burning questions with jen louden, the comfort queen
Jen Louden is the author of the Oprah-loved The Woman’s Comfort Book, a coach who describes her typical client as “smart, curious, has a pretty good sense of humor, and doesn’t suffer fools lightly.” (sound familiar?) And one of the innovators of the “virtual retreat.”
I especially love Jennifer via video. When she talks about getting the “renewal I need for my soul…” I want it. When she talks about going from “the grind to the organic flow…” I’m nodding. I believe the twinkle in her eye. I start fantasizing about radical self-care and spa time, spirit-centered creative retreats, and meandering to the beat of my heart and I…feel comforted already.
1. What do you know to be true, unquestionably beyond doubt, certain with every cell of your being, completely, passionately, righteously certain?
That I love the bejuses out of my daughter. That befriending myself is better than kicking myself. That I am never alone. That little in life is fixed. That planning isn’t the same as creating. That depletion is another name for hiding your genius. That creating stuff makes me happy. That it’s not about me. That Bob loves me. That nature restores my faith. That my body is the way in. That yoga heals. That books are a miracle. That women will bring about the change we are hungry for. That life is a hoot. Oh, and expect the Spanish Inquisition and be pleasantly surprised when all goes well.
2. What did you decide to stop doing in order to be the real Jen, instead of the gotta-have-it-all, do-it-all Wonder Woman version so many of us are burning out for?
Anything to do with details – I’m a big idea person and very bad with the details. Tracking things. Spelling. House cleaning. Cooking. Sending birthday cards. Committees – never never ever. I’m trying to learn how to hire someone who can help me hold my business. There is an energetic plus detail letting go that is next for me.
3. What happens when women find their voice?
What doesn’t happen? When I wrote my first book in 1992, The Woman’s Comfort Book, that was my feminist manifesto. True self-care liberates self-trust and trust in something larger than yourself and that creates a chain reaction from “I will keep my paycheck husband thank you very much” to “I don’t have to work at a job I hate. I can go back to school / start my own business.”
Claiming our own lives and our own desires can start to feel hackneyed as in old hat, already done, so basic. When in fact, claiming our voice, our selves, will always be the essential act of growing up. Ignore it or belittle it at your own peril.
4. What was the dumbest thing that you used to believe in?
That if I just sold enough books, I would finally believe I was cool. That there was a “done” to arrive at.
5. What are your creative habits? How do you keep the poetry, wisdom and coin flowing?
- Create daily. Something!
- Have someone else capture, polish, put together my big out pourings instead of me. Mornings are sacrosanct. I sleep late (6:45 or 7) in the winter, rise earlier as spring and then our long summers grace us.
- Meditation before anything or the day is shot. Email after that only when my baby is out of town and I need a love hit. Otherwise, wait for the real world – create first.
- Multi-tasking is dangerous and must be avoided during creative time.
- Tend my creative well often with new experiences, quiet time, being and listening.
- Take retreats!
- I read a lot.
- I have to take in new experiences and learning often or I dry up.
- I make art messes often.
- I pray to be inspired.
- I release my judgment of the first draft and dive in deeper.
- When I find myself comparing myself, I think, “Yeah for her/him!”
6. What book(s) are you always telling people to read?
7. I’m going to give you a word. Tell me what the first thing that comes to mind when you read it… Ready? The word is: compassion.
Without compassion for myself, I become a brittle depleted self-absorbed bore who hides in fear.