The Wonder of Thresholds

You have to come to a threshold before in your life, yes?

No doubt more than once.

Some are bold and clear – take the job, move across country.

Some are painful – end the relationship, move out.

Some are dreamlike thresholds that you aren’t certain even exist – tugs of the heart that flicker briefly in the corner of your eye as you awaken but disappear when you turn on the light.

All thresholds start the same – by trusting that what niggles you is important, real, worthy of your attention. And like “normal” thresholds, these misty ones require declarations too except in the misty cases, what you declare is often a tad less concrete.

Let me share my declaration by way of example. A few weeks ago I wrote in my journal,

“Now is the time to turn from the world and it’s approval to the intention – deeply rooted – to serve your true creative expression. Intention is everything. Act on your behalf in everything. This is the intention: connection and service to your artist first.”

Yes I wrote in the 3rd person. Strange times. Strange times.

When you take the new job across the country, tangible things happen. Contracts are signed, movers come, a new job title is conferred. Declare yourself an artist first or declare yourself a servant of the Divine or smithy to the Gods… crickets.

These inner thresholds, let’s face it: they’re weird. Hard to talk about. They feel pretentious. A first world problem like eating crunchy snacks and not being able to hear the TV. Nice if you have the time but shouldn’t you be doing something a tad more useful? (Don’t quote Jung to me in the comments. I get it, I’m just saying.)

And yet, I bet you have crossed these shadowy lintels yourself, and that you will again. Or perhaps, as I have, you have refused the call to cross, wanted to keep things safe, wanted to say at Thanksgiving to Uncle Henry, “Things are great. Just got a promotion, bought a Beamer, it’s all good.”

Sure beats saying, like I will (although not to Uncle Henry, god rest his soul) this holiday season, “I’m taking 7 weeks off to serve my artist first.” Polite smiles. “Oh yes, and I’m eating intuitively.” More polite smiles. Pass the mashed potatoes, please.

That last bit, eat intuitively, feels so important but so weird. What does it have to do with serving my artist first? Hell if I know! Learning to nourish myself with food has eluded me for so long, and I have known I needed to learn what nourishes me and how to give it myself… somehow I know it’s all woven together.

It’s especially hysterical as the antagonist in my novel eats people’s gifts to fuel her power to rule the world.

So for the next 7 weeks, I’m giving myself the gift of tending my artist. With food and walks and writing and very little email and very little time on line. Silence. Listening. Feeling my way. I’ll share a bit about it as I go – stay tuned.

And speaking of gifts, here are the next gifts I want to give to you today. (Gifts one and two are here.)

GIFT ONE

I made this art. It stands as symbol for my declaration to serve my artist first. I want to give it to one of you, someone who will cherish it as a symbol for your own inner threshold – whatever that might be. Please comment on this post by November 30th, my 50th birthday, and Deb will randomly select one of you. You need to include your email (which is not published) when commenting or we can’t contact you.

GIFT TWO

Rachel Cole is astonishing gifted in the realm of hungers. I turned to her a few days ago to talk about intuitive eating. I recorded our conversation in hopes it would be of use to you. Rachel also offered to give away one of her Wisdom Notes for a Well-Fed Holiday, a lovely email course on creating a well-fed rather than stuffed holiday season. The course runs for almost the exact same time as my “inward eating artist” time so I also thought that was nice.

Here is some of what we talked about:

  • When we feel a hunger, how do we receive it? Are you tight, judgey, shameful, contracted? Or are we soft, spacious and curious?
  • How can cooking be a sensual, grounding ritual that celebrates the wisdom of our hungers?
  • We must be in joyful choice around food and hunger if we are to be our highest self.
  • If we feel panicky around food and graspy to clean the plate, can we slow down? can we act out of love and do whatever would make us feel the best? can we see that years of rules may have left us with a scarcity mentality, which dissipates the more we practice embracing how much choice we have?!

Download our audio chat here: RachelCole.mp3

To win Rachel’s Wisdom Notes, comment on this post but please comment by this Saturday November 17th at 9 am. The course is available for purchase through November 18th. It would be a super lovely gift for you or someone else.

Okay more gifts for you soon – the next one will not be published here at the blog so be on the list my friends. Now off to walk in the woods. I found a new trail! And then out to dinner to explore more intuitive eating! I love it.

Thanks for being with me.

Grab your Sanity Support Kit Here Enjoy the Life Organizer App, Motivational Emails & Journal Prompts

  • http://twitter.com/pattybechtold Patty Bechtold

    Beautiful art. And I won’t quote Jung to you (that made me laugh) but there is an interesting (although dense) book by Michael Conforti – Threshold Experiences: The Archetype of Beginnings. Maybe you’ve seen it?

    I think it’s fascinating how some thresholds ask us to turn toward the world, and others to turn inside. Sometimes I think it’s hard to know which is which, and your words have got me thinking about it. Right now I’m doing “art every day month,” a definite threshold: crossing over to tend (or sometimes it feels like giving in) to my artist for an entire month. But I’m also sharing it with others, and that’s a more ambiguous place for me. It’s both turning inside and turning toward the world. Perhaps, though, it’s the only way I’m willing to tend to my artist right now.

    Lots to reflect on. Thanks! And good luck with your seven weeks (which I bet you know is a universal symbol of completion).

  • http://www.facebook.com/kimberly.w.schauer Kimberly Wininger Schauer

    Beautiful words and beautiful art. The artist in me is inspired by your devotion to creating in every aspect of your life. Keep up the great work!
    Kimberly
    kimberly@thinkdmd.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/aconkey4 Ashleigh Conkey

    Love the artwork! My intention is to shut off the tv & Facebook & do the creative work I want to do! I keep getting stuck in the comfortable & safe! A.conkey4@gmail.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/nicole.goodwin.12979 Nicole Goodwin

    Mmm, Jen, your artwork is touching the depths of the inner work I’m currently doing…I rarely am this moved by someone else’s art. O.k.- this has never happened. Thank you so much for posting it here, I am cherishing it already.
    Wow, this is an incredible, incredible feeling…

    Happy, Happy Birthday, beautiful woman. To a glorious 50 and beyond xoxo

  • http://www.facebook.com/jennbender333 Jenn Bender

    Wow! This post really spoke to me right now. In a little over a month I’m quitting my job to go on a 4 month cruise around the world & some think I’m nuts, but I’m using the time to allow my inner artist to express myself as I hope to do a lot of writing while I’m gone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joni.hammond Joni Hammond

    Hello! I would adore winning Rachel’s Wisdom Notes to guide me through the holiday season’s wildness. I can be reached at Joni.hammond9 (at) gmail (dot) com.

    Have a lovely holiday season. (And Happy 50th!)

  • melissa

    thank you for these wildly generous and exquisite offerings. grateful to and for you. feeling very perched these days…

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  • http://www.facebook.com/anne.gregson1 Anne Gregson

    What a juicy piece of art! Thanks for starting my day with it! Each bit of your sharing is like a courage “fix” for me. I back-burnered my art making this year and am ready to pull it forward and give it a stir. You show me it can be done.

  • Laura Wolf

    Oh, Jen! Thank you for being the nourishment that you are! I have been in this dreamlike place you describe since early October. I am accustomed to creating and producing and living from my FIRE. That all came to an abrupt halt on Oct 1 and I’ve been in the mists ever since. My guides keep saying to me, “Just BE and Just TRUST. It is all coming to you. Your job is to TRUST.” I spent all of October just BEing and just TRUSTing – with daily visits to “Oh my God I need to DO something! Surely I am supposed to do my part. I am so willing to do my part, Spirit. I just want to serve. Just tell me what is mine to do and I will do it.” And the answer always comes back, “Just Be.” I thought, Okay, I can do this for October. I will just be and rest and dream and journal and trust and then my FIRE will come back in November and I will create and create and create. HA! Apparently this lesson in Just Be and Just Trust is longer than a month-long project. I am being asked by my internal guidance to trust bigger, to allow more, to listen even deeper. The Critic keeps saying, “Don’t talk about this with anyone. They won’t understand. They’ll say, “Shouldn’t you be looking for a job?” or “What are you going to DO?” The Critic seems to think that people are dangerous, that he needs to protect me from the opinions of others. So this has been an opportunity to become aware at a deeper level of some of the fear programs running in the background that have kept me smaller than I like to admit, programs like “What will people think?” That one comes straight from my mother’s lineage and I didn’t even know I had absorbed it. And then there are the gifts of speaking vulnerably about this very internal place with a selected few besties and finding that actually the people I am closest to totally get this kind of thing and that’s why I hang with them. Then there is the desire to know the future, know what is next, know who or what I will be on the other side of this, know how long it will last, know if I am hearing the messages from my soul correctly and TRUSTING, TRUSTING, TRUSTING bigger and bigger. Thank you for being the amazingly transparent and beautifully nourishing leader that you are. Thank you for listening to your inner niggles, following them and sharing them with us. I absolutely LOVE your painting and it would look BRILLIANT with the colors in my living room. I would love to receive this womb-like reminder of the magic, mystery and power of thresholds and going within to where all the richest goods dwell. Blessings on your journey and I can’t wait to read your novel! Big gratitude, Laura Wolf

  • http://twitter.com/MeridethCoach Merideth Mehlberg

    Jen – This sounds so wonderful: “I’m giving myself the gift of tending my artist. With food and walks and writing and very little email and very little time on line. Silence. Listening. Feeling my way.” I am so in need of this myself…your words are inspiring to me, to bring more attention to the quietness within myself, to make room to nurture the parts of me that want to be expressed but there is not always “room for” because I’m so busy.

    I would love to win Rachel’s Wisdom Notes so that I can be reminded every day during this hectic season to slow down, be intentional and present, be grateful and just BE.

    My email is mer@meridethmehlberg.com
    Thanks, Merideth

  • http://www.facebook.com/emily.stewart.397501 Emily Stewart

    Such a timely & beautiful post, we need more voices like yours shouting from the rooftops about honouring ourselves, listening deep to what our bodies know & choosing to honour that instead of pushing on through as usual. Thank you! It’s wonderful knowing at least one woman out there somewhere really honouring herself right now, & that there must be many more! Exciting. Thank you xxx

  • Elaine

    I would love to win Rachel Cole’s wisdom notes! What a beautiful gift!

  • http://twitter.com/MaryEPritchard Mary Pritchard, PhD

    I would love win either – or both! :) When I tried to download Rachel’s mp3, it gave me an error message. Help!

    • jenlouden

      Mary it should be working now. Please try again.

  • Terry Jordan

    Jen,

    I love how you are spending the threshold of your next decade here on Earth, the way you are celebrating yourself as a gift to others by giving things away. How cool is that? By the way, being in my 50’s has been my most favorite decade so far. Just saying.

    Intuitive eating is such an interesting response to Uncle Henry. I am learning the same about myself right now.

    Jen, I love your art and would be grateful to receive it as a gift. Thanks so much for taking this time for yourself. Yay, Jen!

    Have a wonderful holiday season. See you next year!

    Love, Terry

  • http://twitter.com/TheGoddessNaomi Naomi Bellina

    What a beautiful painting. Your words are always so timely, and speak to me with exactly what I need. I’m wrestling with a food choice this Thanksgiving, so eating intuitively might be the answer. Thank you. moonlightvirgoATyahooDOTcom

  • http://twitter.com/MarinaSorr Marina Sorrentino

    I love your concept of misty thresholds! I will keep it in mind, thank you!
    have a very nourishing 7 weeks and a wonderful birthday!

  • http://twitter.com/SushiJammies Heather H

    This is so awesome. I would love either of these. The Wisdom Notes would certainly be useful this holiday season, and the art would be a perfect addition to my daughter’s room.

  • Susan Sanford

    I’ve long been fascinated by thresholds and so relate to the challenges around telling relatives at the holiday table what I’m up to. Over the years, most of my relatives have stopped asking or showing any interest in my endeavors. Takes some of the pressure off, but seems even more diminishing than polite smiles. I’ve developed a new capacity to be a compassionate witness with my family and have no expectations of being met…the saving grace.

  • http://twitter.com/edgetocenter Sarah Twichell

    I hope your seven weeks are beautiful and meaningful! (dancingwolfgrrl at yahoo.com)

  • Erin Hollowell

    At first I read “seven weeks” and thought, “wow, I would love to have seven weeks to focus on my writing.” And then, I realized that if I wanted that I could have it (notice I said focus, not focus exclusively, the day job and all still continues). All I need to do is claim it and stick with that intention. Thank you for showing me that I set my own limitations.

    I am crossing into one of those liminal spaces. It feels good to acknowledge that it takes some energy to be fully present to what is there.

  • Heather

    I crossed a threshold without wanting to this fall, by sheer circumstance. It’s hard. So so hard. I desire a sense of acceptance and ease.

    To help myself along I am consciously making space each day to ask myself what I need at that given moment. I have also declared that I will talk out loud (gasp) to my loved ones to debrief my feelings about this threshold. So I can find my way.

  • Svetlana

    Hi Jen!

    I love your e-mails, and I also think its wonderful and timely that you’re taking some time for solitude and to feed the inner artist as you cross this important threshold. Hope you have many adventures and lots of nurturing while doing the seven weeks. I am excited for you.

    The art is beautiful, reminds me a little of Starry Night :)

    svetlana.goretaya@gmail.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/suzie.massey.9 Suzie Massey

    I’m inspired, Birthday Girl! Took a wander over to Rachel’s website, too. I’d love to be entered in the contest! Hugs and Kisses, Mmmmwah!

  • Sérene N

    I recently told my new hairstylist that I’m an artist, as part of what I do. Even though I’ve been doing my art for the past few months, wholeheartedly, shown friends and family openly, that was the first time that I stated that I was an artist. And it didn’t feel ‘untrue’ or weird. It just was. Amazing!

    I love your art piece. I see depth and lightness. I see hope and strength. Good luck with your seven weeks! Happy early birthday!

  • http://twitter.com/WilloToons Willo O’Brien

    Wow… your message speaks right to me, Jen. I’ve been totally holding this paradox lately. Hearing the voice within me that wants what I do “to be so great! Have big WOW! Be ‘Important!” But to who? Is that just coming from an old story of not enough or perfectionism?

    What if instead I just trusted what’s coming through and what wants to come through? Yes. It’s ALL about trusting myself, my message, my voice and ALLOWING it to come through. Being patient and loving and dedicated to me and my voice.

    “Act on your behalf in everything.” Love it. Thank you! <3

  • Caroline Gallup

    Ah… so timely for me. I was just having a conversation today about crossing thresholds in light of the approaching holiday season, traditions, choosing what fits…and what doesn’t. And just being present enough to honor what feels right. Thanks for your post and the opportunities for goodies!

  • http://twitter.com/RiteHereNow Michelle Fave

    Thresholds – ah yes. Thank you for silence and sounds….artist at work!

  • janet

    love rachel and would love to have some of her wisdom!

  • Mandy

    “I’m giving myself the gift of tending my artist. With food and walks and writing and very little email and very little time on line. Silence. Listening. Feeling my way.” <— This is gold. Thank you for making the distinction between inward and outward thresholds.

  • http://twitter.com/talk_birth Molly Remer

    I just love you, Jen! Your words always speak to me in a way that I need. I’m stepping out into my priestess role. I will serve my priestess path first, even though I feel I’m not perfect enough yet or that others don’t understand, but this is the wild song in my own heart and She must be heard and find authentic expression.

  • Barbara H

    Just as Molly said, i love your stuff anf your style. It is consistently freaky how you always write what I need to hear at that moment!!
    Very interested in Rachel’s wisdom!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.quimby.3 Rebecca Quimby

    Wow! I came across your site because of Rachel’s wisdom notes. . and I am so happy i did! synchronicity at it’s best, I am indeed on the edge of a threshold and needed to read this. Thank you!

  • Catie

    Mmm, thresholds. I love this, I also tend to think (lately — like….last 6 months, 2…3..4 years) I live in one giant, gaping threshold after threshold.

    Beautiful work… Thank You.

  • http://twitter.com/Bahiehk Bahieh

    My new motto is: First you nourrish, then you flourish.

    Go for it Jen!!

    xo

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  • http://www.facebook.com/jennifer.kroken Jennifer Kroken

    It’s funny–when I first began to read this post, I looked at the artwork and thought, “how pretty!”. How exciting that it’s being given as a gift! Bravo! It looks like you are serving your artist well.

    I am forever grateful to you because of your Savor and Serve series. You gave me the courage (and the kick in the butt) I needed to start a blog which has been well received–and even recommended to other people as something they “should read” to help them through a tough time.

    Happy Birthday to yoooouuuu!!!

  • Mary

    How synchronous! I’ve just been feeling so like taking about 7 weeks off… :) I think that learning to trust what we most deeply want is the hardest lesson at least for me.

  • katscanlan

    Jen, I became ten years your senior this month on the 19th, and it has been a wild ride, for sure. It seems there is one threshold after another appearing. When I first saw your artwork, it leapt off the screen. What an honor to be able to view it daily as a representation of each threshold, leading to the largest at the door which offers what we wild women long for . . .

  • June

    Wow, what an amazing gift to give away to one of your blog followers. Happy 50th Jen!! I’m excited to see what the new year brings for you & ME!! Have a happy holiday weekend!

  • Deb Nicholson

    This is the year that I turned 50 too. This will be the first full year of my own business, and the year I completed Tara Sophia Mohr’s Playing Big, Hiro Boga’s Be Your Own Business Advisor, Jen and Michelle’s TeachNow and Amy Kessel’s Unfurling. It is the year I started serious soul work on my relationship to food and weight. Its the year I came home to my calling. Next year can’t fail to be awesome! Happy Birthday Jen.

  • Donna

    Thank you so much for all the gifties – and Happy Birthday to you! =) I love the whole idea of intuitive eating – I’ve been doing it for a little while without realizing there was a word for it…I woke up one day in this body of moving, changing hormones and felt the need to NOURISH it for this transition…it is so cool to hear others speak of this, too (I just turned 48). I, too, am an artist and am working to see her as a whole person – not just “his wife” or “their mama” or “her daughter” – does that make sense? Your painting is beautiful – I love the movement in it – you are so generous to offer such a lovely gift! it would be an honor to hang it in my home. Happy Birthday!

  • http://twitter.com/Terranen Karen Coverett

    Jen, you helped teach me the very thing that has been lead me to feel like I’m standing on one of those inner thresholds. When you asked us on the Creative Joy Retreat to ask ourselves “What do I want” and then do that, I never imagined how life-changing that would be. I didn’t realize how rarely I actually stopped to ask myself that question and even more rarely gave myself permission to do just that without wondering whether someone else would approve. I don’t know where this inner path is leading yet, but I do know that I wouldn’t be following that path without learning that from you. May the blessing that you have been to so many people continue to overflow back to you as you celebrate this birthday. Happy Birthday & Big hugs!

  • http://waffle-wednesday.com/ Liesl Garner

    I love the idea of Thresholds. To me, the vision is very quiet, still, me as a little girl, in a long white jammie dress, walking barefoot on hardwood floors, in the darkness of night, getting up for a glass of water, stepping through a moonbeam and suddenly remembering the dream I’d forgotten I had. A rush of memory. Feeling a sense of purpose and direction.

  • angie

    Jen, You are very inspiring… Reading your words just lights me up in ways I haven’t been before. Thank you, and Happy Birthday !

  • Toby

    Jen..your art has me mesmerized. I feel like I am on the threshold of something new. That the extreme challenges/circumstances I have been facing in my life the past few months HAVE to be taking me to the other side of something good and better. I don’t consider myself a natural artist but know the secret to getting thru the threshold has been to journal (and I use one that I started when i discovered your work), to read your comfort book and do the life organizer to find my way to my authentic place.. I wish you a very happy and joyful birthday. I hope these seven weeks serve as an amazing threshold of new things for you,.

  • jenlouden

    Toby you have won my art! But I need your mailing address. Please send it to jen at jennifer louden dot com so I can get this out to you!!!!

    • Toby

      Thank you :) I will use it well!