And So It Is, Beating Fear with a Stick, writing

On Discovering You Are Still Human.

December 9, 2012

Here’s a promise I make to you, my Tribe. I will always be: honest, vulnerable and my most unadulterated self, without any fluff or bullshit to lead you into thinking I am any better or worse than I really am, (as if those words actually mean anything.)

If you don’t like it, this pledge to be me, as it were, you probably haven’t “liked” my blog and aren’t reading this. And that’s ok, I don’t feel rejected. In fact, I probably don’t even know and neither do you. (It’s better that way.)

But for those who have connected with me, and me to you, listen up. This is for you. I am committed to what I have started which is: a call to arms, a rally cry, a demonstration of what it means to be real person, not a shadow living in the peripheries, not a status update, not a perfect yoga teacher or daughter or wife or any of the words that could move in quietly after the word perfect but rather a human being with faults and cracks and and histories and mistakes. I do not have a lesson plan for this. What I know to be true is that human beings forget that we are all human beings, so sometimes, when someone reminds us, when they literally shove an example in our face like a crumpled up coffee stained map and we have no choice but to pull over in the car and stop on the side of the road to read the map with its coffee stink and fingerprints and out-of-dated-ness, we somehow find our way.

Someone else’s journey can help us along, sometimes, on our own. It doesn’t always get us to where we are going. Like I said, the map is probably out of date, having been shoved under the passenger seat of someone else’s car for Lord knows how long, but its something.

Its something.

I was in a great mood this morning even though I drank too much cheap red wine at a party last night. (Human attritube #1: I drink and teach yoga and have a spiritual practice.) The thing is, with cheap red wine, you do not have to drink much for it to be too much. Nonetheless, I woke up happy and inspired and knew I would teach a fantastic yoga class. And so it is. Happiness is decided beforehand. I heard that recently and fell in love with it. I decided beforehand. My class will be one of those classes where I have to stop myself from thinking that This is a fluke. This can’t be possible that this many people come to my class and are so open, so willing to listen and shift. I am going to have to wait tables again tomorrow because this must be a dream. I am not even that good at yoga.

(Human attribute #2: I am a really good yoga teacher (at least I think.) No, I know. And, I am actually not that good at yoga. Whatever that means. (Read: I can’t balance for 2 minutes in the center of the room in a handstand and I don’t know all the sanskrit and I can’t put my leg behind my head and I still think triangle pose is hard.)

It wasn’t a dream. My class was packed and the room almost moved in synchronicity (almost never happens, especially in the early Sunday morning class. Come on! It’s Sunday morning for Chrissakes.) The room was bursting with love (cliche, notwithstanding, it was so love filled and in sync it could have been a parody.) The theme was related to my 5 Most Beautiful Things Project and how beauty connects us.

How if we let it, we can channel it.

May I always be a channel of beauty. For beauty. May the beauty I see be who I am. May I always see the beauty. I am sure I uttered that somewhere in between vinyasas and backbends.

You must understand, I teach at a gym. A gym! Yes, it is the very high end Equinox, but still, a gym. I teach at a gym and the people (my Tribe) who come to my class are so into what we are doing, they let me be who I am (a human) and I let them be who they are. It is astounding sometimes and perhaps why I feel like its a fluke. How can this be happening at a gym? What shift is taking place in consciousness? My class is NOT easy but it is by no means asana (posture) based. And yet it is packed.

So I am feeling good and on purpose and probably my ego is a little on fire and someone signed up for my Maui retreat and also Ojai based on my writings, so yea I am feeling gooood. Until I check my email and get a rejection email from a literary site I wanted to write. I will call it “R.” I say literary because it is not like the inspirational sites I usually write for. It’s a bit more cynical, more witty, less woo woo. I wanted it because then I would be a real writer. 

(Human attribute #3: I struggle with the notion of being a real writer even though I know that is a made up term. What’s a real writer? One that isn’t plastic? That’s not made from Coke bottles or cereal boxes? What is a real anything? What is a normal anything? These terms don’t exist and yet I strive for someone to name me. Name me a writer, call me “writer”, please? Award me with that.)

(Human attribute #4:  How no matter how much self work or inner work I do, rejection still hurts. It may not hurt for as long but it still does.)

All of a sudden I shut down. Just like that. One email later, I crawl back into my unmade bed (Human attribute #5: I don’t make the bed. Not a lot) and feel sorry for myself and also angry and also that I couldn’t write and why bother when I am just going to get rejected and how snooty “real writers” are and how I am just seen as a yoga teacher and who the Hell am I anyway?

So I get up and write.

Why? It is cathartic to me and because, my hope is that when I share some of the things I go through that make me feel very very human and raw, sometimes you will relate. Ah! I don’t feel so alone as you lay in your own unmade bed. That’s it. I am hoping that by passing you my old dirty coffee stained out-of-date map that you will take it with a grain of salt, with love, and with the notion that I am most undoubtedly NOT Superhuman. That I still think rejection sucks and it hurts but that I got over it quicker this time (I did. I actually feel better now.)

(Human attribute #6: I write because I have to. It’s what I do with the pain. With the rejection. And with the love. It’s what I have to do.)

To the site “R” who said that the piece is not for us, well, that’s okay. It’ll find a home. It always does, doesn’t it?

When our hearts get broken and we think we will never love again, not ever, this is the last time, I am swearing off love! we do and we do and we do.

(Human attribute #7: I am doing very well but that I still have fits of feeling unworthy based on someone’s opinion. Case in point, “R” rejects me and I fall apart. And sometimes, despite “overcoming” anorexia, I still have days where I feel so fat but that mostly I am happy to be here in my skin as Jennifer Pastiloff.)

And that if I continue to allow myself to decide on my happiness ahead of time that the moments of happiness will far outweigh the moments of feeling like I am doing it wrong, that I have made a mistake.

Here’s to being human, guys. I am raising my glass to yours. Cheers.

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  • Reply sonia December 9, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Ha! I just had the same “crawl back in my cave” moment today! I was taught every no brings you closer to a yes 😉 but its still hard

  • Reply Sara December 9, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    I think we (society, maybe just women, because I am one) get so much pressure put on us to be perfect. And you’ve written about that before: There is no such thing.
    It’s a great idea to reflect on just how human you are. We all need to know it’s okay to feel the way we do about what happens to us in life. We shouldn’t always have to fake a smile and act like it’s all okay. Just a minute and say, okay, that sucked.

  • Reply joshbecker246538350 December 9, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    I struggled up against the same notion that I wasn’t a “Real Writer” until I shoved my EGO out of the way and affirmed the truth, “I AM A WRITER”. You are too! You have a blog, people read it, that makes you a “real writer”.

    I struggled with rejection my whole life up until recently. Until I learned that a “No to me is a Yes to you!”. When others say, “No” to me it’s not a rejection. They are saying, “Yes” to themselves. Furthermore, I can’t be rejected because I choose to no longer take things personally. That actually includes compliments too! I take nothing personally (I do my best anyway). Because I know that a “Not to me” is actually a way for someone else to self-preserve themselves I actually celebrate them. Months ago I asked my wife if she’d like to share a hug. She said, “No” and at first it stung pretty hard. Then I realized she just wasn’t in a place to feel physical affection which in fact had nothing to do with me and everything to do with her. She was taking care of herself by saying, “Yes to herself” (which was a no to me). So, I celebrated her! I was excited that she was taking care of herself. So that I didn’t abandon myself I made sure to give myself some attention since I still had a need to fill that couldn’t by her denial of the hug.

    The “R” Site didn’t say, “No to you” they said “Yes to themselves”. Whatever the reason they decided to say, “Yes to themselves” doesn’t matter. Send them loving, compassion, and nurturing thoughts knowing they are just taking care of themselves the best way they know how and it has NOTHING to do with you.

    You ARE a Writer and you literally cannot be rejected my beautiful friend!

  • Reply Nicole December 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    And we raise our glasses to you! Times of happiness will always exceed moments of feeling inadequate; the trick is letting yourself embrace those happy moments. True character is defined not by how many times you fall or fail, but by how many times you get up and start over. It is the strength you show in picking yourself up that puts a great impression on the rest of the world, not the failure. We see your awesomeness that ‘R’ obviously failed to recognize. Their loss, our gain.

  • Reply Lisa H. December 9, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    May the fact that your honest, raw, beautiful writing resonates with so many of us balance the rejection you felt from “R.”

  • Reply Regina Donohue December 9, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Dear Jen,

    Your postings are so meaningful. I find great comfort in your honesty. You express your disappointment about rejection of your writing but rest assured, Jen, you are a writer. I love to read and of all the things I read, your postings are what I look forward to the most. And I.m 65 years old!

    Your thoughts on loss and grief have touched me deeply. You lost your father so early in life and then your stepfather and I know these losses have affected you profoundly. A few years back I attended a funeral and it was a very young priest who said “Look to the living for your comfort.” KEEP WRITING AND TELLING US YOUR THOUGHTS ON YOUR LOSSES, Jen, and we will listen. At the same time, you are helping us work through our losses.

    My brother died at the age of 49 in his sleep similar to your dear friend Steve Bridges. There seems to be no way to fill the void I feel, and it has been 17 years. I would not have known what a wonderful person Steve Bridges was if I had not come across your web site. It was the picture of Steve and you on the beach that brought me to tears and actual sobs. He was holding the brightest star in his universe in his arms. Jen, both of you are so beautiful in that picture. I am so sorry for your loss.

    Let the love of your family and friends guide you through the difficult times. And keep writing. You’re a writer, but, more importantly, you are a philosopher.

    Sincerely,

    Jean Donohue

  • Reply K.O. Yoga December 9, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    i love that you drink wine and don’t make your bed 🙂 you’re awesome just as you are!

  • Reply Lakshmi Loves To Shop December 9, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Thank you for your powerful and honest post. Here’s to your fantastic blog and a great you!

  • Reply jamesvincentknowles December 9, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    haha, Jennifer! Guess what? You ARE a writer. Soon you’ll look forward to rejections. Why? Because there are 7 Billion people on this planet & I dunno how many publishers. Imagine having to write for them ALL~!

    haha!

    Just write, you weirdo. You’re a writer & as you know, writers write. Hell, writers can even write about rejection & be happy doing it!

  • Reply anna pereira December 10, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Love it sweetie – and I love how you use so many parantheses – (I write like that too ) LOL ~ You are awesome and don’t let someone / something that you know is going to judge you get you down. As a creative type I get hurt easily by critiques and going into something to be judged (accepted, whatever) I think makes us want soemthing even bad-der? Like we have to be liked and accepted by all – especially when we are to be judged by ‘experts’. You are amazing and know it. Keep on changing the world xoxo <3 Anna

  • Reply kristen farlow December 10, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    I am so glad you are my yoga teacher. =) Thank you for reminding me that being human is not only good, but daring and beautiful.

    See you tomorrow night!

  • Reply happilyyes December 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Beautiful! You are a wonderful writer because you have something to say, you write it, and it touches people. Many “real” writers will never inspire so many people in the way that you do. I am grateful to have access to your words, and I cannot wait for your book to be published. Can I order and advanced copy? 🙂

  • Reply naturegirltara December 11, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    We have much in common my dear–I’m human, I’m a writer, I don’t make my bed, I’m as raw and authentic as you are and I have to write to get rid of all the thoughts. It all makes sense to me woman, keep doing what you’re doing!

  • Reply Gabriela Ramirez January 3, 2013 at 9:53 am

    I LOVE your blog. Reading your work about being human and coming to accept and love yourself has helped me on my journey, especially on days when I feel not okay with being myself. Thank you for encouraging me to be my authentic self. I’m going to use these quotes as mantras: “Happiness is decided beforehand.” and, “May I always be a channel of beauty. For beauty. May the beauty I see be who I am. May I always see the beauty.”

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