Being a dork won't kill you

Being a dork won't kill your humanness but being an asshole will. 

Last fall, I signed up and prepaid for a yoga/writing workshop named "Manifestation: On Being Human" with Jennifer Pastiloff at Bella Prana Studio in Tampa. After following Jennifer's blog for a few months, I couldn't believe my luck. She was coming to a city near me!

You just have to be a human.

However, given my need to watch expenses carefully and also because I was unsure what to expect, I hesitated to register. I like to be prepared. (Read, I like to control my vulnerability). The session description said there would be yoga (but you don't have to know yoga), and writing (but you don't have to be a writer). You just have to be a human. 

I wondered, "What does that mean?" What activities would we be doing? Would I have to talk in front of others or small groups? Would I have to share stuff? Should I get there early to ensure a back row spot? I thought ahead about what I would or wouldn't share. (Ha! That didn't work out so well.) Would I come home with new and inspiring meme's to tack on my dream board? 

Jennifer assures us looking like a dork won't kill you.

There is no hiding at this workshop. You might feel as though you want to die, but Jennifer assures us that looking like a dork won't kill you. And if you laugh at yourself while looking like a dork, well, all the better. 

Through varied pacing and well-timed human activities of standing, sitting, breathing, writing, hugging, singing, dancing, writing some more, breathing om's, listening to and sharing words and stories, Jennifer creates space for every participant to be seen and witnessed in the most loving manner. 

"Look how bold one gets when one is sure of being loved," she says.

Jennifer tenderly, yet fiercely, showed us our broken parts and then let us put ourselves back together again, by recognizing how we all share the same fears that make us human. Like a warm and gently applied salve, we glue ourselves together with her and our love. "Look how bold one gets when one is sure of being loved," she says. 

I try to remember to use "dadirri", mentioned in a previous post, to prevent my thoughts from anticipating what I'll say. I'll just dork it out like everyone else when my turn comes. The vulnerability I experienced felt more like a breakthrough than a breakdown. Although it is arguable that a sobbing snot fest is a breakdown of sorts. If nothing else, my nasal passages were squeaky clean and I could breathe again, literally and figuratively.

These are the meme's that strike at our human core and will stick to my vision board.

Jennifer Pastiloff's equanimity is a treasure to experience. Her ability to create, in a matter of minutes, a safe place where we can lean on each other is extraordinary and is one of the few times I've experienced this depth of support. Her "how do I serve?" mantra is unshakable. Her "don't be an asshole" phrasing reminding us to insert a pause before we go flapping our mouths. These are the meme's that strike at our human core and will stick to my vision board. 

My favorite activity of the afternoon, set to a rousing tune, was a combination down dog-knee hug-kick-shout thingy. Why? Because I experienced an intense "I'm strong" sense of empowerment. Mingling my inner dork with enough balance not to fall onto the next mat, I put thinking on hold and understood what being in your body means. Huh.

Still odd and a bit awkward from having just finished a half-day of being a snotty dork but by wrestling my body, feelings, and words, I now know I can be a better human. Now I get it! I felt new. Renewed.  

At the end of the workshop, I found myself longing for a social hour with these souls who had just given so much of themselves. How might I continue the connection with more than the few I exchanged contact information? Well, for one, write this post and hope some find me. Two, buy The Brave Sparrow "I have done love" bracelet (Jennifer's quote) to nudge me every day. Three, keep sharing my vulnerabilities and be brave-hearted. 

As I went to purchase the bracelet, I noted the irony I've been missing for so long. The smiley face coin purse pictured is my daughter's, which I now use.  I love knowing she carried this on her person. Now whether filling or emptying it, this little face will remind me to spend with more gratitude and less worry. This workshop was worth every penny. 

One more brick fell away from the wall around my heart.

The On Being Human workshop and Jennifer Pastiloff had done their work. One more brick fell away from the wall around my heart. 

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Do you know what it feels like to be in your body? To act from a place of deep love? To forgive yourself when you sometimes react before thinking?


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Monica Sword

Monica Sword is an aspiring author and artist living a deeply heartfelt life. Following the early death of three family members, including her daughter, she struggled to balance home and work life. Once she discovered how to apply her conscientious and high-achieving personality to honor her passions, be mindful of her emotional reactions and focus on self-care, she developed a creative mindset that produces her most meaningful life work. On her website,, Monica inspires and encourages others to honor their heart and soul in mindful ways.