Tag Archives: Joy

Self-Compassion Saturday: Jennifer Louden

Jennifer Louden is one of those women who seems to have always been there for me. I can’t remember exactly the origin of this being, but know that in some way it’s connected to my discovery of Patti Digh’s work, or maybe by way of Susan Piver. What I know for certain is that she is part of a constellation of women who have helped me on my way, comforted and encouraged me, are examples of courage, kindness, and joy.

I know the connection to Jennifer’s work began with my life-rehab almost two years ago. Sameet M. Kumar says in his book Grieving Mindfully: A Compassionate and Spiritual Guide to Coping with Loss that “grieving mindfully enables us to use the tremendous influx of emotional energy that comes from experiencing loss to nurture life,” and that,

…with mindful awareness of your grief, you can move closer to the people in your life who matter most, and change habits or ideas that have been keeping you from living fully. Full awareness, especially in grief, of your patterns of thought, feelings, and behavior can take you from living with misery, fear, and discontent to living with openness and passion.

The loss of Obi and then Kelly started my life-rehab, my quest to live life with an open heart, and since the beginning Jennifer Louden has been one of my guides. First it was through her books, then her web presence (she wrote one of my favorite blog posts of all time, 2012 Predictions for You), and last summer when I went to World Domination Summit, I was able to meet her and tell her to her sweet face how much I adore her. Next month, I get to attend a writing workshop she’s leading with Laurie Wagner, Spit & Polish, (rumor has it there might still be a few spots left).


Jennifer Louden has written six books on well-being and personal wisdom, has studied yoga and meditation since she was 12, is Mom to a beautiful daughter and two of the cutest dogs on the planet, is about to be married (next week, August 17th — wishing her so much love ♥), has been a long time mentor to teachers and creatives through retreats and workshops and classes and coaching, she is no stranger to grief but she is also a companion to joy, and she is a dedicated student of love.

On Twitter, she describes herself this way, “Best-selling author, coach, champion of creative joy, speaker, teacher of teachers, spreader of satisfaction, curious s-hero, and generally awe struck at it all.” She is my favorite sort of woman, wise and kind and make you laugh until your face hurts funny. I’m so happy to share her perspective on self-compassion with you today.

jenscarf1. What does self-compassion mean, what is it? How would you describe or define it?

For me it means dropping self-judgment every time I notice it – from eating too much chocolate last night to procrastinating writing my novel this morning to being envious of a friend this afternoon. It is the act of dropping my story that I am bad, wrong, less than, not spiritual, not progressing, etc. Yet If I make self-compassion a goal, I immediately lose access to the state.

It’s awareness catching the story and putting it down without any fuss.

Photo by Darrah Parker

Photo by Darrah Parker

2. How did you learn self-compassion? Did you have a teacher, a guide, a path, a resource, a book, a moment of clarity or specific experience?

Reading Tara Brach, Ramana Maharshi, Brene Brown, Rick Hanson, Rumi, Hafiz, Mary Oliver;
Meditating by relaxing everything and simply observing everything without getting attached to anything, loving kindness meditation, chanting ahem prema and really chanting anything;
Dancing, yoga, massage;

These have all given me glimpses of self-compassion. They are pointing out instructions to what I must then apply again and again.

jenunion3. How do you practice self-compassion, what does that experience look like for you?

See number 1. It’s all practice and since my biggest trap in life is to believe I have nothing creatively valuable to offer the world and my deepest desire is to create, I get a lot of practice dropping the sticky place the self-blame and frustration that keep this story alive. I seem to have been born to learn to be compassionate with myself as the path to being creatively self-expressed. So compassion is my biggest ally and my most frequently forgotten ally.

4. What do you still need to learn, to know, to understand? What is missing from your practice of self-compassion, what do you still struggle with?

To untangle myself from what I produce. The thought is something like, “I will practice compassion for myself once I get my work done and I decide it’s useful to others. Then I will deserve compassion.” I know intellectually my creative happiness and spiritual freedom live in me practicing self-compassion first but I forget a thousand times a day. Then I get overwrought and so frustrated!

It does not escape my attention that a large part of my work in the world has been to foster self-compassion in others through self-care. It makes me ruefully chuckle.

jenwisestpeopleWhat I am learning is to inhabit the open space where all these stories fall away and being alive, breathing, being here to witness and experience life, is enough.

It’s good to write this and remember that self-compassion is my path. Thank you for asking such rich questions.

Photo by Darrah Parker

Photo by Darrah Parker

I am offering the deepest bow to Jennifer, sending her much love, am so grateful to her for taking the time to offer a glimpse into her practice and understanding of self-compassion. I especially connected with the idea that, “my biggest trap in life is to believe I have nothing creatively valuable to offer the world and my deepest desire is to create.” *sigh* Me too, Jen. Me too.

To find out more about Jennifer, to connect with her:

Next on Self-Compassion Saturday: Susannah Conway.

P.S. If you didn’t see the first post in this series, you might want to read Self-Compassion Saturday: The Beginning.

Something Good

1. This description of a good writer, from Isaac Asimov, “You are my idea of a good writer because you have an unmannered style, and when I read what you write, I hear you talking.”

2. Something you may need to hear today from Kat McNally.

3. To Succeed, Forget Self-Esteem, a post about self-compassion on, of all places, Harvard Business Review (?!)

4. On being copied from Andrea Schroeder, in which she says “people aren’t buying your product or service on its own – they’re buying your product or service animated by your creative essence.”

5. 36 Things You Will Naturally Understand If You’re From Colorado on BuzzFeed. I don’t know if I necessarily agree with all of these, and don’t get the childhood references since I didn’t grow up here, but it’s pretty funny.

6. Brave Love, “A love-based case for the what’s right in the world, curated by Brit Hanson.”

7. 30 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Die.

8. Sacred Love: 12 Things at the Bottom of Everything** from Rachel Maddox. P.S. There’s still time to donate to her Traveling Soul Circus project.

9. The Five Buddha Families and 10 Reasons why Buddhism is Better than your Religion on Elephant Journal.

10. Erica Staab shares a beautiful poem, Clearing by Martha Postlewaite.

11. From Brave Girls Club,

Beautiful, true, important things almost always take a long time to come to fruition. There are often very long stretches that are tedious, thankless, difficult and hard to measure. We get tired and that makes us weak and vulnerable to things that hurt our feelings or make us want to stop trying. There are often points in the journey when we feel absolutely alone, misunderstood and even cast out. There are sometimes points in our journey when we just want to be alone…and that is hard to explain to people we love. Making progress is not easy, is it?

With all of that in mind, however…think even more seriously about how miserable it is to stay stagnant. Think of how awful it feels to know in our hearts that we are meant for something, but to continue to ignore it, run away from it….or stay stuck just looking at it in fear.

12. The Well-Fed Woman: Tara Sophia Mohr on Rachel Cole’s blog, in which Tara describes something I know all too well, in a way I hadn’t quite figured out how to say it yet:

I grew up making art of all kinds – but when I went to college I couldn’t find a way to create comfortably in the highly competitive, hierarchical environment there. My center drifted over to my more intellectual, left-brain side, and that became my comfort zone. The more I was centered there, the harder it was to create. I became very, very afraid making art – so frozen in my creativity, afraid of failure, afraid of “not being good.”

13. Also on Rachel Cole’s blog, a brilliant reframing of perfection, The New (Im)perfection.

14. rodrigo y gabriela, and a lesson in passion on Chookooloonks.

15. your daily rock : love what you do

16. ZenPen: Body-Based Writing for Healing, Transformation, and Personal Growth, a great new offering from Courtney Putnam, a six week writing ecourse. I swore I wasn’t taking any more ecourses, needed to put my energy into creating my own, but this one makes that vow so hard to keep.

This microcourse, How to Create a Microbusiness that Matters, from Courtney Carver at Be More With Less, is also making this promise a tough one to keep.

17. “Often I busy myself trying to find the key – and fail to notice the door has no lock.” ~Mary Anne Radmacher

18. The August Break with Susannah Conway is back! I’m in.

19. how joy is a toughie for me from Jessica Swift.

20. My Dog Got Kicked Out Of Daycare Today.

21. Rachel Cole linked to a song in her Midsummer’s Joy post, and I was so happy, not realizing that Mary Lambert, the gorgeous female voice on Macklemore’s “Same Love,” had her own full song, She Keeps Me Warm. I bought her EP Letters Don’t Talk and have been listening to it on repeat (it’s only five songs).

22. Note from the Universe,

Dreams come true, Jill, that’s what they do. The only variable is when. For the slow approach: Resist. Attach. Insist. Deny. Stop. Second guess. Whine. Argue. Defend. Protest. Cry. Struggle. And ask others, when you know the answer yourself. For the quick approach: Visualize. Pretend. Prepare. Dodge. Roll. Serpentine. Do not waiver over intentions, but over methods. Show up, even when nothing happens. And give thanks in advance. You knew that.

24. This wisdom from Henri Nouwen and his book Turning My Mourning into Dancing, (shared by Satya in Writing Our Way Home’s newsletter),

I am gradually learning that the call to gratitude asks us to say, “Everything is grace.” As long as we remain resentful about things we wish had not happened, about relationships that we wish had turned out differently, mistakes we wish we had not made, part of our heart remains isolated, unable to bear fruit in the new life ahead of us. It is a way we hold part of ourselves apart from God.

25. Your Permanent Record from Seth Godin, in which he says, “Perfect can’t possibly be the goal, we’re left with generous, important and human instead.” Also from Seth, People like us do stuff like this.

26. A birds-eye view of this right now {Just One Paragraph 4/30} from Christina Rosalie, in which she says, “Time is a trickster. A torrent one minute, then a slow as honey crawl the next.”

27. Amazing Plant Sculptures at the Montreal Mosaiculture Exhibition 2013 on Bored Panda.