Best Selling Author and Media Personality, Jennifer Louden
Jennifer Louden is an established media favorite, known for her humor, honesty, and ability to deliver tangible tips and heart-expanding insight with grace and passion. As a best-selling author of The Woman's Comfort Book and 4 other titles, she draws on a wealth of stories and experience to regularly enliven magazines like Woman's Day, People magazine, Health, Yoga Journal, Good Housekeeping, Shape, and Ladies Home Journal. Jennifer is also a contributing editor at Martha Stewart's magazine Body+Soul.
Jennifer Louden's media appearances have included the Oprah Show, Later Today, MS-NBC, CNN, Fit TV, and close to a hundred local news shows in most major markets. She is a leading spokeswoman for women's well-being.
I remember that I remember seeing her on Oprah a few years ago. I remember that I liked a lot of the things that she had to share then and I was reminded of why that was when we recently talked.
Jennifer is an advocate for well being and self-care and what I find to be most powerful about her commitment is that she is free to be a work in progress. I am inspired by her ability to be candid about "the way that it is" without compromising any of her best self. She does not pretend which makes Jennifer Louden someone who is wonderful to talk to; someone who is a pleasure to listen to...
DR: Tell me about your life.
JL: I recently partnered with a large mattress company called Spring Air. I am going to do some spokesperson work for them. When I was at their sales conference a few nights ago in Chicago, I said that being a comfort expert or being known as the "Comfort Queen" is not something that I set out to do. It is something that I have tried to get out of numerous times but it just keeps happening to me. It keeps following me and I find it both incredibly reassuring but also mystifying. I think that is because there is a part of me that has come out in this work over of the last fifteen years, that can't help but nurture women.
I want to inspire women to nurture themselves. I am amazed by that most days.
Comfort Secrets for Busy Women - Finding Your Way When Your Life Is Overflowing"The Comfort Queen introduced me to a new concept... taking care of me. Taking care of me in a honest, accepting, enthusiastic way. This book and its fantastic author, helped me transition from a tyrannical woman demanding that the world give her what she deserves... to a Queen who understands the world provides, all she needs to do is ask."
Previously entitled The Comfort Queen's Guide To Life, this refreshing book is an adventure with the fictional inner nurturer, the Comfort Queen, and Jennifer as they join in a search for a more inner directed life. It is also an innovative spiritual organizer with progressive mindful questions (similar to the ones featured on our interactive free Inner Organizer) to help you find and live the unique shape of your life.
Click here to buy Comfort Secrets for Busy Women
I feel like there is this part of me that always wanted to be a comedy writer, wearing black leather and cracking gum, and yet, I end up doing this work over and over again, that is really so connected to the most essential questions of life. It is very soulful.
What I have discovered is that, women nurturing themselves is of such essential importance to who we are because of the way that we have been socialized to take care of everyone else, because of the way our brains are structured and because we are so hard on ourselves. It just seems to be, over and over again the place that the egg cracks open and that life changes start - when we learn to start being kinder to ourselves.
DR: Do you have any special personal practices around self kindness or nurturing yourself?
JL: My Dad just passed away, almost a week ago.
I was sitting on my couch last night with one of my dear friends who brought me food, and we were talking about just how both of us have ended up in this dead end of, for her, self criticism. For me it is the way that I get away from my practices or my self care. That is when I get into this place of feeling like there is not enough time for anything and so I don't sink deeply into anything -- my writing, my art, my spiritual practices -- then I start to avoid the things and I turn the things that most nourish me, into "shoulds" --
"I should do yoga"
"I should meditate"
"I should do some journaling"
And then I don't want to do any of it.
What I notice is, the coming and going of my practices and how, when I go away from them, how dry I get. It is really more painful each time this happens because I really know now what it feels like to be really connected.
My girlfriend said last night that when you criticize yourself for not being connected, that is the ego talking. The way out is to never criticize ourselves back into practicing.
DR: Do you have a primary source of inspiration?
JL: It is absolutely -
As long as I drop into the present, then everything is inspiring.
Yesterday morning I was being present to that particular Northwest fall light on the Japanese maples that people have planted in their yards. I mean that is so inspiring that you almost can't take it all in. How do I even absorb that beauty?
Yesterday I was supposed to speak at an event and I can't do anything right now. I am just kind of numb and sad, so I went to the library to get a bunch of books and that was really inspiring. I found two abstract artists that I had never heard of and I read poems by this wonderful New Mexican poet who I had heard of, Jimmy Santiago Baca. That was incredibly inspiring, to read his poems but at the same time I am fighting this desire to speed up and do more!!
"I gotta get through all of the books I got!!! I gotta do more!!!"
DR: Wow...I am feeling more normal by the minute because I can relate...
So what do you do? How do you manage then, when you are dealing with all of that; the desire to want to be present and then, finding yourself at the same time wanting to "get to it all"?
JL: That is an excellent question.
I am aware of these days is that this whole conversation, this whole feeling is about the ego just wanting what it wants. It will never ever be satisfied. I can almost feel it like a shroud on top of me and then I can feel this other part underneath me that is always present.
The only thing I know to do right now is to keep bringing my awareness to that other part over and over again because everything else is this conversation that I am so tired of. I am exhausted. It is never going to leave me with the satisfaction that I want.
Over and over again in my own life -- and I see it with my clients, at my retreats and conversations on my blog and I get emails - this sense that our lives are essentially really great but that we are somehow not enjoying ourselves.
My life is really great! So, what stands between me and satisfaction; between me and being content? Is it really the fact that I didn't exercise at my target heart rate or is it something a little bit more both simple and profound?
DR: What a great inquiry to be in...
JL: Why am I not content? What is in the way of my contentment?
The one thing that I take comfort in is that I suspect that this question is becoming louder and louder because I am getting to the point where I might be able to separate from it. That gives me some hope!!!
DR: What are you most content with right now?
JL: Well as difficult as it is at times, my relationship with my daughter.
My husband is traveling for four months on a television shoot so she has to rely on just me during this hard time of my Dad dying and her Dad being gone. We have had a lot of sweetness together. I feel a lot of contentment with her now. I don't feel that "I gotta do a better job! I gotta do more!!!"
Yesterday she was babysitting across the street and they have their house completely decorated for Halloween - like to the max! We have nothing. We have a severed limb underneath the mat and that is it. There is not like a candle, there is not like an eyeball...
DR: ...no pumpkin carved or otherwise...
JL: ...nothing' goin' on.
She said to me, about their decorated house
"Isn't this incredible Mom?"
"Yep. That is really cool"
In the past I might have been like
"Oh my God! I gotta go out and buy a thousand dollars worth of Halloween stuff!"
Instead I was like
"Yeah, that's really cool"
thinking that there is no way this is ever going to happen in my house!
DR: Speaking of Halloween, is there anything in particular that you are afraid of?
JL: I am afraid that I will not be present to my life. That is what I am afraid of. Because by not being present there is no way that I can be of use to the world.
I was watching Larry King Live recently when Oprah and Friends were on the day that they launched their XM show. Larry King asked Oprah what her greatest fear was and she said "living up to my own potential". I was just socked in the gut because here is a woman who has done so much for the world. Then I thought "Wow". That really led me to question whether or not I am living up to my own potential.
When I was writing about it the other day, I thought that it is really only about being more present so that, whatever wants to come through me, can come through me. The other thing that I thought about was am I living up to my potential to be kinder. So much of the time when I question whether I am living up to my potential, it gets to be "Oh my God! I have to do more!" This time instead, I was reminded that it is not about being bigger in the world, it is about -
being here, now.
At the same time I am saying this, however, I am thinking about the fact that I have a new book coming out in January and BOY!! YEAH!! I want to be BIG with the book, but I just keep telling myself that I have tried that and it sure hasn't made me happy.
DR: What do you hope that people say about you when you are not around?
JL: People have been talking to me about my Dad this week. I have been talking about him too; to people that didn't know him that well. I have loved realizing about him, that he was of such high integrity. He was also always ready to admit that he was wrong. He was also very humble. That has really made me think about how I want people to remember me.
I want to make sure that I drop whatever it is that I am doing to be there for people when they need me. Even if it is just in a small way.
People have brought me food this week. My neighbor bought me a plant. A client bought me a grieving book...It made me think about whether or not I do this kind of stuff or -
am I just too busy?!!
Right now what I want to think, is that something is said about me being in great relationship to people and that my own desire to be a hermit is somehow mediated with my desire to be connected.
DR: What do you like most about yourself?
JL: I like my sense of humor.
I like my sense of goofiness and I like my ability to make people feel comfortable.
I can go into a place, a meeting or a retreat that I am leading and I am just able to totally be myself. Even when I am goofy or clumsy, I am O.K. with that. I love that about myself! I love that I will skip through the airport or talk to strangers.
DR: These are such interesting times that we are living in and the things that are happening around us are incredible in so many ways and confusing, maybe, in so many ways...Is there some one thing that you believe to be true?
JL: I really do believe that we are all connected. I really do believe that by being connected to each other in small ways in our communities -- that small is the way that we will all survive. I keep looking at the drive for bigger and bigger that we have. I don't think that is the way to go. When we are in conversation with each other, when we are "small" together, then we have some hope.
I love the work of Spiral Dynamics that comes out of Clare Graves because it is a way of looking at how communities and countries and people develop. It is just brilliant.
You look at Iraq and see that it is a tribal country. Most of the world still is and we need to learn to relate to people where they are and to help them to be healthy where they are.
We want everyone to be the same. We are all connected but we are not all the same.
DR: A hundred years from now what do you want to be remembered for?
JL: Being a kind person who had time for the people that she loved and who loved her, and for being a good wife.
I would also like to be remembered as a good writer....
THE SELF-CARE MINDER"When I read your newsletter, I am reminded of a firecracker (or perhaps a butterfly or hummingbird) that lifts, ascends, dances, bolts, darts, zooms, whirls, and spins into a Tasmanian devil-like array of fresh and generative possibilities. I hear sizzling crackles, hums, whirs, and bangs. I see bold fuchsias, cobalt blues, royal golden yellows, and sparkling silvers. I sense fresh ideas lurking behind and within -- intriguing new ways of looking at the world, oneself, or others. Ways to understand and frame one's experience in a Midas-like touch: turning everyday dross into meaningful gold. Ping. Your high quality newsletter feels like a personal friend, encouraging and so helpful as well as interesting. I have a big folder of many of your newsletters and they have been so nourishing to me -- on many levels and in many ways. Thanks for all your inspiration and for 'keeping me going' many a time."
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