When I tell you hundreds of books cross my desk each year, I mean it. Staff editors at wellness publications get review copies and manuscripts—most selling self-love, proffering radical happiness, and promising to be life changing—every single day. Few get read in entirety. None have ever actually impacted my life in any significant way—until now.
I started reading Jennifer Pastiloff’s On Being Human one particularly lonely weekend when my friends were partying in an HGTV house we’d rented for a birthday. Instead of reveling in the Rocky Mountains, I was in the fetal position thinking about dying—because endometriosis is murder, and that’s another story. I’d brought home a review copy of Pastiloff’s memoir simply because I’d recognized her name from Instagram. Or maybe it was because magic is real and the Universe was offering me an olive branch. I kind of like not knowing.
Pastiloff’s book brilliantly details her own triumph over anorexia and selfhatred fueled by crippling depression—and the similar transformations of women in her retreats and workshops that she bears witness to as some kind of anomalous yoga teacher/sisterhood guru. Suddenly I was cutting up Post Its to mark passages, highlighting words I needed to hear and keep hearing, and texting iPhone photos of paragraphs to friends whose very own souls also seemed to be leaping offthe pages of a manifesto relishing imperfection and shushing self-doubt. I felt a surge of cosmic connection—of being seen by a stranger. So I did something bold and unusual and a little bit scary. I messaged Jen and told her how I felt like she was speaking directly to me. That I felt a little silly telling her that at all, but fuck it, right? That I’d love to attend, and write about, her On Being Human retreat in France in May. And could she offer a reduced media rate or host a member of the press—a.k.a. me?
A few months later, as I tried to put the beauty and absurdity of her retreat on paper—seven days spent workshopping and laughing and dancing and stargazing and holding hands and hearts at a dreamy 17th-century chateau with some of the most dazzling people I’ve ever met—I couldn’t help thinking: This book actually changed my life.
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