WHAT THE FUNDRAISING
EPISODE 4: Shame, Scarcity, and the Power of Sharing as Fundraisers with Jennifer Pastiloff
“I find that when we’re able to bring levity into humor into things, it is so helpful, perhaps the most helpful thing. Because it is so easy to take ourselves, too seriously.”
– Jennifer Pastiloff
In this episode of What the Fundraising Podcast…
I talk to the funny, unapologetic, and super authentic Jennifer Pastiloff. Jen is a yoga teacher, coach, and writer of the book On Being Human. She leads numerous worldwide workshops, retreats, and platforms to help people be their authentic selves. Jen says her thing is “humanness”: She harnesses the flawed, unpolished parts of ourselves to do real, shameless self-work.
In today’s episode, Jen shares her story, how she turned things around after COVID, and gives us a glimpse of her unique view on life. We also talked about how to quiet your inner a-hole, and how to keep an abundance mentality both in fundraising and in life in general. Join in this fresh, honest conversation, I promise Jen’s transparency and sense of humor are unmatched!
*FYI the episode is marked as explicit because the F* word and A* are used – listen at a time that is best for you.
Jen is a yoga teacher, coach, and writer of the book On Being Human. She leads numerous worldwide workshops, retreats, and platforms to help people be their authentic selves. Jen says her thing is “humanness”: embracing the flawed, unpolished parts of ourselves to do genuine, shameless, and human self-improvement.
While Jen’s coaching is not strictly fundraising-oriented, there is SO MUCH to learn from her. Something she said that I just absolutely loved is to have an abundance mentality by remembering one simple thing: There is A TON of wealth in the world. Don’t you or your organization deserve some of that immense prosperity? Heck yes!
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I teach nonprofit fundraisers to bring in more gifts from the RIGHT donors… so they can stop hounding people for money. Fundraising doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.
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Sophia’s Voice supports children and adults with disabilities, as well as caregivers and disability rights activists. We provide financial support for medical equipment (not covered by insurance), medical bills/debt, medication, medical appointments, respite, advocacy support, and various other medical-related expenses. We also raise awareness about the importance of healthcare for people with disabilities, fight to normalize facial differences and profound disabilities, and work to hold social media giants accountable for protecting people with facial differences and disabilities online.
Mallory: All right. Welcome everyone. I am so thrilled to be joined today by Jennifer Pastiloff. I am trying very hard not to completely fan girl out.
Jennifer: Wait, are you going to show a video at this too?
Mallory: Yeah. So they’re going to get to see us and I’m just so excited to be talking to you today. Your book On Being Human was a real life-changer for me and something I recommend to fundraisers constantly.
So I’m so honored that you’re taking this time today.
Jennifer: Thank you! It’s such an honor to be here and to be doing this. Thank you. Thank you. Even though I just burned my tongue off on my third cup of coffee.
Mallory: Do what you need to do.
Jennifer: There is nothing to do, that’s the terrible thing about biting your tongue or burning it. There is nothing to do.
Mallory: I know. You just wait for it to heal. But if you need some breaks…
Jennifer: Thank you.
Mallory: So Jen, I feel like I know you From following you and reading your books, but do you want to just give everyone a little intro.
Jennifer: Sure. Gosh, bio’s are always so awkward. Even before we started, I was like, “Are you going to read my bio? It’s so old and weird.”
Jennifer: And then I forget to tell people, so they read this… Whatever, let’s see! My name is Jen Pastiloff and I am a mom, my son just turned five. I am known for my listening, even though I’m deaf without my hearing aids.
I’m not capital D deaf. I wasn’t born deaf, it just progressively got worse along with my tinnitus. So now I can’t hear without them, I read lips. So as you can imagine, the pandemic masks were a real motherfucker, and I wanna apologize for cursing, but I read lips and technology has been a bit easier for me during the pandemic in fact because it streams right into my hearing aid. So yay for surprises and letting yourself be surprised.
I am a writer. There I just said it. I’m a coach, I work a lot with people to quiet their inner a-hole and let go of BS stories. And one of mine is, or was for a long time, “I’m not a real writer”. So it was nice that I was able to just say, “I’m a writer”.
I was a writer in college, and then I got sidetracked and took a semester off before my senior year, which turned into forever. I got a summer job at a Hollywood cafe that turned into 14 years and I was just, really stuck. I was a poster child for misery and somebody who hated their lives and complained all the time.
I found my way out through yoga, through teaching yoga. Then I came back to my writing and I married the two combined with my wacky personality, sense of humor and listening skills, and I created this thing that I do all around the world, the On Being Human Workshops. And then I wrote the book.
I’m a coach too! I coach people to allow for all the humanness. Someone recently asked me, what is my superpower like. “What’s your stick or your thing?”, and that’s it, really allowing for it all. That’s me, I’m here sharing my journey and I decided at some point I wouldn’t hide any longer because of shame.
It’s not that I tell everyone everything, not at all, but I don’t hide because of shame. So whatever it is, I’m transparent and with a sense of humor.
Mallory: I love that. When you say inner a-hole right, you talk about that a lot. What is that? For folks who are like, “What is that? How do I fight that thing?”
Jennifer: Inner asshole is that voice that said “You’re not a real writer”. The inner a-hole is a voice that tells us we’re not enough, it’s a scarcity mindset. What I used to think was that, like years ago, I was like “I’m going to kill it!”. I realized through living that not at all, but what I can do is quiet it because I would think I’d killed it and then I’d wake up and it was in bed with me again.
And I’m like, “I kicked you out of bed and here you are again!”. So I thought, “Okay, I’ll quiet it”. A more recent epiphany that I’ll be going in my next book and that I’m doing with my client is offering it compassion. It’s: I see you. I hear you. I get you and I don’t need you anymore.
I’m not denying it. I’m not being mean to it, but I’m just like, “I don’t need you anymore”. The inner asshole is the voice that tells us we’re not enough, or that we should stay small, or “Don’t open your mouth”, or “What will they think?”. It’s perhaps the voice of an outer a-hole that we adopted at some point and made our own.
Everyone has one, I believe. If they don’t, I’d love to have dinner with them. Reach out to me at jenniferpastiloff.com. I’ve gone through years of my life, where it ran the show and it’s a day-by-day practice, quieting it and not letting it be the boss of us.
Mallory: I love that. I say something similar to my clients all the time. I’m like just past the mic!
Jennifer: I liked that.
Mallory: Just pass the mic because I agree. I love that you said it like that because I think one of the things, when people try to get rid of whatever they call it, gremlin or the self-critic, and they’re like, “I’m going to get rid of it!”.
And then when they don’t, they feel like it’s just another thing that they failed about. And the inner a-hole is a real jerk about the fact that you haven’t been able to get rid of him too.
Look, you’re in a relationship with this thing. Sometimes it’s going to be louder. Sometimes it’s going to be quieter. When it’s loud, when it gets the microphone somehow, how do you just get it to say “I see you, you think you’re trying to protect me”.
Jennifer: You think! That’s the keyword, you think. And I don’t need you anymore.
Jennifer: Another thing I’ve been working on lately with myself and my coaching clients is finding the ridiculousness of it. A lot of times I’m like “Just say that out loud”. Recently I had a friend die by suicide and it really threw me and rattled me as it of course would.
I started to move too quickly, I dropped my phone a couple of times… all these things essentially that cost me money and frustration and time. And a very quick place I can go to is “See! Nothing ever works out for me!”. And there couldn’t be anything farther from the truth. So just say that out loud and be with the ridiculousness of it.
I find that when we’re able to bring levity into humor into things. It is so helpful, perhaps the most helpful thing.
Mallory: I totally agree.
Jennifer: Because it is so easy to take ourselves so seriously.
Mallory: Yeah. I find my inner a-hole, it’s all black and white. It’s like “This thing is definitely the worst thing you could possibly do!”. And life exists so much in the gray. And I say to myself all the time that one of the ways you know it’s that voice is like, is that there’s no space for anything else.
Jennifer: Such a good point! I’m going to write that down. That is a really beautiful point and space is where creativity lives. We need space and you’re right. I think my husband’s very black and white, it drives me bananas. He’s so smart, way smarter than me. Like “Babe, can you explain what’s happening in the middle east?”
But he’s very black and white with things. And that is not the way anything is really. Maybe there are some things in life but as human beings, we’re nuanced.
Mallory: Totally and there’s perspective and there’s experience and all of those things add up. I agree. There’s very rarely such black and white, right and wrong. We determine right based on our lived experience, where we come from, how we were raised, our culture. It’s really easy to say, “This is right and that is wrong”. But things are complicated. I think that the beauty of the world is in the gray.
Jennifer: Yeah. Me too.
Mallory: So let’s talk a little bit about… one of the things — I love so many of the things that you talk about and write about—, but when I was reading On Being Human the theme of shame, and you talk about shame loss a lot and those that’s one of your workshops series.
Do you remember what was the first time you ever used the term shame loss?
Jennifer: Oh, I know exactly when. It was only in the fall and it wasn’t even mine. One of my best friends, Chris Avila Hübschmann in New Jersey, and we went to NYU together. I talk about shame all the time and losing shame, and she’s one of these people who always has ideas. It’s fascinating. I’m like, “Wow, how do you come up with that stuff?”
We’re on the phone and I was not doing well. I was very depressed. My whole income went with COVID because all my money was earned from in-person events and, to segue into fundraising, one of the things I did was use my platform, my Instagram, my social media, to raise a lot of money to feed people and give them grocery cards.
But then at some point, I was like, “Okay, but what about my own family and my rent? Oh God”. So I had a couple of friends who sat me down who were like, “We’re going to help you figure this out” because I had a blind spot. I couldn’t see any possibility. Black and white thinking.
And my friend Chris said, “What about shame loss? Like instead of weight loss”. And I was like, “Oh, that’s brilliant. Of course that’s taken, I’m sure”. And I looked, I couldn’t believe it, and I bought it right away on GoDaddy. And then Chris goes, “Jen, maybe I came up with the name, but this is what you’ve been doing”. And I was like, “All right man, this is brilliant!”.
I’m so grateful to her for that clever name, but really so much of my life has been spent feeling shame. And, in the last many years I talk about it a lot and I talk about losing it and putting it down. So shame loss is a new thing, and it’s exciting. It’s exciting to see all these people coming together with this common intention that is to put down shame, at least for today.
Mallory: And people come and like they’re dealing with shame in so many different aspects…
Jennifer: You name it! For many of us, it seems like “What?”. For example, I used to have so much shame about my hearing loss and I remember leading a private retreat or something, and this woman was just so confused by that like “Why would you have shame by that?”
So first of all, shame is not logical.
What we’re feeling shame over in our body, someone else might not understand. And then there are really big things, of course, like sexual assault, things that were not their fault, but it runs the gamut. Yeah.
Mallory: I think about shame with fundraising, right? A lot of fundraisers feel a lot of shame when they’re fundraising, which I also agree with. Like, “What is the logic there? Why do fundraisers feel shame in fundraising?”
And then I think about, “Okay, what’s a common experience for not just a fundraiser, but like a public kind of display of the shame around fundraising?”. And I think about the ways that canvassers are standing on a street corner.
Jennifer: That’s a really good point.
Mallory: And we cross to the street ahead, or pretend like we’re on a phone call or we don’t make eye contact.
Jennifer: That’s what I do. Every once in a while I won’t but yeah.
Mallory – Body: And we do that. And we do that probably actually, because of our own shame at the moment because we don’t want to give, or we don’t want to have that conversation. I do it too, and I’m like, “Okay, why do I do that? Is it because I feel ashamed that I’m not going to give to them?”
Then maybe. But what if I just said, “I’m not going to give to you right now”?
Jennifer: For me, it’s just because most of the time it’s like in front of Trader Joe’s or wherever most of the time I’m not willing to make the time, or I don’t want to. And the easier way is to lie and pretend I’m on the phone than to be honest.
Mallory: Yeah. Yeah. So what’s that? Why is that?
Jennifer: Wow. Thanks a lot, Mallory.
Mallory: This is what I’m wondering!
Jennifer: Okay. A couple of things are coming to me, one of them is we think it’ll be a softer land, and won’t hurt their feelings. It’s kinda, “I’m on the phone talking to my mom. She’s in Texas and she’s sick. Sorry”, than just saying, “I’m not interested to hear what you’re canvassing”.
And the other one is people-pleasing, but that’s tricky. Maybe it’s people-pleasing, but I really do think as we think it’s going to be less hurtful somehow to them.
Mallory: Yeah, I agree. But I’ve been thinking about this. What would the impact be if we just said something like, “I’m not interested, that’s not where my money goes, but thank you so much for what you’re doing”.
Jennifer: I do that quite often. You’re bringing up some really interesting things that I actually haven’t given much conscious thought to. A lot of time I just say, “I donate to here”, and I listen and everything. I think some of it too is not trusting. It’s a fear of “Oh, these are scammers”. There’s a lot of mistrust.
Mallory – Body: Yeah. Or even maybe mistrust the time it would take to listen to them. Sometimes they’re like, “Do you have a minute?” And I know this is a 30 minute thing and it’s not just about a minute. But I think about how that then leads to this overarching shame that we feel in this asking and saying no. Because I feel like there is shame in saying no sometimes, and there is shame in asking.
Jennifer: You’re so right. The shame in saying no too is “I’m a bad person and I should be doing this”. And you’re right. It’s funny because when you said the shame around fundraising I wasn’t thinking about in-person I was thinking online and I was thinking the way I do it. I know you’re going to talk with Simone Gordon, The Black Fairy Godmother.
But I’ve got this fairly big platform, not huge by any stretch of the imagination, 90,000 people on Instagram who pay attention to what I say for whatever kooky reason. And a lot of times what I’ll do is I’ll either amplify one at Simone’s post or during the pandemic I was like, “All right!”.
How my whole thing started with raising money was, I just did a post back in March 2020 saying “Do you have enough food to eat?”. And it wasn’t because I thought I was going to be able to buy everyone groceries, it’s because I knew this community I’ve built and that I’m part of, they would step in and start taking care. And that’s exactly what happened.
Then I realized, “Oh, I’m the hub”. So people started sending me money to send out and then the whole GoFundMe started. But the point being, I was amplifying the needs of someone else. The people would either send money directly to them or to me, and I would give them cash or buy them groceries or Amazon wishlist.
There wasn’t so much shame on me because I wasn’t asking for myself, but there is shame in like “Oh, I can’t keep asking. People are going to get annoyed. People are going to get irritated”. What’s it called? Donor burnout. And that’s fair, if you ask every single day, eventually people are going to be like “Stop asking!”, but I haven’t thought about the shame in that.
Mallory: What’s interesting about what you’re saying is your frame of reference was like, “Okay, I’m gonna put this call out to this community and people are gonna step up”, but did you ever say “I have, 40,000 followers or 50,000 followers, and only 200 of them have given”? Because I think that’s what fundraisers do, right?
They’re like, “Oh my gosh, that means that 39,000 didn’t like the post”
Jennifer: No, I never do that. Never and will never do that. Nope, Nope. I have people who follow me who are multimillionaires and people who follow me live in their car. The truth is, there are so many ways to be of service, especially now with social media. You can be of service by amplifying the post, by sharing it, by clicking like, by telling someone about it, by whatever it is.
Maybe you share it and the next person donates. There are so many ways to keep it going. It’s not about, “Come on now, only 10 of you have donated!”. That’s not my way, and it won’t be.
Mallory: Yeah. No, and I totally agree. Even your mindset is just so much more abundant than what I see a lot of the time with fundraisers where not even that they’re nagging the person to give like, “Where are the rest of you?”. But they are feeling like, “Oh, nobody was interested in my post because only that percentage of the people who follow me were invested”.
What I loved about watching you during COVID do that thing is it was just never about what was happening beyond how you were showing up. You just kept showing up and you’re like, “Now I’m going to bring this person on to talk about this, and now I’m gonna bring this person on”. Where I feel like nonprofits can get really obsessed with what everyone’s thinking about the thing that we did or the way that we said that thing.
Jennifer: First of all, I wasn’t a nonprofit.
Jennifer: I’ve been told by one of my coaching clients, she’s like “Jen I wish I could be more like you and just leap. I think so much first, you just leap”. And I thought, “It’s a blessing and a curse” and I love it about myself but it also sometimes gets me in trouble. But yeah, I had a partner, one of my followers who became a friend, Dana Mondello, and all these volunteers.
But there was none of that because first of all, we didn’t know how long it was going to go on. It was like, “Let’s just get some people, some groceries”. But it’s interesting, the abundance thing. My friend Donovan Taylor Hall, this really amazing teacher I’ve been posting about, he was just on the Today Show.
I’m like, “We’re going to get you two grand, do a zoom thing. I’m not going to take any money for it, you are, let’s do this!”I have no doubt. I am like a wizard at raising money. But the funny thing is when it comes to myself, that’s where I’m like, “Okay, look at Ms. Scarcity Mindset”, but when someone’s like “We need help with this”.
I’m like, “I’m on it. You just watch”. And they’re like, “Jen, we went above and beyond!”. I’m very transparent, I tell the truth, I use my humor authenticity and I don’t sugar coat anything. And it seems to work.
Mallory: Yeah. Okay. So what you brought up is really interesting about when you transition to yourself. I remember seeing one of your first posts after you were fundraising, where you were like, “Okay you guys, I’ve been raising all this money, but now I need to focus on my business a little bit”.
What did that feel like? I don’t remember exactly what you said, but I remember seeing something in what you said, where I was like “Wow. Does she feel nervous about this?”Of course we should be supporting her, she has just fundraised so much money for all these other people!
Jennifer: I don’t know. I’m in so much right now, also that I’m processing the scarcity mentality and, the way I was raised having lost my dad at eight years old and watching my mom hustle and be in survival mode our whole life. When all my income went, the three retreats I had in Europe and the $10,000 speaking gigs and everything.
And I was like, “Oh-oh”. I’m the breadwinner, and it was like, “Thank God, I live in this tiny apartment”. I’ve lived here for almost 20 years and its rent control and we all share a bed. But yeah, I was in a real scared place and it wasn’t completely altruistic.
I love being of service and I loved what I did, but also it was a distraction. It was like, “I’m really good at this, and I’m going to keep doing this for everyone else”. And then eventually I was like, “Okay, now I really got to figure out what to do. Cause I don’t know when and if in-person things will ever come back”. It’s funny, the confidence I have around getting money for other people you can’t touch it.
I literally am like, “I am the queen of it”. But for myself… But I’m working on it. I’m like “Hey, look, you know what? I just bought a house”. Everything shifted. Within a year. If you look at one year ago this week even it’s unbelievable the shifts. I’d say one of the most beautiful lessons is to remember that it’s not what you don’t know that gets you in trouble, it’s what you think, or sure that just ain’t. And that’s not my quote, I think it might be Mark Twain, but it’s like letting go of what you think for sure. For me it was like, “It’s over. I had a good run. COVID was the quote-unquote, worst thing that happened to me”.
And It was awful, obviously, COVID was awful for my career per se, but then it ended up being the best because I reinvented it. I think just being able to marry my skills and chutzpah and all this stuff for fundraising and bringing that to my own life. I think it is the worthiness thing like “I don’t get to have that. I can do it for everyone else, but don’t get to have that”.
Mallory: Oh my God. Yeah. Just yes. I think that’s what we’re talking about here too. What I love about everything that you talk about is it’s like, everything is both. Sometimes I feel scarcity. Sometimes I feel abundance. When I’m feeling scarcity, I’m going to work on it. I’m going to go there. I’m going to look at why that’s showing up. Sometimes I’m not even going to be able to do that, and somebody else is going to have to call me out on it. That’s okay too.
The scarcity mindset, which is another area where I’m also doing a lot of work. I’ve been reading science research papers. Don’t even ask me about it! About what scarcity mindset does to decision-making when we’re in a scarce place. How does that impact how we make decisions? But for me, the scarcity mindset is always black and white. It’s like the opposite of that quote you just said. The scarcity mindset is always “It’s not possible”.
And abundance mindset, I think people think about an abundance mindset like “Okay if I feel scarcity, how am I ever going to feel abundance mindset?” But to me, an abundance mindset is a spectrum. It’s just the gray, it’s just “Oh, there might be a possibility here. And then there is a possibility here”.
Opening. Which I think is the way you talk about it like, yeah, everyone can access that, even if it’s for a moment, even if you do it focusing on someone else to just get you there, just to pull you out of scarcity and then just stay there for a second and ask what might be possible for you?
Jennifer: It’s always been wild for me when I realized that I’m around a lot of poverty. I have a lot of people I work with and I have a whole spectrum of socioeconomic folks in my orbit. It’s amazing to me how much money there is. There’s just a ton of money.
And I like to remember that a lot, especially when it’s “How are we going to get this?” Yeah, there’s a ton of people that are hurting in need, and there are so many people with just so much money. They don’t even know what to do with it. We have to just keep remembering that
Mallory: Yeah. Yeah. That there is so much out there.
Jennifer: There is! There is so much. It’s just mind-blowing. There’s just a ton of money out there and it’s energy and we have to allow it. I think there is a lot to be said. A lot of times, the reason people don’t donate or help or whatever is simply because they don’t know about it or they don’t know how. So many times, I cannot tell you almost every day, people thank me. “Thank you for this opportunity to help.” “you for this opportunity to donate”, because they just didn’t know.
So there’s that, and then there’s just the messaging. I’m not saying that you have to be clever and all these things, but there is something. For example, these canvassers, it’s hard and most people don’t stop and talk to them. But if somehow you’re able to get people to listen to you and you’re just yourself and you tell the truth, it’s a lot easier to connect and get them to support you.
Mallory: Yeah. Okay. Oh, there was something you just said that I was like “That!”.
Jennifer: Oh, thank you.
Mallory: People are going to think I fed this to you because my big mantra is like that great fundraising is not an ask, it’s an offer.
Jennifer: I know. I only know that because I lived it and I watched it and it’s just so many people I know. People have a ton of money and they’re like, “I didn’t even know how to thank you”. Exactly. It’s an offer, it’s an invitation.
Mallory: It’s an offer. It’s an invitation, it doesn’t have to be this sort of gross, uncomfortable guilt-ridden, hounding them like “Where are you?” It’s about how do you show up? How do you give people an opportunity? How do you have the energy that people want to connect with?
Cause that’s the other thing, you use the word energy, and that is my underlying framework for everything. It’s “Look! —and not in some woo woo way that people can connect with—we all give off energy all the time.” And when you are feeling that scarcity, when you’re feeling black and white thinking, when you are feeling guilty about asking for money, the donor can feel it, everyone can feel it.
But if you’re like, “I have this really cool thing and if you want to be a part of it, I’d love to invite you to be a part of it”. That’s so different, and yeah, I’m thinking about that even for the canvassers. There was my favorite canvasser. I went to the University of Michigan, and he would be in our central campus area. And his intro was like, “Hey, I have this thing. Could you throw it away for me?”
Jennifer: See, that’s funny. That’s clever.
Mallory: And I was like, what is this thing? Who is this person that’s connecting with something real?
Jennifer: But again, he’s using humor. That for me that’s one of my values. For me, that’s always going to get me.
Mallory: Yes. And it’s funny because it’s true, right? Everybody else is grabbing these things and throwing them away. And he’s playing on it in, we’re all human, we all know that this is what’s happening, so let’s make a joke of it.
Which I think goes back to that authenticity and truth-telling. So if someone’s like, “All right, like I hear you guys, I want to be in that space and in that energy and like showing up that way, but I really am feeling overwhelmed with the shame around money”.
Because money triggers so much shame for reasons that we don’t even know. So where do you suggest people even start?
Jennifer: Are you talking specifically about people who want to fundraise or just humans.
Mallory: In general, just in general. If you can see the north star with who you want to be and how you want to show up, but shame is holding you back from becoming that person, where do you start?
Jennifer: Yeah. I think it’s really important to get to the root of it. I do, but I don’t think that’s everything. And the reason I don’t think that’s everything is my lived experience. I’ve been able to, I’ve been really self-aware even as an eight-year-old in therapy, when I was dying of anorexia, I knew I was anorexic. And I also really did understand it was the grief and I was still doing it. So the why isn’t always enough. It’s the words with which I end my book.
It’s the, “Now what?” And one of the ways is really staying connected to your body and your body intelligence and really listening to your body. Even if you’re just naming it, “Okay, my heart’s beating really fast right now.I’m getting hot.”
You start to name the things and then you have a toolkit. So maybe it’s like you drop into breathing in a specific way, three deep breaths maybe. I started today with what I call a body prayer, which is generated from my own body. Like writing from a point of view of a body part, and then starting this prayer with may I remember.
And the first line for me is: may I remember to breathe. And I do it every single morning. And the idea is like before the world comes at me, before email, before Instagram, before you know anything except coffee, I go, “This is how I want to feel. This is what I want to remember today. This is what I want to allow.”
And I do my best to take and grow with that. This shame can be so debilitating and often we don’t even notice that or know. So I think about being really intentional, like “How do I want to feel today?” “Okay. Today I want to feel calmly confident”, let’s just say. Shame doesn’t really allow for that.
And then to look and get really honest at like, “How is shame stopping? Where is it stopping me?” Baby steps, baby now what. But finding practices, the prayer, coming back to your breathing, getting out of your head and into your body, whatever that means. Maybe it’s going on a walk, maybe it’s whatever it means for you, stepping outside, taking your shoes off, stepping on the grass or the sand, speaking up.
I think there’s a lot of tools and it’s a day-by-day practice. I will die on that hill, it’s day by day.
Mallory: Yeah, I totally agree. I feel like there are days where I don’t even see it. I don’t see shame. I don’t feel it. And then there are other days where it totally consumes me and it depends on the trigger. And I think for me, it feels a little bit sometimes like whack-a-mole.
I don’t feel shame around fundraising anymore.I’ve done that work. It’s possible. I could still get triggered there, but I haven’t in a really long time. But shame around my body is still really fresh. And so it’s interesting, I feel like the reason why it’s so important that we are talking about these things under the umbrella of fundraising, but not exclusively for it, is because nobody in my entire career in nonprofit leadership fundraising, no one ever told me that fundraising feels shameful. I certainly felt it, but no one was talking about it, which makes the shame worse because it’s like “I’m the one who’s ashamed”.
Jennifer: Of course because it thrives in darkness and secrecy. That’s why the shame loss community is so beautiful because other people are coming together and you start to speak it and you feel, “Oh my God, it’s so boring! These people all have the same exact thing. Oh, wow!” But speaking it out loud and having someone bear witness to it….
Jennifer – Body: And then, really keep digging so why am I feeling shame? And so much of it goes back, right? Not all of that has to do with what will they think?
Mallory: I feel like the answer to that question is also in black and white. It’s like judgment in total black and white. Like we never think “They might think that maybe I’m blah, blah, blah.” It’s “they’ll think I’m a bad person.”
Jennifer: That’s the inner a-hole, and one of my favorite quotes is “It’s worse than you think. They’re not thinking about you at all.”
Mallory: I love that.
Jennifer: I do. You got to say it all the time because it’s true. “What are they going to say? They’re not even thinking about us. Don’t worry!”
Another way I’ve exercised is I have tools. There’s something called the one and the 100, which is like if a hundred people love you, and they’re down with your fundraiser and one doesn’t and one hates you and starts writing stuff about you online.
Who are you going to focus on? The one. And so how do we either not focus on the one or make that time shorter and go onto the world and keep doing what we’re doing and keep fundraising, keep showing up, keep writing when we’re afraid they’re not going to like us. I have people meditate and visualize someone who loves them, our dad or an entity, and connect to that feeling and then write themselves a letter in the voice of them.
And it’s a reminder of who you really are. So when you have the “Oh, but they’re not going to like me”, you have this sort of protection or talisman of this letter. And it starts with: If you could see what I see, from the point of view of a person who loves you. And so you have that confidence, hopefully.
Mallory: I’m covered in chills. I remember reading that in your book too. But just the way you said it right now, I’m thinking about visibility. I’ve talked a lot about the fact that before I started my business in a big way, I had a visibility coach because I was so afraid of being visible and what that meant, that it opened up the possibility for a lot of criticism. And it’s true that we just attach ourselves to the one person, I’ll do a thing and they’ll be like, “You talk too fast or you talk too loud”. And I’m like, “Oh my God”. But then all these other people are super happy. Why can’t I just be like, “Listen, if I talk too fast or too loud, or you don’t like me, definitely don’t take my course because the same person you see here is the same person who’s inside there”.
But it feels so vulnerable at first, and I feel like my resilience has grown over time. What I love about what you said about that letter is to have someone who you are fully yourself with, who fully sees you, say those words is like this safety net around you actually can be completely you. I see you as completely you. You are safe, you are loved.
Jennifer: The greatest thing about the exercise, if I do say so myself, is that you wrote it yourself, so it’s what you already know. So there’s a PS. I wrote this with my own hand. So it’s what I already know, comma, but maybe have forgotten, period. So how easy it is to forget. And every single day, what do we need to do?
What are the practices we need to do to come back to remember, to get grounded so that we’re not riddled with shame so that our inner a-hole isn’t the boss of us, so that all our decisions are not made from a scarcity mentality or fear? What do I need to do every day?
Mallory: Yeah. To feel worthy.
Jennifer: Yeah, it doesn’t even have to be big. It could be like, what are you thinking?
Who are you spending your time with? What are you reading? It’s not all big action items.
Mallory : Yeah, which is why I think you’re such a powerful presence for people to follow on Instagram and things like that. I just think it’s such a gift to see real humans, and I say it to all my new mom friends. My daughter’s turning two in a few months.
Yeah. And I say to people that one of the best things I feel like I did for my momma brain was I unfollowed all curated moms.
Jennifer: Oh, yeah. I have another platform called No Bullshit Motherhood. That’s my other Instagram. No Bullshit Motherhood. Oh yeah. That’s not my jam. All that stuff.
Mallory: Yeah. But that’s such a good point. What are the influences that are making us feel bad? If we’re feeling not enough in whatever way.
Jennifer: It’s so simple. Mallory, why do we make it so hard? It’s so simple. This makes me feel terrible. Okay then stop doing it. We’re human and we’re like, “I’m going to torture myself and then feel bad and complain about it and do it again.”
Mallory: Yeah, or we don’t even think we deserve to have the space because we’re saying shouldn’t all over ourselves. We’re like “I should be able to follow that person and her perfect meals that she’s making for her 12 person family after work because I should be able to do that too”. And it’s like, “Says who?!”
Jennifer: Yeah, I don’t know. So what were you, 34 when you had your baby? 33? I was 41. I am so glad for whatever reason I never got caught up. And maybe part of it too is because I already knew I couldn’t compare. I’m like “I live in a one-bedroom”.But with other stuff I definitely have my demons, but with that, with the mom’s stuff, for some reason, it’s very liberating I’ll say.
Mallory: Yeah, it has been for me too. I almost made it two years with literally no mom shame. Like I have not felt anything. And I think it’s because I’ve gone into it having already done this audit around, like “What are the things that support me?”
Jennifer: Did you call it an audit?
Mallory: Yeah. You know when you are just listing all those things. What are you saying to yourself? Who are you following? Spending time with? Whenever something doesn’t feel good in my life, I’ll do a little audit like “This thing keeps feeling sticky. Why?”
Jennifer: What sign are you?
Jennifer: Interesting. When’s your birthday?
Mallory: November 26.
Mallory: What about you?
Jennifer: Sagittarius December 12.
Mallory: Oh, That’s
Jennifer: That’s funny. In some ways I can see that, in another way I was like, “you’re like a Virgo”. You’re very, with the black and white, even the audit, the reference. I was like, “She’s either a Capricorn or Virgo”.
I’m not even like an astrology person really. I don’t know why, but I also could see the sad stuff. I think that’s a really valuable tool , what you’re talking about in this audit. “Okay, what’s working? Let me double down on that. What’s not? Let’s see if it’s possible to stop.” And it’s not always possible at the moment.
It’s “Okay, my job isn’t working.” And I say, “Okay, go quit right now.” No! But get honest about it.
Mallory: Totally, but even doing it and calling it the audit allows it to not be like “It’s not about me”. It’s not like I’m this, it’s I’m surrounded by all these things that are influencing how I feel about this. Because that’s what helps pull me out of the black and white.No, you’re all the influences in my life. Some of it’s going to be working. Some of it’s not going to be working.
In yoga, one of the most amazing things that yoga has supported me around is cultivating the witness. I feel like I’ve used some of these tools to pull myself out of being the person that everything is happening to, versus saying “Okay, let’s observe what’s actually surrounding me right now.”
Jennifer: Exactly. And that’s why I said, after my friend died and I slipped into this sort of depression in the last few weeks and a scarcity mindset, and you look at the whole, right? And then you audit and you go, “All right, this happened”. And then, I don’t necessarily believe in the word balance. At least in my own life I have never found it, but I’m balanced-ish. And you look at it and day “Where am I not so balanced right now?” Oh, I’m not sleeping. I’ve been drinking too much. I’m having 18 cups of coffee a day. My friend just died, and there are all these things.
I’m not starting the day with my morning prayer, I’m scrolling Instagram for 17.8 hundred hours a day. And to go, “Oh no wonder”. It’s not like a random happenstance thing. It’s the whole, it’s all these things that support us in feeling grounded and feeling like our best self and feeling powerful and feeling capable, expansive. All these things that are supporting us are not in play right now, so audit. And then not shaming ourselves for it or going “I can’t believe I let myself get here again”. Nope.
Mallory: Nope, nope.
Jennifer: Now what?
Mallory: Exactly. You have choices. You have control, maybe not over everything at the same moment, but definitely around some of the things.
Jennifer: No, and that’s a really good point, saying “Where is my life? Am I trying to control something that I can’t possibly control?” And that would probably cure like 80% of all of our misery.
Mallory: Yes. And then I asked myself that question or some form of it, and then I’m like, “Okay, where do I need to surrender?”
Jennifer: That’s my word right now. Yeah baby surrender!
Mallory: That’s been my word for motherhood. People ask me, “What’s your motherhood word? Surrender, surrender, surrender.
Jennifer: I love that. My word for a long time has been ease, but I like surrender. Surrender and ease. Oh, I love it. Yeah. In terms of fundraising too. I love the word allow, let’s add that. But it’s really about trust.
Just trusting and surrendering. It’s going to be what it’s going to be. I trust, I allow for the flow. That’s not necessarily easy, but it can be.
Mallory: It isn’t easy. Certainly it isn’t easy in a scarcity mindset.
Jennifer: It’s impossible. Truly, just telling you from experience even last week. It’s so hard when you’re in that place to be like, “Yeah, I’m just going to allow it to flow”, because your inner a-hole is like “You better not. You’re about to be houseless. You’re going to be on the street”. What?
Mallory: Yeah. But with certainty, you’re definitely not.
Jennifer: That’s it, I’m gonna to cancel one client cause I’m feeling burnout and from that I’m going to be houseless? No!
Mallory: It’s so true. It’s just so loud when we get into it. There’s another episode with Dr. Ethan Cross who talks about chatter, and so there’s a lot of alignment here and he gives some really good tips.
Jennifer: What’s his name? Ethan Cross.
Mallory: Yeah. And the book is called Chatter.
Jennifer: Wow. Maybe you should introduce us.
Mallory: I would love to, oh my gosh. I would love to, and he’s been doing scientific research at the University of Michigan and he has some great strategies for how to pull yourself out of the spiral.
One of them he calls it distance self-talk and to use your name and some sort of forward motion that like when we’re really spiraling and we can’t see the light and we’re like deep in that black and white thinking to be like, “Mallory, you have been here before, you know this”.
Jennifer: I do it all the time.
Mallory: Me too! Yeah. But it’s amazing to see the research around what that does to your brain so fast. I was like, “Wow!”.
Jennifer: Yes, Jennifer! We all talk to ourselves, we just need to admit it. And I talk out loud to myself without shame, “Jennifer, come on! Jenniffer!”. Constantly.
Mallory – Body: I love that. Okay. I could talk to you literally all day, but before we forget, I want you to tell us all the ways that people can find you. I would love to say we should do yoga for fundraisers, but instead let’s just have all the fundraisers come to yoga with me and with you.
But tell us all the things.
Jennifer: Yeah. Because this will probably air in August or September. My retreats are coming back in September. I have Italy or France. So reach out to me if you’re interested in coming to either of those with me, my On Being Human Retreats and I turned them virtual! So it’s been so magical. The next virtual On Being Human is in October and I have the Shame loss course.
And I’m on an app called MYND, it’s like a self-help app. It’s amazing. It’s free. What else? I teach yoga just a little bit these days, one class a week, but you can find everything. Instagram is where I hang the most @jenpastiloff or JenniferPastiloff.com.
I’m a coach. I’m really busy right now. But if you want to get on the waitlist, do it!
Mallory: And I will put links to all of this below the episode and everything, so they can find you. And then in true nonprofit fundraising fashion, is there a nonprofit organization that you would love to highlight?
Jenniffer: Yes. So my friend, Natalie Weaver, her daughter Sophia passed, and I give a scholarship. It happened by accident and quotes, but not really, to a woman who’s lost a child or many women it seems to be. And Natalie was meant to come to the retreat. It was canceled and COVID.
It’s called the Alexander fund.It was named after a baby Alexander who passed. Anyway, I offered her the scholarship and then COVID, and then she was going to come this September and she can’t during those dates, but her non-profit is called Sophia’s Voice. And Sophia’s Voice supports children and adults with disabilities, as well as caregivers and disability rights activists.
They provide financial support for medical equipment, not covered by insurance.Medical bills and debt, medication appointments, respite, advocacy support, and various other medical-related expenses. They also raise awareness to normalize facial differences and profound disabilities and work to hold social media giants, countable for protecting people with facial differences and disabilities online.
She started Sophia’s voice in honor of her sweet Sophia #SweetSophia and will continue it in her memory. Even though she couldn’t speak, she did have a voice and it was a powerful one. Natalie is so proud of the impact she’s had continued to have on the world. It would make her so proud to know she was making a difference.
Natalie promised her she would continue the work that we started together. So it’s sophias-voice.com. It’s really remarkable. I remember following her even before Sophia passed, because she was a huge advocate. People would always say hateful, horrible hateful things. And I remember falling on Twitter and then somehow we became friends as I do, and I offered her the scholarship and she said, yes. That was like a year and a half ago or so.
And the work she’s doing is remarkable. So sophia-voice.com.
Mallory: Oh, my gosh. I’ll put all that information as well. I’m so grateful for you. I want to be sensitive to time, I know you have to go, but just thank you.
Jennifer: Thank you. Let me know how I can support you and keep doing the great work you’re doing. Keep putting down shame, keep losing shame. You don’t have to carry it.
Mallory: Yeah, no thank you for being a model of that. And for being so open and transparent and authentic, and just leading by example. I definitely will come to yoga. I’ll send you an email with Ethan’s info, but also a few others. And you can just say. Yes I want to meet and I’ll make all the intros
Jennifer: Text me. I don’t know if I have your number. So text me and then I’ll text you back. I’m really proud of the work you’re doing. So keep doing it.
Mallory: Oh my gosh. That’s such an honor. Yeah. Thank you. Thank you.
Jennifer: It’s really important. Thank you, it was an honor. Thanks for asking me.
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