Since I am now a few days from the extreme feelings of the past week I think I can write about it and convey all of the emotionally moving pieces involved. First I want to make those aware who may not know that my extreme disappointment I wrote about in this past Thursday morning’s blog “Dealing… Because Life Goes On Ya Know?” was apparently unfounded. The winner had not been announced as I previously thought! Jennifer Pastiloff, the woman who’s website offered the scholarship and also who runs the retreats, posted on Facebook late Thursday morning that she had more anonymous donors step up and she now had THREE scholarships to offer for her Yoga/Writers Retreat in Vermont next month. She stated there were 70 essays to review and choose three winners from, so she and her editors would be busy reading. My hope was restored that I could be one of the chosen three scholarship recipients and I went about my work day. Right before 4 pm when my workday was winding down I noticed a private message notification was flashing on my phone. I picked it up and there was a pm from Jennifer Pastiloff!
I gave an astonished gasp as I clicked on Facebook messenger with my heart pounding and hands shaking. My co-worker in my cubicle square was concerned and asked me what was happening. I couldn’t tell her because I didn’t know yet, but I told her I was checking on a private message from the woman offering scholarships to the Yoga/Writers Retreat. Jennifer’s message asked, “Do you live in Cali?”. I replied, “yes I do”. She replied, “Ok listen up. You’re coming to my New Years retreat. Can you? Your essay is amazing and your friends wrote in on your behalf.” I couldn’t seem to process what I was seeing for many reasons: (1) The retreat I wrote the essay for was in Vermont next month in October, (2) she said my essay was amazing, and (3) my FRIENDS wrote in on my behalf. My mind was still confused about what was happening, what she was saying. Now I was crying and my whole body was shaking. We started typing over each other (something I normally despise about messenger and texting). I replied: “where is it? In Cali?” (meaning the New Years retreat). She replied: “your one of the ones I want”. I replied: “Oh My GOD JENN!!!” She replied: “I decided to give away a New Years spot and realized it would be easier to get there. It’s over $800 to fly to Vermont.” I was still confused so I replied: “I want to come. Which one? New Years?” She replied “Ojai is a drive.”
It finally clicked for me. She was offering me a scholarship to her New Years Manifestation Yoga Retreat in Ojai CALIFORNIA! It seems she was so blown away by all the essays submitted that in addition to awarding 3 spots for the Vermont retreat, she decided to offer one to her New Years retreat in Ojai. The website was always clear that the scholarship did not cover the cost for transportation and she knew the airfare to Vermont from Cali was over $800, but the Ojai retreat was one I could drive to. I managed to type “YES YES YES TO OJAI!” (It’s a Pastiloff thing, what are you saying yes to in your life). I also typed “I LOVE YOU SOOO MUCH! THANK YOU, THANK YOU.” She replied: “look at that. I love you.”
That’s when I lost it at work. I was laughing, crying and shaking. Eventually, I calmed down. I finished up at work and when I got into my car to check my phone, Jenn had posted a public announcement on Facebook about me winning the Ojai New Years Retreat, about how my friends, unbeknownst to me, wrote in on my behalf and that she would be publishing my essay soon. Since I was tagged in her post, all of my friends and family saw it as well. Plus Jennifer’s community of beauty hunting tribe. They all sent messages of congratulations and encouragement. This was the first and biggest emotionally moving piece. Oh but wait, there were a few more.
I figured out at least one of my friends who had contacted Jenn because she is my personal sounding board when I’m unsure about my blogs. I’d read my essay to her and she loved it. I called her on the way home to tell her I’d won and how I found out. Then I asked her about writing into Jenn on my behalf. She confessed that she was one of the friends. She had no idea there was someone else. But here’s the kicker. I started my essay Sunday, Sept. 6th, finished it Monday, Sept. 7th and submitted it Tuesday, Sept. 8th. The deadline for submission was Sept. 9th. My friend sent her email into Jennifer Pastiloff on August 25th, the day it was announced on Facebook. A full two weeks before I started my essay, before knowing if I’d even submit one. Her faith and love in me and my writing stunned and touched me.
I went into work the next day Friday flying high. Other co-workers were slowly finding out about my scholarship and they were happy for me. I was heading upstairs to the breakroom with a very good friend at work Lydia. We ran into another friend Corie, who had seen the Facebook announcement yesterday and congratulated me on there. But she mentioned it again face to face. She looked at Lydia and confessed they had already planned to collect money and fundraise among my office friends to help pay for my airfare to Vermont. They’d approached everyone earlier in the week before any winners were announced. I was stunned once again. However, since it’s in Ojai California where I can drive, there was no need. I wondered, how much can a heart and soul take of such love, faith, and support?
Friday afternoon I received a private message of another sort. My second cousin, the granddaughter of one of my aunts referred to in my blog “The Queens From Whence I Came” had devastating news. One of my beloved Queens was given a horrible prognosis about her health. Something malignant that had spread and is incurable. Once again I was having trouble processing what I was seeing, but my body knew. My eyes started tearing up and my heart started racing. FUCK is what I wrote in response. Then I asked if there was anything I could do and tried to provide some words meant for comfort and support for my young cousin. Speaking to the joy she brings just being herself, as an extension of her mom (my first cousin) and her Grandmom. My emotions took a nose dive for the rest of the work day. So much so that 20 minutes before my shift was over, I had to get away from my desk and cubicle. I went over to the far wall where two lovely co-workers sit without a surrounding cubicle, but it is walled from the rest of the department. It was quiet because the supervisor on that end and many of the co-workers leave at 3:30 pm. I sat down on the floor next to one of their desks and told them I just needed a quiet, safe place to breath. They paused and let me do that. Then I told them about my aunt’s prognosis. And the big bang of finding this news out on the heels of winning an essay scholarship. They were so kind and compassionate that I ended up talking about many things concerning my divine path in life of late. They both came over to hug me and encourage me.
Friday evening I stopped by my friend Dawny’s house to read the email she sent to Jennifer Pastiloff way back when the scholarship contest was first announced. It was beautiful and amazing. She starts out saying she is not a writer, but she has a heart full of love, then she goes on to tell Jennifer and the editors part of my story. It was moving and humbling to see in black in white just what someone you love thinks of you. I have no idea who the other friend or friends are that also contacted Jennifer. If it is God’s Will, I may know one day. But if you read my blog, please know how truly, deeply, profoundly I get by with a little help from my friends.