, shitty thing. I don’t cry when I explain about the year that I slowly starved, or the bizarre food-hoarding that followed once I was on my feet. I don’t cry when I talk about the thing that happened in 2004 that wrecked my capacity to form friendships with women for the next, oh, eleven years. It’s not a pride thing. I just don’t cry for my stories this time.
On Sunday I grin wide in Warrior II with a face full of my own rain. The room echoes with hitches and heaves and sobs and boohoos, and it’s all so gorgeous, this breaking down and letting go that’s occurring all around me. I came here stable and happy, unsure about some interior things but not quite needing to manifest transformation. I’m 33 and my Jesus year, finishing its orbit around the sun, has been a minor passion, a closed struggle with a pleasanter ending than the Nazarene’s. Yet the beauty of the uncocooning butterflies around me is staggering. And it makes me weep. I weep for you, for you, for you and you and you, my darlings. Don’t shell over again. Show your wings. You are enough. I am love.
On Monday, in the midst of Warriors, Jen is saying yes yes yes to nouns and participles galore. Yes to feminism. Yes to beauty. Yes to dancing. One of these wonderful yeses she roars is “Yes to women!”
And I lose it. I cry. I cry for me, Argentina, for the first time all weekend. My nose runs and the tears fly in an arc as I wheel down from reverse warrior into another vinyasa.
Part of why I trundled off to a women’s college in 1999 was to try and do better at making women friends. It didn’t work; I just went down the road to the coed college and made friends with dudes instead. Neither of the two sister-friends I’ve loved are in my life anymore. I don’t have a best friend, not the whatever-whenever-secret-language kind I see in movies and memoirs.
Bluntly: I can’t seem to connect with women. They’re too busy, or they live in other cities, or they just aren’t that into me, or in the middle of us getting to know each other they have babies and make a whole different set of friends. It hurts, but I’ve tried to shrug it off. I can’t believe it’s my fault; even though not making women friends is a genuine pattern for me, I can’t find an intersecting spot among all these failed friendships where some flaw of my own resides. Continue Reading…
Note from Jen: Peter Tóth has been following me for a while on social media so it was a huge honor to have him schlep all the way to London to attend my workshop. He wrote this beautiful post after the workshop. The honor was all mine, I can assure you. I was simply blown away by this, and by him. I will be back in London at Lumi Power Yoga in Hammersmith for another workshop October 10th!
By Peter Tóth.
A re-view of a journey there and back
16-17. February 2015
Last three days (from 13th till 15th February) have been really interesting for me and I am unsure how to describe their magic in words. I feel like I can only miserably fail in attempting to do so, but I will try anyway. Although I’m not a fan of cheesy motivational quotes, I will use one now, it’s from Bob Proctor and it’s actually a good one (and not too cheesy either):
“If you know what to do to reach your goal, it’s not a big enough goal.”
So, here’s to attempting the impossible…
On Friday, the 13th, on the way home from work, I mind-travelled back to the moment I learned about Zina Nicole Lahr as it would have been her 25th birthday that day and after reading her essay Contrast And Catalyst (Click to download pdf. It’s beautiful, beautiful, beautiful and as far as I know it has disappeared from internet ) for about tenth time I felt the same connection to her as I felt back then (The only difference was, that this time I had a conscious knowledge of who she was and I was desperately trying to figure out why do I feel connected to her and why she occasionally comes to haunt my day dreams with her fragile, aetheric, otherworldly beauty.)
I wanted to celebrate her birthday, but I didn’t know how. (Not long ago I met a girl who told me to fucking forget about Zina and to concentrate on the real life instead. In a way it felt like an insult, like if she didn’t understand that every thought we think is real and that a person can be dead and still be a catalyst, an agent that provokes changes and actions and we should not be judged if we somehow found ourselves attracted to such being. Because what if each life silently continues after it disappears from this world, where we can witness and measure it? It might go unnoticed, unobserved, unsung, but so what? It might as well be, that it is simply us who don’t pay enough attention to what goes around us, after all who knows? … )
In a painful moment of realization that I will never meet her, I sort of promised myself to remember her through creativity. Through manifestation of myself via any act of creating, whether it’s writing, drawing, photography, or a paper modelling. And it was shortly after all this happened that I found another beautiful American, Jennifer Pastiloff. Once again, my moth like personality felt attracted to her flame immediately. It too happened through her writing. But this time it wasn’t as much about what she has written, or how (although its beauty and power is undisputed and I loved everything she has written). It was the courage with which she has written it. The rawness of her essays. The willingness to look the pain in the eye and the humility which shone through her after she came victorious from what must have been exhaustively tiring staring contest. I just love female warriors. I decided I must meet her. And talk to her, like one human being to another. I wanted to see her, not visually, I wanted to witness the poetry of her being.
And soon she pulled a workshop in London and although the yoga bit and the seemingly feminine character of it all scared me, I booked it immediately. That was in November 2014.
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.
I’m going through a rough patch right now with my broken foot and this made me feel good. Really really good. This was written by Sunny Beeker, an incredible woman who just attended my Mother’s Day Manifestation Retreat in Ojai. I won’t lie- it kind of blew me away. Thanks, Sunny! You should write a book. Not kidding. And thanks to everyone who was there. If I and to break my foot, there is nowhere I would’ve rather been than in the middle of dinner with you at my retreat. Okay, it was just before dinner. But you get my point.
I had to write about my experience at Jennifer Pastiloff’s Manifestation Retreat in Ojai this past Mothers Day. It was an experience of possibilities, magic, and real human connection. A big dose of what we all need from time to time.
This is what she greeted me with when I walked in the door. There stood THE Jennifer Pastiloff, giving me a hug and saying “Welcome! What’s your name? I just opened this beer, do you need one?” – in her very distinctive, strong voice. It kind of threw me seeing her standing there, the woman who’s writing, adventures and spirit I have admired for so long, just offering to show me to my room. My first thought was – she’s so tiny and then I felt a bit intimidated and a bit in awe. What do I say to her?! Our social media relationship (chatting before the retreat in her FB group) seemed so easy, but now I have to be THAT person. And then she’s handing me her beer! I don’t even like beer! (Yes, Jen, I lied when I said “sure I’d love one.” I never drink beer.). But in that moment, she became a real person and I was able to relax into the experience. And the beer tasted great.
That was the start of my I-have-no-idea-what-to-expect-why-did-I-come-alone weekend at the 2014 Manifesting in Ojai Mothers Day Retreat. And what I walked into was an amazing mixture of women (and a few men) from ALL walks of life and ages, open hearts, vulnerability off the scales, flowing tears, soul baring, singing, laughter, sweating, chatting, eating, wine drinking, star gazing, major a-ha’s, and some heart stopping spontaneous moments that took your breath away. Deep connection, compassion and self expression displayed in its purest form – with total strangers.
Then she broke her foot, our beloved leader. And while she weathered the intense pain and frustration and tears, the air/tone that she set earlier in the day never changed for the rest of us. We all carried on and sent an incredible amount of love Jen’s way, all of us believing that love is a vibrational force – which we knew was all we could do for her. So that’s what we did, let her process and carry on. OK…that was just the first day, if that gives you any indication of how strong the love was flowing.
There was no disappointment, even if you were expecting this to be a “yoga retreat”, which many did (and she has a broken foot!). Even they all said in the end – it was soooo much more. Yes, we did some yoga, but it was what happened in between that was extraordinary. Jen walks the walk she talks and writes about – even on one foot. Being human is every emotion and every experience…and believe me, she did not stay quiet about how she was feeling about her foot. She let us see her process (the very real and human ups and downs) with so much trust and honesty, and in that space I think we all felt safe to share the secret parts of ourselves. It was “Mothers Day” weekend, after all, and all the emotions that brings up. It was amazing to behold. I can’t imagine trying to explain what “a retreat with Jen” is like because I suspect it is different every time. Hate to overuse the word “amazing”, but there is just no other word. Even after, back home, I found it hard to describe what it was like. Oh and did I mention the unbelievable setting in the hills of Ojai, perfect weather, and the hot chef (Culinary Therapist!)-slash-singer/songwriter, Caspar Poyck, who cooked every meal for us and then took us on a food/self exploration in his “cooking class”?!
I came because I was looking for something. Rejunvenation. An intro to yoga. To get away. To treat myself. To be by myself. I’m not exactly sure what…but, something. I remember thinking, as I was eating and laughing my ass off and having the deepest conversations ever in my life with these strangers – Is this the real me or is the real me the one I left at home? Who is this person (me) these people are getting to know, no holds bar? I’ve never felt so present and in the moment – not holding back, not second guessing, not checking out, not wondering what they would think if they only “knew”. Not judging. I felt completely safe to be myself. Jen created a space and forced us, in her way, to let it all go. It was refreshing to simply be myself, surrounded by smart, vulnerable, powerful women (and men) – who give a damn. Because she does. And I carry that with me today.
In a nut shell – it was nothing I expected, but it was everything I needed.
If you follow Jen’s blog etc. – she kinda makes this shit happen. Honest, open, vulnerable, human, kick ass kind of shit.
An experience I will never forget. Grateful – for the leadership, the company, the wine and the memories. Can’t wait to do it AGAIN!”
I’m humbled by what Sunny wrote and what I experienced last weekend. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I hope i see some of you soon at a workshop or retreat. Love to you all, xo jen
Next retreat in Ojai is Labor Day and New Years. Book here. (Labor Day is almost full.)
**trigger warning. Strong content that might be upsetting to some. Mention of sexual abuse. Strong language.
By Lockey Maisonneuve
“Thank you to the people who built me.” Jen Pastiloff read these words from an essay she wrote at Kripalu last weekend during her Manifestation Retreat®.
Thank you. You didn’t break me.
I was tingly when I heard these words. Why? Because Jen created the space for me to powerfully, and without anger, share my gratitude and flaunt my resilience to the people who built me.
We were invited to write a Thank You letter to everyone we ever met, the loving, supporting people who showed us grace and dignity, the people who were careless with our heart, the people who bullied us and those who showed us beauty. This letter was best described by Angela Patel, a retreat participant. She called it a Thank You/Fuck You letter. “Thank you releases it, while fuck you holds it in.”
When I started writing my letter, I wasn’t sure who would receive the thank you or the fuck you. I just started writing, and thanking and fuck-youing. It all came together in one beautiful, colorful, abstract, authentic, thank you/fuck you landscape.
After I wrote this letter, I was shaking. All over. My legs, my arms, my chest, my fingers, my heart. Then I was asked to read my letter aloud. Really Jen??
I trust her. So I read the letter.
I stood there reading, not even realizing what I’d written until I tried to speak the words out loud. There was no time to prepare them for what they would hear, no time to make self-deprecating comments, or a joke to avoid being present to this moment. I just had to stand in the uncertainty that I could be vulnerable and would not crumble into a pile on the floor.
As I read my letter I realized I was getting exactly what I came for. I was being vulnerable. I was standing in uncertainty. I did not use my humor to deflect the situation like I normally do. I was authentic. I was raw. I was humbled.
My audience held the space for me to express things I’ve never said out loud. Once again, I made it through. I did not crumble. I am whole (and kinda awesome.)
I am forever grateful to Kripalu and the amazing space they provide, Jen Pastiloff for being the space of transformation for the planet, and everyone of the women I hugged, laughed and cried with. I am in awe of every one of you.
My Thank You/Fuck You Letter inspired by Jen’s essay and assignment (click here to read it.)
Thank you to the kid who poured breadcrumbs on my sister before school. Thank you to my sister for pushing me away. thank you to my family for telling me repeatedly “She is the strong one.” Thank you to Andrew for hiring me as a bar tender and telling me during the interview that he knew I was lying about having experience as a bar tender. Thank you to the rapist who punched me in the face. Thenk you to the man who pulled me out of the shower after sneaking in to the house. Thenk you to the man who held me down, thank you to my father who laughed as he counted the money men paid him to rape me.Thank you to the lady who worked in the bakery who bartered babysitting services in exchange for free breakfast. Thank you to me for my ingenuity at the age of 12. Thank you to my children for teaching me how to love unconditionally. Thank you to me for getting up every time I fell. Thank you to cancer for allowing me to see that “someday” is a myth, the time is now. Thank you lululemon for making yoga pants mainstream. Thank you Jean, for saving me. Thank you Ed for firing me, I hated that job. Thank you personal training career for teaching me that I do have something to offer.
PS. As a public service announcement, if you are planing on attending a retreat with Jen, which I highly recommend, don’t bother wearing mascara. It will be gone by the end of the first Elton John song and for the rest of the day, you will be wondering if it’s all over your face. 🙂
Lockey is a yoga instructor and survivor of cancer and child abuse. Sharing her story and practicing yoga saved her life. When she let go of both the cancer and the secret of abuse she was able to heal in both mind and body. Lockey openly shares her cancer and child abuse experiences to help others in what ever they are surviving in their lives. Lockey has been profiled in Shape Magazine WABC-TV, News Channel 12. She is a montly contributor for PositivelyPositive.com. And writes blogs for SheKnows.com and MindBodyGreen.She is featured in The Ultimate Guide to Breast Cancer by the Editors of Prevention Magazine. Recently she presented a vidoechat for the GE Healthcare Breast Cancer Mosaic. She is a monthly contributor on PositivelyPositive.com.
Jennifer Pastiloff is a writer based in Los Angeles. She is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Jen will be leading a Retreat in Costa Rica at the end of March and her annual retreat to Tuscany is in July 2014. All retreats are a combo of yoga/writing and for ALL levels. Read this post to understand what a Manifestation retreat is. Check out her site jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Jen and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading another writing retreat to Vermont in October. Be prepared to go deep if you go sign up for a retreat. And also to laugh! A lot.
A year ago today, I was cancer free and on my way home from an amazing weekend retreat at Kripalu run by Jennifer Pastiloff. During those three days, I discussed my fear and anger and hopes for my future (even though I was scared to death of what the future might hold). Even with no evidence of disease, cancer still controlled my life.
Four months later I learned the cancer was back. Life, once again, had to be put on hold.
Or did it?
When what you fear the most in life occurs, what else is there to fear? The answer is: nothing.
Seems as if along with some tumors, I grew a pair of balls. I made plans for my future. I traveled. I laughed. I wrote. I loved and I lived. I realized every time I used the phrase, “I’ll be happy when..” I was allowing fear to control my life.
“I’ll be happy when my next scan is clear.”
“I’ll be happy when I’m in remission for over five years”
Life doesn’t work that way. There are no guarantees that anything will happen, except life itself. It will always keep moving, keep changing.
Be happy now.
Don’t wait for someday, some person, some job, some thing. Now. Right now. No matter what you are going through there can be joy found somewhere. Find it.
As Jen says: Be a beauty hunter.
I returned to Kripalu again this weekend for Jen’s workshop; this time a little slower due to the chemotherapy I’m back on. I kept up with the yoga moves as much as I could; sometimes falling into child’s pose when my body began to give out.
Jen never pushes you physically, I love her for that. Emotionally though? She draws it out of you. Her own openness and vulnerability make you want to be your most authentic self. Her writing prompts have you digging deep and cut right through the bullshit. There is no hiding when she comes close and looks into your eyes. When you have given all you can give, she smiles that knowing smile. It is the smile of someone who has been there, who has experienced pain and wants to help you get to the other side of it. I love that smile.
Jen is a firm believer in asking for what you want. She prompted us to write about things we wanted to ask for in life, without fear of the word ‘no’. Here is my list:
1. Hey, God, can you finally rid my body of this cancer once and for all?
2. Dr. Kemeny, can I come off of the chemotherapy yet?
3. Can I be loved in the way I want and need to be loved?
4. Can I continue to have these amazing orgasms…but, with someone else in the room?
5. Can someone help me make my ‘Fuck It List’ a platform I use to help others going through difficulties in life?
I’ll wait and see if the Universe answers these questions for me. What I won’t wait for, however, is my happiness. That will come regardless of the answer.
Thank you, Jennifer Pastiloff, for all that you are and all that you do. I know who is walking beside me; 40 incredible women from this retreat. Much love to you all.
Note from Jen: I am humbled, not only to read this, but to know Kathleen. Please send her love on Wednesday as she has her next scans. Oh, and fuck you, Cancer.
ps, what’s on your Fuck It List? Post below!
Don’t you love the Fuck It List idea? Let’s help her make it viral! Connect with her here. Say I sent you, k?
New Year #MSH by Martha Meyer Barantovich
A perfectly perfect day. A perfectly perfect time of year. A perfectly perfect opportunity for relaxation.
It would seem that flying to LA and driving the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH for all the cool kids) while watching the sun set into the water was a brilliant idea. Ojai, California was the backdrop for an amazing retreat with Jennifer Pastiloff, of the New Jersey Pastiloffs and of Karaoke Yoga/Manifestation Workshop fame. I had signed my beloved husband Joe (heretofore “My Lobster) and myself up for Jen’s Inaugural Manifestation New Year’s Retreat.
I walked in feeling like I was hanging onto my last ounce of sanity and left more than transformed, with enough life changing memories and lessons that will stick with me forever.
Broken, Battered, Bewildered and Beautiful.
Walking into a room full of strangers, on my 47th birthday, and trying to express in a circle what it means to be at a Manifestation retreat (where people come to “Make Shit Happen”; hashtag #MSH), is like being dropped into the middle of Siberia. In the middle of winter. With no coat. And no Russian. And no vodka.
Like whoa. Who does that? Who decides at the end of the year that they are going to allow themselves to be ripped open and peered at by strangers? Who decides that spending their birthday with the unknown and the unknowing would be a the way to celebrate life? Who gathers in a space during football bowl season without a TV or a sports bar? Me. And My Lobster. And everyone else there too it seemed. Because we had to. Because, as Jen repeated (she does this a lot…repeats…and repeats… so you’ll get it, I mean get it, no, I mean really get IT), “like attracts like”.
So there we were 40 some odd strangers who were broken and battered and bewildered and beautiful. This is my observation that came from the self talk in our opening circle. We had collectively broken up, gotten back together, changed jobs, changed life statuses, changed coasts, moved in, moved out, retreated before, manifested before, worked our way to just being, and some just showed up because that’s what they needed to do. We needed to speak our truth (notice the little t) so that we could start “drawing to us” our desires/manifestations for 2014. We had to open the door to our souls just a little and let a little light in and a little darkness out to get things rolling. And let me tell you. When you are broken and battered and bewildered and beautiful, it only takes a speck of sand on your mountain of shit to start the avalanche of healing. Deep soul healing.
What are you manifesting? What are you doing to be inspired? How are you setting up your life to experience “Joy for NO Reason”? And we begin. We OM. I mean we really OM. I love to Om. (Side note…not the OM that you may read about that involves half naked women and pillows and such). I could drop and cross my legs and close my eyes anywhere and OM from the depth of my soul because the sound and the connection and the vibration totally rocks my world. Imagine a room full of broken, battered, bewildered, and beautiful people letting their walls fall and OMing from the depths of their soul. Together. In a room that has nothing but positive, radiant energy in it. And you’re sitting almost knee to knee with strangers creating a vibration that moves through the rafters towards heaven and bounces off walls and to you and ….wow. I wanted to hold on to that sound forever. Like a musical snapshot. I don’t ever want to forget the power that was in those voices.
Because I knew that I had come to a place that was going to heal me and my broken, battered, bewildered, beautiful self.
I needed this so I could get out of this horrible place in my head that I have been in since January 7, 2013, my quit smoking (again) day. I’m coming up on my 1 year anniversary. My lungs are happy, my skin is happy, my family is happy, My Lobster is happy, society is happy, everyone I know keeps telling my what an awesome thing it was to quit smoking. And it has sucked. Everyday for the past 359 days has sucked. There have been varying degrees of suckiness, from lying on a bed in the fetal position with a knife in my hand just wishing I could die to just feeling generally meh. Quitting smoking, while making everyone else in the world happy has made me miserable. It was the last thing I had to hide behind. It was my thing that removed me from uncomfortable situations, that allowed me to separate myself from the crowd, that allowed me opportunity to disconnect for a while, that occupied my time and my thoughts, that generally just owned my life. Good God. I was owned my nicotine (that is an absolute breakthrough in those words…never said that before or even thought it). And in its own sick way, nicotine and cigarettes saved me. They were ALWAYS there for me. They ALWAYS protected me. You need to know that because I was left alone. When the cigarettes left I was exposed. And naked. And vulnerable. And I didn’t know how to do any of those things. Because, let’s be honest…who messes with the chick who smokes and is built like a linebacker? Ya….nobody. And I liked it that way. For 30 of my 45 years I was safe and protected and ok. And then, just like that, I wasn’t. And how I made it to my 47th birthday is beyond me.
If it Jiggles, It’s not finished.
And so the whirlwind manifestation retreat comes barreling at you…stampeding straight towards you. There’s no time to think, there’s only time to be real and authentic and to SHOW UP. You don’t have time to question or judge or be concerned or worry or shoulda/coulda/woulda about anything. Because you open yourself up by calling forth your #MSH (manifestation/desire) and BAM Jen is taking you on the ride. Cat/Cow, downdog, crescent lunge, hiya, warrior 1,2,3, breathe, sigh, inhale, hands to prayer, repeat the mantra, 6 more times, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat. Sweat, start to cry. Listen to the music. You’re moving collectively, individually, in your own space and in others and you’re concentrating and calling forth and meditating and oh my GAWD…Why am I fucking crying again? Is it this song? Is it Jen’s words on repeat? Is it the moving? The space? the breathing? STOP. DROP. “PICK UP YOUR PENS”….what? I can’t breathe woman…can’t you see me heaving with emotion and trying to catch my breath after the 174 vinyasas you just made me do? Can’t you tell that I’m in no condition to write a goddamn word…oh…and I have to answer questions as I write? And dear …what…? I’m not the only mess in the room. There are sniffles and heavy breathing and silence…as I am surrounded by people who are being authentic and vulnerable and honest and raw and true and sad and joyful and amazing and not finished.
We are all just getting started on this part of the journey and Jen is forcing us to confront ideas and realities that are amazing and painful and beautiful and awesome and ridiculous and…..huh??? Did I just hear my name? Oh you want me to share out loud with these people my raw truth that just came from, I swear, the center of the earth.
What people say I am: giving, kind, joyful, caring, a good teacher, friendly, fun. What I say: fat, not worthy, not good enough (I am sloppy crying at this point), useless. The truth is I am a caring, giving, enthusiastic supporter who will take on the giants for others but is afraid to follow through with the little things. I can’t breathe at this point. I’m pretty sure I have snot dripping everywhere, but I feel so free because the truth is: I never take stock of the Truth. Truth with a capital T, not a little t. I think that I mostly allow the little t to fake represent the big T. And so I’m not done. I’m still jiggly, like the ganache baking in the oven that isn’t ready (I’ll be glad to share the amazing insights from Caspar Poyck at another time). It needs more time. And whoa again….jiggly is ok. It’s like more than ok.
It’s awesome and freeing and beautiful and I think I’m experiencing “Joy for No Reason”.
And I’m pretty sure that I want this feeling to last forever.
Vulnerability is Sexy
And this goes on and on and on and we breathe and move and listen and sweat and stop drop and pick up our pens and write and share and laugh and cry and do it again and again and again.
And looking back it was over in a minute. But while there it was like this roller coaster that has these little dips and I’m like “Ok..this is cool…not too scary, not too safe” and I can’t see in front of me so I don’t know what’s coming and then the car turns a corner and dropsofastyoucantthinkastowetheryoushouldscreamorcryorvomitorhitsomeoneordieorliveorgetofforstayonorahhhh
and you laugh. This laugh that sounds like someone has lit you on glitter fire and filled a room with butterflies and chocolate fountains and all the things that make you fill loved and safe and wonderful and joy. And in that first second I think, “Do I deserve this?” And Jen comes up with another one of her Jen-isms like, “Choose love” “Let go of fear” “Be Fucking Awesome” and the feeling of love and letting go and being awesome is so overwhelming I just want to open my mouth and scream and laugh and burst forth and hug strangers (oooohh…that’s big…cause Martha don’t like strangers in her space), and tell people how beautiful they are. And I know it wasn’t just me that felt that, because I watched people who were sitting hunched over in our opening circle look up and smile and lift their hearts and breathe deeper. And I saw people who don’t cry, cry. And connect. And love. And open. And blossom. And share. And be vulnerable.
And after every class and writing session I think, how can I possible do anymore of this? How can I not?
And so I leave California and head back home to Miami, to reality, to my life. And I’m full. Full in my soul. And connected to a tribe. And I’m full of love for these wonderful people who have been a part of a change. An individual/collective change that is going to individually/collectively make 2014 amazing. Because 2013 is gone. The rock that caused the flat isn’t important. What’s important is to change the flat and move on. And find your true self. So I leave you with these manifestation retreat insights:
- Drink good wine.
- Eat good food.
- Love deeply.
- Have an energetic clearing.
- Attend a yoga class.
- Move your energy around with sound bowls.
- Hit a gong.
- Listen to nature.
- Sit in a chair as the sun rises and stare at nothing and at everything.
- Take pictures.
- Share your story.
- Don’t box people up so that you feel better.
- Let go. Open up. Be free.
- Get your fingers dirty with your food.
- Write a love note to yourself.
- Look someone in the eyes as they speak so you give them your undivided attention.
- Make new friends.
- Be real and honest.
- Put down your phone.
- Thank someone who loves you for loving you.
- Be vulnerable. Good grief. Be vulnerable.
- Share your gift(s).
- Manifest your Lobster or your dream job or money or time or whatever you need. Hashtag #MSH.
- Say thank you aloud and to things and ideas and life.
- And when you get a chance, find Jen on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram or the web and join a room full of strangers with shit piles just like you (because there are no accidents) and manifest. Inspire yourself to be inspired. Everyday. Bring your hands to prayer. Place them in front of your heart. And repeat when necessary “I am worthy”
Because if I am worthy, so must you be.
by Martha Meyer Barantovich (click to connect with Martha.)
Hello from Lenox, Mass. This video is deeply personal and deals with the theme of trust. Here is the video I mentioned in the above with video Christy Turlington Burns and Every Mother Counts
Love you, my beloved Tribe xo www.jenniferpastiloff.com. Share this video if inspired to, as always.
Jennifer Pastiloff, Beauty Hunter, is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up: South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Kripalu Center For Yoga & Health, Tuscany. She is also leading a Writing + The Body Retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch Jan 30-Feb 1 in Ojai (sold out) as well as Other Voices Querétaro with Gina Frangello, Emily Rapp, Stacy Berlein, and Rob Roberge. She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.
by Amy Shearn.
Like all young people who spend a lot of their time thinking about being creative, talking about being creative, and planning out their acceptance speeches for the awards given to outstanding creative artists, my high school writers’ group and I used to enthusiastically say things to each other like, “Some day everyone will think it was so amazing we knew each other way back when!” We were absolutely certain that we were the next Bloomsbury, or at the very least, Beats. (In the way of enthusiastic amateurs everywhere, we had not quite noticed our contemporaries. I had a strong and somewhat presumptuous sense that I was too busy reading the classics off the AP English Extra Reading list to buy books written by people currently alive.)
On a side note, I attended my first meeting of Writer’s Group barefoot.
The Writer’s Group has since dispersed. One of our prose writers has become an organic farmer; our poet-in-residence has changed her name to Astra Spider and become a life coach. As it turns out, we were not the next Literary Brat Pack, though we were sometimes bratty (it was one of the crowning achievements of my school career when my junior-year English teacher called me a literary snob.) But I still distinctly remember that thrill of feeling a part of something special, the brain-tingle of meeting, on a Sunday night after the homework was finished, in a suburban living room or corporate bookstore café, to discuss the writing we’d done, and, more significantly to me then, the writing we would some day do.
It’s that feeling that matters, that nourishing buzz of being excited about creating something, excited about what other people are creating. That moment when you’re brimming with ideas and energy because you’ve been talking to other people who are creating, too. It’s why even the most solitary of artists, even the most dedicated of nose-to-the-grindstone workers, need creative community.
The downsides of creative community are well-documented: competitiveness can be fostered; existing in an echo-chamber can be deadening. But that sense that you are not alone, that other people love what you love, that someone will be excited to see your etching or hear your composition – even if it’s only your handful of people – is what keeps creativity feeling relevant in our world, where there is so much trouble, so much work to be done, so little reward for sui generis creativity.
It’s lovely to be in a writer’s group, attend a conference, or enroll in an MFA program if you have the opportunity. Whatever creative community you have access to, nurture it. Give back to it – go to other people’s events when you can, support the art of artists you love. But if you don’t know other creative people, or live in some remote area where artists are as sparsely strewn as no-fee ATMs in Manhattan, lucky you – lucky all of us – to be living in the time of Twitter.
I know! It’s a controversial statement, but that’s it, I’ll say it: Twitter is nice.
For as much as we all love to complain about how Twitter and Facebook are time-sucks and “not for serious writers” (and be “we all” I mean Jonathan Franzen), they can also be lovely ways to connect. Even though I live in Brooklyn, which is lousy with other creative-types, I have recently found myself marooned by motherhood; all those readings and literary events I used to attend as a way to be a part of New York City’s lively, inspiring, “everyone-is-so-productive-and-successful-I-gotta-get-to-work” panic-attack-inducing community…they all seem to be scheduled to coincide precisely with little kid bedtime. And yet when my daily life is grinding me into a decidedly uncreative stupor, I can peek at my cracked, peanut-butter-smudged iPhone and get a little shot of the smart life from the feeds of @juliafierro or @readandbreathe or @publicroad. In a recent Twitter exchange @juliafierro and @pronounced_ing and I were discussing writers who aren’t on Twitter, and I wrote: “they probably just, like, read Proust and think really hard all day.” Celeste Ng (@pronounced_ing) replied, perfectly, “Let ’em. We have much more fun over here.”
So maybe I’m not part of the next Bloomsbury group. I can hardly manage to get my friends together for brunch. But I can still be a part of a creative community, and no matter where in the world you are, or who in the world you know, you can be too.
Amy Shearn is the author of two novels, including The Mermaid of Brooklyn [http://www.amazon.com/The-Mermaid-Brooklyn-A-Novel/dp/1451678282]. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, The Millions, and elsewhere. She regularly writes for Oprah.com, and curates a reading series called Lit at Lark. Visit her atamyshearnwrites.com, facebook.com/amyshearnwrites, or on twitter @amyshearn.
I will get to the stories we make up about ourselves but this here is about what we put on other people. Love for you to watch and as always I love to hear what YOU have to say xo jen
Hey my beloved Tribe,
This is a video interview I did with my dear buddy Chuck Peterson last summer that was previously for sale but I am posting it here FREE because I love the bleep out of you.
If you are looking to build your following at all, check it out. I hope you find it useful. Love you guys. PS, have you done any of my classes online at Yogis Anonymous? Here they are. Use code jenp10 and get 10 free days!!
Feel free to share this! I am headed to the east coast April 1-9. Massachusetts, NYC, Philly and NJ. Stay tuned xo jen
The best and the worst things.
Isn’t it funny how sometimes they get muddled together and maybe some words switch places and then one day you don’t know which is the truer one? The best and the worst things of our lives sometimes so intertwined that the father dying gets confused with the doughnut and the baby being born becomes the ghost. The best and the worst things climbing the walls of your mind and some days the one that makes it out alive is a hybrid of all that ever was.
The best and the worst and the days in between.
Yesterday I asked my Facebook Tribe to fill in the blanks. Here’s what I wrote:
The best thing that someone has ever said to me was ______. The best thing I ever said to me was _______. The worst thing I ever said to me was _______. Be honest & brave.
I forgive you. It’s going to be okay. I don’t want to be alive anymore.
When I grow up I want to be you. I am proud of my body. I suck at being a mother.
You are an inspiration. You deserve everything life has to offer- you are good enough. You aren’t good enough to be loved.
Those were just a few of the responses.
How quickly we can end up in the very worst storm. How easy it is to get trapped on the very worst island. How familiar it is to be with the very worst things.
The very worst things for me have been things I have said to myself. The worst things that happened were the death of my father and the other losses and trauma I have suffered, but once you move through them (and you do!) you find the second best very worst things come from your own brain. Your own brain, that Godammned traitor! Your brain who you stood by all those years and helped through the loss of your father and the news that your nephew had a rare genetic disorder.
Your brain, which you thought was on your side but which turns out to take no sides at all.
The best things. How they cannot be trusted like the worst things. The worst things loom over them like a fat bully by a set of lockers. You think you can win? You can’t. I will always win. I am bigger and stronger the voice by the lockers will say as it reminds you of all the worst things that are possible. You are nothing. You are a mess. You are never going to finish. You deserve to die.
If you made a list of the best things and the worst things could you bear to look at it?
Would the You aren’t good enough get mixed up with I am proud of my body? Would you not know which one to trust? Oh, the very best things and the very worst things. Vying for space. Would the You are an inspiration shirk under the weight of I don’t want to be alive anymore if you hung them on your wall above the sofa?
This is what happens with life, I suppose. There is so so much. There is so much to being a person in the world and we have to choose what we hang on the wall above the sofa. We have to choose what makes our top ten and what we pass on to our children over breakfast.
Imagine this for a moment: You are making eggs. You think, or maybe you even speak I suck at being a mother and your child gets his or her plate and takes less eggs than you would like (they never eat enough!) and they hear you (because that’s what kids do whether you speak it aloud or not) and now your very worst thing is hanging above the sofa and everyone knows it and sees it and stands around it like it is really there. When it’s not. It’s in the eggs and it’s in the air and your child will never acknowledge he or she heard you but they will swallow runny yolks and wonder why you suck at being a mother and maybe they will look for signs of such suckiness. Maybe they will prove to you that you suck at being a mother since that’s what’s hanging over the sofa. And then your very worst thing becomes the truth and most valued object in the house and people come over and sit on the sofa and try not look up at what you have hung above their heads.
Okay, that won’t happen. I hope not, at least. But it is so easy, isn’t it?
All the years I hated myself. I thought I was a monster. My very worst thing is all I spoke and so the monster lived with me. We shared a space and I fed it or starved it and it reminded me how ugly and fat I was and I showed people as often as I could. I am disgusting the monster/me would say to them.
My algorithms were off.
Algorithms are essential to the way computers process data. As it is with us.
What, you think you are that different than a computer? I know I’m not. Input, output, send, delete, process, store. All of it. The same.
I have filed things in the wrong places and then when I went to look for them I couldn’t find what I was looking for so I took what I could find and hung it above my sofa. Right there on the wall.
This is how the dictionary defines algorithms: a procedure for solving a mathematical problem (as of finding the greatest common divisor) in a finite number of steps that frequently involves repetition of an operation.
I hate math. I went to a therapist as child because of my math phobia but I am going to break it down for you in my math-phobic way.
The greatest divisor is our minds. How we process it. It messes up the very best things and the worst things and muddles them in such a way that it becomes finite. That’s that. That’s the truth. That’s just the way it is. Forever and ever and ever.
Repetition of an operation. Well, that’s life for you, isn’t it? This wheel keeps on turning. You keep going around and around and repeating the same things. People are born. They die. They say things. Things happen or they don’t. You keep hanging things on the wall above the sofa.
I am looking for a system that organizes itself but I am not sure that will ever happen. I think I need to keep manually separating the very best things with the very worst and the beauty from the garbage.
Euclid was the ancient Greek man who invented the algorithm and geometry as we know it. His name literally translates into Good Glory. I like that. I get that he was all into numbers and stuff, but, I think there was something more. I think perhaps he was teaching us in his way about how to live in the very best way with the very best things in all our good glory.
May you live in all your good glory and keep reminding yourself the best things. Over and over.