I’ll be honest with you: the first time I came across Jen Pastiloff was online, and the main thing that drew me to her was her foul mouth. Now, I know this is shallow. A Bad Yogi’s fondness for someone who says “f*ck” a lot in a humorous way is about as flattering as a frat boy staring at your boobs while you try to take his order at Olive Garden. Like, *eyeroll*… “of COURSE you’d be interested because of THAT!”
My respect for her definitely goes beyond her boobs though. Or, I mean, her cursing. Wait, where was I going with this again?!
Oh yes! Now we’re back on track! What I’m trying to say is that Jen is a gem in a world full of people who are eager to BS with their need to “inspire” and wow you with their fancy yoga poses. Yes, she’s a yoga teacher. But more than that, she’s a writer, and oh by the way, the creator of The Manifestation Workshop that dabbles in yoga, dives in to writing and sharing out loud, and encourages outbursts of spontaneous dancing. She says herself that you don’t need to be a good yogi or a good writer to attend, just a human being with a body. You guys know more than anyone how tough it is to find people who truly try to keep it real, and I can promise you that Jen is one of few.
So, grab a glass of wine and let’s have a little chit-chat!
1. Describe who you are and “what you do” in 3 sentences or less.
My fave is what Cheryl Strayed said to me, “You are a conduit of awakenings.” I’m a truth-teller, a fierce listener (despite being almost completely deaf), a way-maker, bullshit-eliminator, teacher and writer. I lead a workshop all around the world that I made up which is all about being human: messy and beautiful.
2. What’s the best and worst thing about your work?
Best thing is bearing witness to the stories of others: their pain, their triumphs, their humanness. The worst: the schedule, I suppose. I am so busy and then the most unbusy human on the planet. It doesn’t make for a great “balancing act.”
3. It’s almost impossible to completely eliminate social media from our lives nowadays, especially if you have a loyal following. How do you embrace social media without being totally sucked in?
I get sucked in but I try and keep it real. I am not into posting fancy yoga poses or inspirational quotes, and not to knock those who do, it’s just not my thing. I use it in the same way I lead my workshops and run my literary magazine — “The Manifest-Station”— as a way to create community, share our humanity and yes, sell out my workshops so I can pay my rent. I won’t lie about that. I use it but obviously am still learning because my “following” (eww, barf, I hate that expression) is still fairly smallish.
4. On that note, do you ever have moments where you feel like you should “fake it” or keep up appearances for your community?
Not anymore. Nope. Nopeville. Should is an asshole. Haven’t you seen my series called “Don’t be an asshole?” 😉
5. Are you ever insecure?
Is the sky blue? Daily.
6. How do you snap yourself out of it? Do you have a ritual that brings you back to the reality of your badassery? 😉
My husband helps me a lot as do my friends. Exercising helps me. And I don’t necessarily mean yoga. I mean shaking my ass or getting my cardio on. Gets me out of my head.
7. What’s your personal measure of success?
My mission statement in life and in my work is this: When I get to the end of my life and ask one final, “What have I done?” Let my answer be : ‘I have done love.’” So it would be that. Love. I ask myself every day, Did I do love today? Love in. Love out. Hell, I would love to have more money, especially with a baby on the way, but that doesn’t determine shit as far as success goes. To me at least. I am sure if you ask someone with a more corporate job their answer would vary but hey, my life is not traditional or “normal”, if such a thing exists. (PS: it doesn’t.)
8. In your career and life, what’s been your greatest asset? And, if you care to share, your greatest hindrance? How did you overcome it?
Greatest asset is my way with people. A gift I have had since God knows when- birth? I suck at many many things but I will be damned if I don’t have some magical gift when it comes to people and, as the yogis are prone to say, “holding space.” I would also weirdly say my hearing loss because it has forced me to listen in a whole new way– with my heart. Greatest hindrance is my depression. I take anti-depressants but am weaning off due to pregnancy.
9. Which is true about you: usually you follow your heart, or usually you follow your logic?
What is logic?
10. If there was absolutely NO way for you to make any living doing what you do now, what else would you do?
Well, I waited tables at the same spot for 13.5 years in LA. Knowing me, I would still be there. But no really, I would be writing and busting my ass to somehow get paid for it.
11. You’ve been really open about your experience with anxiety and how it’s affected you. What’s the biggest lesson you learned about how to manage those feelings? Any advice for others who are currently in that place?
I made a personal and tough decision to share openly. That may not be the path for everyone. It was for me. The feeling of, “Oh, I am not as alone as I thought I was,” is a lifeboat when you are drowning. I think I gave that lifeboat to a lot of folks, and conversely, they gave it to me. The biggest lesson is DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU. If you need meds, so be it. See a professional and choose what is the right path for you. No one else can tell us what is best for us. That has been a huge lesson for me, especially as someone who is notorious in her yearning for others to make decisions for her.
12. Alright, just for fun: All food is “health food” and there’s no such thing as allergies and intolerances. What do you eat every day of your life?
Cheese. Salt and vinegar chips. Wine. Pizza. Fries dipped in mayo. More cheese. More pizza. Ice cream.
13. Any final words?!
I resonate with your site because you don’t take yourself too seriously. In my book, that is the biggest turn on. Life is too short. What do I know of this? My beloved dad died at 38. That’s what I know. Life is too short to be an asshole. To walk around believing that we aren’t enough. To not do what makes our hearts sing. Life isn’t perfect- you can’t always find a way to make money doing what makes your heart sing- but you can have fun along the way, you can learn what excites you and who you are, you can make this journey meaningful. You can remember that your self worth is not equivalent to how many instagram followers you have, your weight or your handstand. Do love. That’s it. Do love and don’t be an asshole.
Over to you: Alright, can we all just agree that “Life is too short to be an asshole.”?! I think any reminder we can get to stay true to who we really are and what WE truly WANT to do is important to have. Any other takeaways you’d like to share?