Category Archives: authenticity

What Are You Doing With Your Life? (Or How I Reconnected to My Verve.)

When people are doing what they’re meant to be doing, it’s evident. They have a certain glow about them. A radiance. They’re aligned with the infinite power of the Universe and it simply can’t help but pour out through every inch of them.

It’s in how they walk and how they talk – how they’re most human – that they express this pathway to the Divine.

Jen Pastiloff is doing what she is meant to be doing.

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Post-workshop glow.

She’s one such example that I had the good fortune to spend three hours with this past weekend at her ‘Manifest-Station: On Being Human’ workshop at Moksha Yoga in Chicago.

It was one of the best workshops I’ve ever been to. Hands down.

How do you define what Jen does? How do you explain what she accomplishes in the time span of 3 hours, or about the length of your typical NFL football game? She herself has asked this question. In many ways her workshop defies explanation, though there are many adjectives to describe it: amazing, miraculous, transformative, beautiful, stunning, to name a few. It’s easy to gush about it, but hard to actually explain how it all happens.

And yet, it is also quite simple:

Jen reconnects you with your humanity.

In fun, engaging, provocative, and thoughtful ways, Jen combines music, movement, and moments to open you up to that which you are and that which you’ve been hiding.

Through a series of writing prompts Jen invites you to explore obstacles, beliefs, patterns, and love. Through basic yoga movements, Jen gets your body (and soul) up and engaged in the process. She has developed a workshop that takes you on a journey of the heart through the doorway of the body, using the physical senses of touch and sound.

As a person who has done a lot of work on herself (a LOT!), I admit to being somewhat skeptical (but hopeful) as I walked through the door. I wasn’t quite sure of what to expect, emotionally or physically. Physically, because I have a less-than-awesome foot right now and haven’t really done any yoga in about 8-10 years, I was more than a little scared about what lay in front of me. The good news is: you really don’t have to “do” yoga to do the workshop – which was exactly what I needed! Jen has said it repeatedly, but I was unsure if it was really true. (It is!)

But what about the emotional?

It was nothing that I expected, and everything I needed. Between the yoga poses we wrote, explored, and shared. Between writing we moved, laughed, and sang. We even had a hug fest and a dance party! We held each other up as we sat alongside one another, connecting at the most human of levels. It truly is a workshop that opens you up to see, feel, and understand yourself in new ways.

I have followed Jen on social media for about a year, perhaps less, maybe more. Even though I had heard about the workshops and read the glowing reviews, I still thought: “what could I possibly do that I haven’t already done?” (aka: all my aforementioned “work.”)

In my life, I have walked through my long tunnel filled with obstacles, suffering, and fear. I have turned over every stone and pebble along the way and fought hard to reclaim my life, create my life, and live my life; and I have come out the other side of that dark musty tube with a full and ever-expanding toolbox. So, I honestly didn’t expect too much. And yet…

And yet, it wasn’t necessarily something “new” that I learned, but rather a new way to look at that same thing, and thereby explore it differently. This led to understanding it differently and ultimately, embodying it differently. Embodying my truth differently, with more presence, joy, and VERVE. (Yes, I said verve. When was the last time you heard that word? Lol)

And that’s what Jen does: she reconnects you to your verve, your humanity, to humanity, in general. She creates a space in which it’s not only safe to be human, but celebrated. It’s a gift. Jen is a gift. She is walking her path with grace, love, and joy. And the joy is contagious!

When I find something that I feel is extraordinary, I have to share it. Jen is extraordinary, her workshop is extraordinary, and the fellow attendees are extraordinary, no doubt because of who Jen attracts and supports by simply showing up in life.

To Jen, my immense thanks and deep gratitude for showing up, walking your path, and sharing that presence with those around you. You are the real deal. It was a gift and a pleasure to share that space and time with you. I look forward to our paths crossing again.

To learn more about Jen, please visit her website at jenniferpastiloff.com and check her out on social media, where she posts regularly.

FINAL NOTE: This is important. Jen is expanding her workshop to reach the younger generation of girls. Can you imagine how different your life would have been as an adult if someone had taught you as a teenager to know you are enough, just as you are? Jen is doing that. You can tell it’s her passion. So, if you have or know any girls ages 13+ near Princeton, NJ and 16+ in NYC who could use this experience and learn at a young age that they are enough, check out Jen’s upcoming workshops in September, titled ‘Girl Power: You Are Enough.’

Just Be Yourself

The best and most supportive advice I’ve ever received has also been the hardest for me to achieve. Why? Because it was so simple and paradoxically complex.

Just be yourself.

What does that even mean?!?

Well, for me, it meant being open to the process. A process that is ongoing and has taken several years to get “jump-started.” Much like so many in show business that are classified as “overnight successes” – all the years of hard work and dedication that led up to that point don’t show once the spotlight (finally and luminously) hits them. So it is with authenticity, or being yourself.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. (Unless it’s a gestalt shift, which is possible, but a blog for another day.) Rather, it’s a process of slow, deliberate, and conscious awareness-raising and decision-making.

Recently, though, a dear friend said that awesomely supportive phrase to me again, and I heard it anew. I was asking him what he needed from me in terms of support. (This is common amongst mental health professionals – we’re somehow trained to ask about needs and clarify, clarify, clarify. It’s good for relationships, though sometimes can come across as clinical and/or sterile – or, gasp!, even annoying. But I digress.)

Anyhow, this friend was facing a challenge, and I asked, “What do you need from me? How can I best support you?”

His response?

“Just be yourself.”

At first, I balked, recoiled and tried to rephrase my question to get an answer I wanted. Repeatedly. And then it dawned on me:

Being myself is all I’m ever capable of, and all I’ll ever need to be.
And that’s more than enough, whatever “myself” is.

And I think that, right there, is my spotlight of “overnight success.” It was like finding that last puzzle piece that had fallen under the table. You knew it was there, and the puzzle was basically finished, but the nagging feeling from that missing piece doesn’t leave until it’s put in place.

Years of searching for the absent piece (processing, learning, remembering, unlearning, reading, listening, talking, sharing, growing, crying, changing, fearing, laughing, sorting, and every other “ing” you can think of) have resulted in my finally being able to receive the best advice I’ve ever been given…and embody it! Woo-hoo!

So, my friends, it really is that simple, and it really was that deliciously complicated. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The best paths are the ones we’ve worked for, the ones we carve ourselves – for they are the most lasting, treasured walkways. (Plus, we know them so well it’s easier to find our way back if when we get lost again.)