On Being Human

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Dec 2019

Member Reviews

I had never heard of Jennifer Pastiloff before reading this book, but wow, what an incredible story she has. In her beautifully written memoir, she shares everything about her life from experiencing the tragic loss of her father, to a debilitating eating disorder, to how she hid her hearing loss for years. She writes with candor, humor and humility and offers an uplifting, fresh perspective on human nature while avoiding being "preachy". This could have easily veered off into the self-help arena but thankfully, Pastiloff doesn't go there. Instead, she offers a deeply personal, relatable, uplifting memoir that resonates deeply.
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ON BEING HUMAN by Jennifer Pastiloff is an inspiring memoir geared to adults and filled with motivational ideas from her well-liked yoga workshops. She conveys her thoughts with a very personal, upbeat tone in almost three dozen chapters with titles like "Rewrite Your Story," "Doing and Undoing Pain," "All Very Normal," and "I Got You." Pastiloff is nearly deaf but writes about the importance of listening deeply and affirming others. Her chapters do tend to jump around a bit, and the stories of her life experience will likely appeal more to her middle-aged peers, as perhaps summarized best by the Publishers Weekly review: "Readers feeling stuck in their lives will devour this inspiring story of a woman finding her way."  Her book is subtitled "A Memoir of Waking Up, Living Real, and Listening Hard," and Pastiloff says, "At the end of my life, when I say one final What have I done?, let my answer be, I have done love."
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I'm got about 15% into this one and was ambivalent about the story and the writing. It was choppy at times, jumping between the past and present so much that I would have to reread what I'd read in the correct context once I realized it was a different timeline. It was repetitive, and honestly, because I'm also listening to More Than Enough (see above) at the same time, I realized Welteroth's story so much more compelling.
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Jennifer Pastiloff.  Great writer.  For what it is, a great self help book for people that don't really like self help books.  Hahaha loved it!
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On Being Human is the best title ever, and before this book, I had never heard of Jennifer Pastiloff...but the cover totally sold me. This book is primarily a memoir of Pastiloff's life from childhood to present. She did not have an easy road and parts of this book were incredibly difficult to read but I so appreciated her honesty and her ability to share in such a raw and open way.

I always love memoirs and think sharing our stories is SO important, even when they are not totally relatable to us at first glance. I ended up connected so much with Pastiloff and found myself nodding along as I read. She has so much insight and wisdom but in a completely approachable manner. 

I felt like she was talking to me, not down to me with her writing. And while she now leads retreats all over the world, it felt like I was just talking to a friend who happened to be introspective but also totally real. Pastiloff writes about how we talk down to ourselves and believe our own bullshit stories which can make us think we are not good enough. 

Many people have tried to share this message before but it has never come across like this to me..maybe because they felt they have conquered it? Pastifloff it is relatable because this is something that is a lifelong struggle, no matter the hurdles you face and accomplishments you "achieve". She has this humility about her that made this different than anything I have read before. 

I especially appreciated her sections on her struggles with her mental health. While it isn't exactly a "self-help" book I found so many thought-provoking lines that I kept underlining throughout. 

 "Depression is a response to past loss, and anxiety is a response to future loss."

“There will always be the one who doesn't like you, the one who says, 'No, you should not do this, Yes, you suck.' And we always always have two choices: keep going or shut down.” 

Sometimes her honestly made me a bit uncomfortable, but I think that is what made this book so powerful.  I can't put my finger on it as it took me a bit to get into the book and I wasn't sure about for it a while but now that I am finished, I can't stop thinking about it. She has a unique ability to share in a way that made me think about my own choices and reactions in my life as well and it is a book I won't forget as a reader. 

Thank you to NetGalley and Dutton for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Everyone should read this book. Jennifer Pastiloff’s journey offer readers insights into life and the human experience that we all need to hear and a connection that we all should reach out and embrace. This is mandatory reading for being human. Beautiful read! (Make sure you have a box of tissues.)
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Thank you to Penguin Group Dutton for providing me with a copy of Jennifer Pastiloff’s memoir, On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking Up, Living Real, and Listening Hard, in exchange for an honest review.

Jennifer Pastiloff has built an incredible life. She is in a loving marriage, has a beautiful child, and has created a successful career as an inspirational leader of life changing yoga retreats. However, the road to Pastiloff’s currently life was bumpy.

Pastiloff had a tumultuous childhood, which included the death of her father. She suffered from crippling self-doubt and anorexia. Her self-image issues played a role in her refusal to seek medical attention for her progressive hearing loss, an issue that caused her many years of social pain, excluding her from fully participating in conversations and feeling like people viewed her as less intelligent. She meandered through her twenties/early thirties, engaging in self-destructive activities and unable to figure out her true career path or to find a good romantic partner. 

On Being Human is part memoir and part self-help book, as Pastiloff gives tips and exercises gleaned from her popular workshops for reader to try at home. Pastiloff is relatable and raw. I related to her sense of feeling lost in her twenties/early thirties. She dropped out of college and spent over a decade working as a server at a cafe. I was in a similar situation and I could relate to knowing that you have skills and dreams, but also not quite knowing how to focus on a career path. The sense of knowing that there is so much more out there for you, but also not knowing how to grab it. In a culture where we value the traditional education/career path, it can be very difficult for people who do not stick to that mold. Pastiloff filled me with encouragement and hope. I would definitely recommend On Being Human, to anyone who is feeling a little lost.

Another aspect of Pastiloff’s memoir is the idea of following your gut or inner voice. Pastiloff did not have dreams of being a yoga instructor or a motivational coach, but she listened to her intuition when the opportunities presented themselves, she took them. The first time she met her would-be husband, she wasn’t interested in him, but a decade later, her gut told her to pursue the relationship. It’s part trusting yourself and part timing, as life is ever evolving and sometimes you might need the time to grow, in order to be ready to accept an opportunity. Pastiloff in her early twenties was not ready to accept certain things and she needed the time to grow. Rather than beating herself up over these missed years, she looks at them as a time needed to develop into the person she is today. 

Pastiloff experienced massive hearing loss, a condition that slowly worsened over many years. Finally, she realized that she needed to use a hearing aid, something that she had been embarrassed about to the point of choosing to miss out on hearing. It was a vanity issue. When she finally conceded to needing the hearing aids, she realized that she could not afford them. However, Pastiloff had built a community of friends and clients who wanted to help her purchase them. This community came through with several other financial emergencies. My take-away is if you show enough love to other people, especially giving it freely with no expectations, often this love will come back to you in abundance. I’ve seen this happen in my own life and in the lives of those around me. Pastiloff’s younger adult years were spent in such fear of judgement, that when she was able to push that aside, she saw the blessing of allowing other people to be part of her life. We often hear that it “takes a village” to raise a child, but I think that it applies to everyone. We all need help sometimes. We need a sense of belonging to a community. 

On Being Human is a wonderful reminder of the power of humanity and of embracing life. I highly recommend it for anyone who needs a bit of a boost. I’d love to attend one of Pastiloff’s workshops and to see how her energy in person, compares to the page. It is radiant in her memoir!
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I can not say enough good things about this book! Want to find a deeper meaning in life? Want to come to terms on what really matters? Want to be inspired? Want to read a good memoir that reads like a novel? Then this is your book. This book is chocked full of inspiring tips on life, descriptive language, and an excellent story line. I would give this book 10 stars if I could!
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Have you ever talked to a book? Not like yelling at a character or laughing at something, but that feeling that what you are experiencing is actually a conversation, rather than a story? That’s what "On Being Human" was for me. I felt like I was sitting with Jen Pastiloff and chatting over a couple glasses of wine. And by “chatting,” I mean Jen Pastiloff looking directly into my soul and saying all the things I have needed and wanted to hear about life, giving me all the solidarity and recognition I need as a person, and the validation one usually gets only when a true friend listens to you. This book brought me tears several times, and not in a sad way. It was BEAUTY. This was such a singular literary experience, it’s hard to describe beyond feeling utterly altered in a positive, empathetic way.

Pastiloff is best known for her workshops and retreats, also called On Being Human, all over the world which combine yoga, writing, community, and often wine (which, I was sold already, but come on, that’s all the things I use to relax smushed together into one getaway). In these workshops, people from around the world come together to learn about Beauty Hunting, quieting their Inner Asshole, and rewriting their Bullshit Stories. Harsh language? I suppose, but in Pastiloff’s context—trust me—it’s magically appropriate. She doesn’t sugarcoat life’s crap, not yours and not her own.

At the heart of this text, is Pastiloff’s personal story. She pulls no punches discussing death, her anorexia, her journey through depression and anxiety. This is clearly memoir, but what sets it apart from the stories we hear from celebrities or political figures is that the story isn’t just about her; Jen Pastiloff’s story is about everyone whose experience is even remotely similar. I, personally, have never had an eating disorder or dealt with the death of a close loved one, but depression? Oh yes. Anxiety? Been there, done that, got the tee shirt AND the commemorative cup! You’re not being talked down to. Pastiloff isn’t talking to you from the other side of some impassable bridge. She’s walking with you through her story and your own. It’s more like she’s sharing her experience so you don’t have to feel so alone in yours. 

This book is a gift to anyone who reads it. It’s the only book that has ever made me tear up just THINKING about how much it affected me and how much I needed it in my life. Get this book. Get multiple copies of this book to give away to loved ones. Jen Pastiloff coined the phrase Beauty Hunting and I genuinely think this is one case where the hunter becoming the hunted is a good thing. I found so much beauty in this book, it actually (as trite as it sounds) helped me find a little more beauty in myself.
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This book is so raw and real, and I loved it so much. Jennifer does a really good job at eliciting emotions through her experiences and her stories from losing her dad, to becoming a yoga instructor. She was so introspective, and I really related, and resonated with her self-destructive criticisms but at the same time, the way that she lifted herself back up. this book is definitely one that is hard to put down, as this is truly a book about overcoming yourself, your inner self, and being a person to the capability that you can. It's topics of depression, body dysmorphia, loss of listening, and way more. 

I am excited to read more o Jen' work.
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Stunning, perfect, messy, and all-around wonderful.

I wasn't familiar with Pastiloff's work before reading the book. I'm sort of horrified by that (WHAT OTHER WONDERFUL THINGS AM I MISSING?!) but it gave me the chance to read this with an open, empty mind. 

Now that I'm finished, I want to buy copies of On Being Human and scatter them around like seeds. 

It's a memoir, it's self-help, it's help-yourself, it's sad, it's funny, it's inspiring. It's also about the power of yoga, and though I haven't done a downward dog in fifteen years this made me want to locate my lost sticky purple mat and strike a warrior pose. 

On Being Human is Pastiloff's story but it's my story too. It's a story about stories, especially the ones we tell ourselves that are, in Pastiloff's words, "bullshit."
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There's so much I want to say about this book that I don't really know where to begin. I had never heard of Jen Pastiloff before I picked up this book. I picked it because the title (and the cover) spoke to me.

This book is mostly a memoir of the author as she goes through her life's journey and then there are many sections that could be qualified as self-help through the realizations she's sharing along the way. But the whole time it's about her and it's not lecturing you as if she knows what's right for you. So in that way, it's not really self-help :)

The book starts when the author is really young and loses her dad at a young age which has a profound impact on her life. The family then moves back an forth from California to New Jersey a few times and then she moves to the Los Angeles area and is a waitress there for a long long time before she finds yoga and love and herself and starts running retreats all over the world.

The writing is honest, raw, introspective, unvarnished in the most beautiful way. At times it pained me to read how she was self-destructing so much and to read her pain. But then I was also cheering for her and I took so much of the journey along with her because the writing is so real and you come to care for her so much.

There was much I underlined here, here are just a few:

"The idea was this: I can give this away, this love, I do not have to keep it here in the dark, I can give it away and create more, even if I don't remember what it feels like to be loved. I can create it."

I loved this. The giving it away and creating more. 

"This was a moment my sister lived with me where we were truly happy so I tacked it on the wall above my desk to remind me that nothing is ever one thing, that although there were moments where we hated each other and couldn't stand living together, there were also times like this."

This is so true. I feel this so much of the time, especially with people I love.

"Depression is a response to past loss, and anxiety is a response to future loss."

For some reason, I had never thought of this, in this way, before. This helps reframe somethings for me.

"We can only be where we are."

Obvious maybe but hard to keep remembering this.

"I'm worthy to receive."

I loved this because it's not just about being worthy but about being worthy to receive. Loved this sentiment.

"There will always be the one who doesn't like you, the one who says, No, you should not do this, Yes, you suck. And we always always have two choices: keep going or shut down."

Ain't that the truth. Who's going to win? The one?

"I have no idea who she is or was or what she's ever done or might do, but my point is, life's pretty filled up with all of us walking around telling stories about each other and to each other and about ourselves."

This also made me stop and think. It's so true that we have our own stories about ourselves, about others, the stories we share. On and on. There's so much noise. Who knows what the truth is.

"Instead of getting caught up in who doesn't like you, get caught up in who does. It's much more interesting."

i loved this idea. hard as it may be to implement.

'"No one is going to give me a fucking medal," I yelled into the phone as if she were the deaf one. "I have to give myself one." There is was. My whole life I had been waiting for permission, waiting to be discovered, waiting to be acknowledged, chosen, given permission to take up space. All of my life I had been waiting for someone to tell me I was enough. 

The lady who left my retreat gave me a gift. She gifted me with the revelation that you have to do all the ard work of loving yourself yourself. In that moment in the kitchen with those ladies and the wine and the chocolate ganache, I finally realized that no one was ever going to save me. No one was ever going to give me permission to be me. I had to do it.'

And this. So much this. Not waiting. Giving permission. I have to do it.

If any of this resonates with you, I highly recommend this book, it will stay with me quite a while. I'm grateful for people who share their stories honestly. Even though this author and I have so little in common in our lives/histories, there is still so much I share with her and so much I've learned from her journey and her openness.

Thank you to netgalley and duttonbooks for the advanced copy in return for an honest review.
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