How do you start your day?
Well, it used to be with about 3 cups of coffee but I recently did a cleanse with my sister, who is a health coach—Rachel Pastiloff) and now I start with hot water with lemon. Once in a while I will still have a coffee but it makes me feel a little crazy these days. I then get to work on uploading the essays for the day on my site The Manifest-Station. 3 days a week I teach yoga at 7 a.m. and that, truthfully, is my favorite because it forces me out of the house. Otherwise, I often get sucked into the vortex of the interwebs.
What do you do when you are overwhelmed or stressed?
Drink wine. Ha, just kidding. Kind of. Mostly I try to breathe. I exercise and watch shows on Netflix while I do the elliptical. I allow my husband to be the voice of reason, which he always is. I step away from the computer. I put down the caffeine. I write JB on my hand, which means “Just breathe,” because, you know, sometimes just that reminder is enough.
What gives you the feeling of true bliss within?
When I am leading my Manifestation Workshop: On Being Human or my Girl Power: You Are Enough. I feel connected, alive, electric, present, on purpose. Also, when I have written something. Not always during the process of writing but when I finish, and I feel proud of it. When I am creating something.
What are you currently reading?
Big Magic. Elizabeth Gilbert sent me an advanced copy. The Small Backs of Children by the amazing Lidia Yuknavitch (who I have the good fortune to lead The Writing & The Body Retreat with in Ojai, Calif.) and The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld.
What are you listening to right now?
White noise. I am on a plane, as I so often am. I have profound hearing loss as well as tinnitus so the white noise cancels it out.
What is your go-to simple recipe?
Ha! Um, my hubby does most of the cooking. But, I’d say—kelp noodles with spinach and arugula, dried cherries, cayenne pepper, olive oil, pink salt, turmeric, and salmon on top.
What are some simple things you do for self-care?
I eat very well. (Apparently, because Whole Foods and Co-Op have all my money. ☺ ) I say no when I want to. (Most of the time.) I sleep. A lot. I exercise. I do not deny myself things (after years of being a severe anorexic, this is a huge deal.) I don’t feel the need to be booked every second of the day. I sit on the sofa and watch Parenthood. I have a cocktail or (two.) I laugh my tush off. I take walks to watch the sunset as often as I can with my husband. I turn my phone off (being addicted, this is not always easy.) I practice yoga (although I wish I did it more.) I get bodywork when I can, as well as acupuncture. I use as many natural products as I can (make-up, deodorant; my favorite obsession these days is Piperwai natural deodorant—is it weird that I just want to keep smelling myself after I put it on?). I dream big. That’s self-care to me. I allow myself to dream big things for myself and my life. I tell the truth about struggling with severe depression, which is in itself a form of self-care because hiding who you are is exhausting. And boring.
What does nourishment look like to you?
It looks like eating when you are hungry. Drinking water but hey, a couple glasses of wine now and again, that’s nourishing for the soul. At least my soul. It looks like eating foods that are not processed or filled with chemicals or GMOs. It looks like finding (as best as you can) the balance between work and play. It looks like cutting back on sugar (which I did with that cleanse I did and which was so hard. Can you say ADDICT?) But it also looks like having that gelato when you are in Tuscany (as I will be very soon while I lead my retreat) because duh, you’re in Tuscany. It looks like honoring your body and your whole self.
How do you make space for play?
I travel for a living (leading my workshops all around the world) so I book in an extra day or week or whatever I can to explore and eat and observe the culture. Or simply relax. I have no issue with relaxing. I am not an A type personality. (I could probably do with being just a wee bit more but hey, I am what I am. Like a Z type. If that’s a thing.) I read for pleasure as well as work (I am a writer and run a online magazine so it’s easy to just get caught up in “work.”) As I said earlier, I do not overbook my schedule with “plans.” I go with the flow. I am spontaneous and adventurous and that usually leads to some serious play. I talk to people. I pay attention. I remain curious. Always.
What are some favorite mantras you cling to?
I say “I am safe” to myself every morning because that’s my personal struggle. Feeling safe in life. Having lost my father at such a young age, I spent my life feeling unsafe, so I lie in bed and chant that to myself over and over.
“Get over yourself,” and “Don’t be an asshole.” Both of these help me when I am not being my best self, when I am complaining, forgetting how privileged I really am, or when I say things like, “Oh, writing is sooooo hard.” It helps me not take myself so seriously and that is perhaps one of the most important things as humans. We simply do not need to take ourselves so seriously. In fact, the pilot of this flight is singing right now. Being nearly deaf, I can’t hear him, but I can bet he does not take himself too seriously. I like that.
“I have done love.” It’s a quote of mine. “At the end of my life, when I ask one final, “What have I done?” let my answer be: I have done love.
Please share some words of wisdom you’ve learned as a direct result of soulful and embodied living.
“It’s the things that we know FOR SURE, that just ain’t so, that get us into trouble.”—Wayne Dyer.
You are worth it. Tattoo that on your brain. Seriously. The world starts to respond when we believe that about ourselves. It doesn’t always look like we thought it would, but shifts begin to take place when we start to realize and acknowledge our self-worth.
Getting told no does not mean you suck. I recently finished my book proposal only to realize that it didn’t work—my agent asked me to redo it. The same day I got a rejection letter for what I thought was the best essay I had ever written. Guess what? I better take a few minutes, allow myself to be disappointed, then buck up and get writing. If we believed that we sucked every time that someone told us no, we’d never write books or cook meatballs or go on dates or have babies.
Jen is a writer living on an airplane. Her work has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Modern Loss, Salon, among others. Jen’s leading her signature retreats to Ojai, California a few times a year and she and bestselling author Emily Rapp will be leading their 3rd writing retreat to Vermont in October 2015. She is also leading a Writing + The Body retreat with author Lidia Yuknavitch as well in September 2015. She has two Tuscany retreats in 2015 (summer and fall) which can be booked by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or clicking here.