Jen Louden. To know her is to love her. Without question.

{Sigh}.

To me, this woman is the sheer embodiment of Creative Joy (and River Deep? Oh YES).  Truly.

{Deep sigh}.

Okay, so she’s that, she’s funny as funny can be (cf: The Giggle Reel), she’s hung out on Oprah’s couch, and oh, I don’t know, like, HELPED LAUNCH THE WHOLE SELF CARE MOVEMENT with her first book The Woman’s Comfort Book. Since then, she’s written five more books on well-being and personal wisdom that have inspired more than a million women in nine languages, like the classic The Woman's Retreat Book and her latest, The Life Organizer. She has been a national magazine columnist, radio show host on Sirius, the whole while with those brilliant baby blues shining bright and a grin that could stop a Mack truck going full speed. In fact, I'm sure it has.

She knows self-love + world-love = wholeness for all.

{Yet another deep sigh}.

So, she’s a woman WHO KNOWS THINGS….you know?

Intimately.

And she revealed a LOT in this interview in service of you finding YOUR thing. She talks about teaching your way to your thing, her incredible TeachNow program (of which I am enthusiastically participating in this time around), seducing your thing, loving and abandoning your thing (and how that’s juuuust fine) and all kinds of other richness. TRUST me.

And I confess, I had a helluva time editing this video down to under 10 minutes (the limit available for a YouTube video) so once you’ve enjoyed the interview, devoured the transcript, shared the tweets (as feels appropriate to you), please treat yourself to The Jen Louden + Tanya Geisler Giggle Reel (wherein I THINK she does Shiva Nata, shares a highly memorable moment on National TV and we yuck it up but good).

{Final sigh}

Interview with Jen Louden for Thing Finding Thursday

Good, right??

Tweetworthy Jen-isms (for your sharing pleasure)

  • You don't think you're ready to teach, but you discover what you know thru teaching. @JenLouden to @TanyaGeisler http://ow.ly/8GHZc #TFThurs 
  • Don't let the heartbreak stop you from trying. @JenLouden to @TanyaGeisler http://ow.ly/8GHZc #TFThurs 
  • It’s never about being done, or perfect. @JenLouden to @TanyaGeisler http://ow.ly/8GHZc #TFThurs 
  • And if I try to stare too hard...or make it a brand or a tagline, it bites me in the ass + it dies. @JenLouden http://ow.ly/8GHZc #TFThurs
  • Finding your thing is an onion, a spiral, a dance, it's not a destination. @JenLouden to @TanyaGeisler http://ow.ly/8GHZc #TFThurs
  • Your thing may be what's flirting with you out of the corner of your eye. @JenLouden to @TanyaGeisler http://ow.ly/8GHZc #TFThurs
  • It's okay to find [your thing] + abandon it + find it + abandon it.  @JenLouden to @TanyaGeisler http://ow.ly/8GHZc #TFThurs

Transcript of edited interview (for your reading pleasure)

Tanya: So, Jen Louden, what’s your thing?.

Jennifer: Can I read you something?

Tanya:  Always.

Jennifer:  I’m called to lead you into sun drenched wholeness.  I am called to paint a picture for you of you free from shackles and shame and blame and ill health.  I’m called to mold a whole body YES to whatever life brings.  And I’m called to help you find and live your creative heart’s desire in service to the world – in service to you and in service to the world.  And I’m called to ask you to consider the whole of the world and all the beings as you live your heart’s desire.

I’m called to write stories that bring you home.  Yeah, so anyway I wrote that and I want everybody listening to know that I have lived in the question of what’s my thing and everybody close to me will tell you with a lot of teeth grinding and a lot of angst, since my first book was published, probably before that was that book arose out of wondering what’s my thing and feeling like I was failing at the thing I wanted to do, which was write screenplays.  So I think the most important thing I want to tell people listening is you decide what your thing is and it’s like something for me that flirts out of the corner of my eye.  Right, it’s like, “Ooh, I see you, but do I really see you?”  And if I try to stare too hard or bear down on it or make it a brand or a tagline, it bites me in the ass and it dies.  And it’s something about this living relationship.

In yoga today my teacher said, “Be peace.  You know, it’s a word; it’s a lovely word that we hear but be it now.”

And it was like, “Oh holy, yeah.  That’s it.  That’s what we need to do with this thing.”  Finding it, living it.

What gets in my way is that I intellectualize it and I want to brand it and I want to be strategic about it.  I’m not saying that’s wrong, but it’s like the cart can get in front of the horse.  We have to keep coming back to being this thing that really is beyond words and taglines and brands and everything and trusting that.

Tanya: And I think that there’s something – I’ve talked to other people about gaps to be filled, I’ve talked to other people about itches that need to be scratched, but there’s something about this dancey, fluttery, whoop, what was that, it’s gone.

Jennifer:  And seducing it, right?  Seducing that desire.

Jennifer:  So I was on retreat with my brain trust … and one of my dear friends, Eric Klein who’s a 30 year ordained spiritual teacher, incredibly successful consultant in business and best selling author, I was watching him this whole retreat having a hard time really claiming his chops as a teacher.

Tanya:  Yep.

Jennifer:  In a very deep way.  And I thought, “I want to help people who want to teach.”  That’s how our ideas start, right?  They start as this little thing that we see a need in the world or a need in ourselves.  All of my books have come from a need in myself, most of my blog posts do.  And then I started talking to my friend Michelle Lisenbury Christianson because I love to collaborate with people, I like to do serial collaborations. And we started talking about our own journeys as teachers and how much shame and suffering we had because we were both called to teach in our 20s.  My first became a word of mouth bestseller and people saw me on TV and they were like calling me up, “You want to come talk at our hospital?”  Or, “Hey, do you do workshops?”

But here’s the important thing everybody, here’s the important thing about finding your thing through teaching.  You don’t think you’re ready to teach, but you discover what you know through teaching.  And if you set it up in a way that it’s safe for you and that you can collect what you’re learning, you can record it, you can grow so much faster into seeing, “What is it about my thing that I love?  What is it about it that I don’t love?  What is it that I want to learn more about?”  But it’s never about being done or perfect.

You will never know everything you need to know to teach what you want to teach and hence that is what is so maddening for people and so tenderizing about teaching.  Things will always arise that you can’t answer and the stronger that you take your seat as a teacher the more able you are to meet people there and be curious with them and be a student teacher.  And there are a number of the master teacher interviews, there’s like 34 and we’re always adding more master teacher interviews.  And Sherry Huber, the zen meditation teacher is one of them and she talks about being a student teacher and being asked to teach and having her knees literally shaking and she’s still terrified, like 35 years later.

Tanya:  Right.

Jennifer:  So to me the greatest gift of TeachNow and probably the greatest gift of a lot of my work is kind of being willing to pull the curtain back and say, “This is what’s really going on in this moment right now.”

Tanya:  Love it.  Okay, so you said that your family, your friends witnessed this whole process.  It’s been quite amazing to watch it.  Even at the top of the call you were saying you don’t really coach anymore.  So as your own identity has been morphing and your things have been sort of shifting like a beautiful home that’s sort of settling into itself in a way, you know?  What have been some questions that you’ve been asking yourself?

Jennifer:  Well, first I have to tell you that my word for the year is home so it’s really lovely that you said that.  And I don’t mean home like staying home, I mean like building a new way of being, inhabiting the space of that deep rootedness and self trust, so nice little synchronicity there.  The benchmarks are, for me, first to notice where I’m feeling out of alignment or like I’m faking it.  That faking is a huge benchmark for me, and then I’ve had to learn, God, over and over and over again, “Oh, that doesn’t mean I’m doing the wrong work.  It means I have a story about how I should be doing the work.”

Tanya:  Yes.

Jennifer:  Huge, huge, oops, still learning it, still learning it.  And then looking back at whatever I’ve done and there’s a lot of it and going, “Oh, holy shit, that was really of use to people but I wasn’t getting fed because my story was ‘that’s not what I’m supposed to be doing.’”

Tanya:  Right, right.

Jennifer:  So there’s so much discernment here and I think it’s so important if there’s one message that I have for people is that you don’t think that there is an arrival place or a done or that if you get there, you will know it because it will be delightful, light, and easy all the time, right?  Because you’re still you, even when you’re doing your thing you’re still you.  And so as you can tell, a little goofy, a little intense, and a little bit of an over provider so those things are always going to be, but as I spiral around I tend to loosen them up a little better; I can get some distance.

Tanya:  And again, that’s where the home piece comes in it seems like for you.  So within the context of all of these disparate things that just make you so alive and so Jen Louden, yea!  Finding the piece and the homeness in there.

Jennifer:  Yes, perfect, thank you.  That’s why you’re such a great coach.

Tanya:  Oh, thank you, thank you.  Is there anything else that people who are watching?

Jennifer:  There are a couple of things.  One is that it’s okay if you found it in and abandoned it and found it and abandoned it and found it and abandoned it.

And we can be ashamed that we’ve given up and we’re here again, or we can celebrate and get support.

Tanya:  No honestly and truly, you’re so like, “That’s it.”  And the idea of this being a dance, I’m sort of like, “Is it fitting now?  Not so much, I’m going to try this.  Is it fitting now?  Oh, a little more, if I just had a little more of this, add a little more shimmy shimmy shake.”  I absolutely love that and it’s okay to abandon and revisit and abandon and revisit.  Do you know how expansive that is?

Jennifer: Sometimes the things that you most care about are the things that you’re most afraid of, so you may know very well what your thing is and you may know that you may not be able to bring it to life the way that you want and that may break your heart, but don’t let that heartbreak stop you from trying.  I’m not going to be able to write the great American novel.  You may never read what I write, or maybe I will.  But if I put my hat on that as living my thing, then I’m screwed right out of the gate.  And instead I say my job is to show up and how can I show up all of myself and how can I keep learning and how can I be curious and how can I really try to tell a story that does what I want it to do, which is bring wholeness and make you think and make you, well lots of other things.  That’s all I can do.

Annnnnnnd...The Giggle Reel

 

_______________

Go find Jen at her site, TeachNow and on Twitter. Learn from her. Celebrate your path as she celebrates hers. Joyfully.

5 Comments