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Beloved Positively Positive Tribe,

I just returned from leading my Manifestation New Year’s Retreat, and Martha Meyer Barantovich, who attended the retreat, wrote this gorgeous piece about her experience. I felt I had to share it here with you all. Thank you, Martha.

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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 forty-seventh birthday and trying to express in a circle what it means to be at a Manifestation retreat (where people come to “Make Sh*t 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 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, 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—forty 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 to draw toward ourselves 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 onto 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 one-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 me 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 thirty of my forty-five years, I was safe and protected and ok. And then, just like that, I wasn’t. And how I made it to my forty-seventh 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 I, II, III, breathe, sigh, inhale, hands to prayer, repeat the mantra, six 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?

I am.

What people say I am: giving, kind, joyful, caring, a good teacher, friendly, fun.

What I sayfat, 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 that I never taken 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. (Click to Tweet!)

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 rollercoaster 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 possibly do anymore of this? How can I not? 

Begin Again.

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.
  • Laugh.
  • 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.
  • Dance.
  • Sing.
  • Write.
  • 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 and join a room full of strangers with sh*t 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 


Jen will be leading a Manifestation Writing/Yoga retreat at Kripalu Center in Massachusetts in February 2014 as well as in Costa Rica at the end of March and her annual retreat to Tuscany in July 2014. She travels around the country leading her signature Manifestation Workshops. Check out her site jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings.

*Image courtesy of Simplereminders.com