Are You Avoiding Your Heart’s Desire?

I am called to lead you into sun drenched wholeness.

I called to paint a picture of you free from shackles, shame, blame and ill health.

I am called to model a whole-body yes to whatever life brings.

I am called to help you find and live your heart’s desire.

I am called to ask you to consider the whole of the world  & all beings as you live your heart’s desire so that we live in holy communion with all desire.

I am called to write stories that bring you home.

That’s what I’m called to do.

And yes, I’ve been avoiding fully embracing this call. 

So what? Finding and living your calling is all about peeling the onion of your resistance and your sputtering”but but but” until you get to the heart of it.

And then something else gets peeled because nothing about this process is ever ever static or done. Which is such blessed good news.

Which brings me to how I’ve avoided my heart’s desire. See if they sound familiar.

  • “Oh shucks, not me. I can’t do that.”
  • But I have to earn a living (make sure and say this in a whining frantic voice.)
  • But ______ is working, I’m making money/people like it, how can I stop now???
  • If I had done ____ better in the past, I would have more money/bigger reach/knowledge and then I could really go for my heart’s desire. But since I didn’t…

I’ve spent far too much time wishing I could have a big do over and wrap the past in perfect, pleased everyone, and made lots more money so I could now risk everything while maintaining my comfortable life.

Yes I have had great success, yes I do have money in the bank, and the point is not reality, the point is what gets in my way. I’m sharing my mess here so be gentle.

Besides, you know what’s so hysterical? The past does not matter. The S/hero’s journey happens now.

Following your calling means no guarantees.  It requires real risk, not Disneyland or movie montage risk. To find and live your unfolding heart’s desire, your deepest truth, requires burning.

It requires falling in love with your own mess, with whatever feels like a huge ugly pain in the ass. It requires saying yes to all the ick. 17,000 times yes.

It requires being committed to living your truth more than anything. Even more than your own comfort. Certainly more than your own ego.

And that, my darling, is why I have hedged my calling, avoided it, played the edges.

I’m ready to peel my heart open another layer. How about you?

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Kim Switzer - November 8, 2011

I say all of these things to myself, plus some.  My favorite is, “I don’t think I actually know how to do {heart’s desire}.  I don’t think I’m capable.  I haven’t learned enough, I messed up too many opportunities to learn it in the past, I can’t do it because I don’t know how, so I can’t even try.”

I think just bringing ourselves back to the acknowledgement that we are avoiding our heart’s desire, just looking at the ways we do it and gently answering them with, “But it’s still okay to try, it’s good to try, and you don’t have to do it all at once.  Just try a little,” is a great way to peel away those layers.

Thank you!

Renee Casterline - November 8, 2011

Thank you Jen for your post, and Kim for your comment. This is all so true. I’m experiencing the wake up call to live fully as the person I am, not as the person I think other people want me to be. For me this means taking risks, going to a place of discomfort as I stretch myself. It means committing my heart to things that I want to do, simply because I want to do them. Without justification to others. Without explaining myself.

And what I’m noticing is that when I live my truth, when I am completely absorbed in talking about what I’m passionate about (namely, local food), people listen to me, they want to hear what I have to say. (My loved ones keep pointing this out to me and reaffirming that this really is true). I’m learning to believe and trust that its good to live this way in the world, to let myself be seen. I’m learning to take chances, to talk about what I love rather than little things that really aren’t important to me. I’m learning to let those little things slide away, so my intention, attention and energy can be focused on those things that I love, that are true, that are nourishing to my heart.

Jen, your work has been of tremendous help. So has the work of Brene Brown. It’s great to know that this kind of affirmation and sharing is out here, to provide some comfort on this path. 😉

Renee Casterline - November 8, 2011

Black Swan,
When you said “after spending a lifetime as an outsider” it pulled at my gut. I’m your age, and a lot of my life I’ve felt outside – sometimes by choice, sometimes not. This spring I did a workshop that had a component where you had to pick a side (a group of people) to join with. I chose to stand alone. Later I said something about not fitting into a group and the course facilitator said, it’s not that you don’t fit into a group, it’s that you haven’t found your group. That changed my perspective a lot. And it helped draw to my attention the people I do feel comfortable with, the groups that I do want to fit into. Like this one.

I’m glad you’re feeling so encouraged and supported. 😉

Three Truths and One Wish « A Thousand Shades of Gray - November 8, 2011

[…] Jennifer Louden, mother goddess of comfort and wisdom, wrote a blog post just today called “Are You Avoiding Your Heart’s Desire?” Gulp. yes. In the post, she says “To find and live your unfolding heart’s desire, […]

Anonymous - November 8, 2011

“I’m ready to peel my heart open another layer. How about you?”

I am in, all the way in, ready to burn and peel some onions, and I have declared it publicly: 

Yael - November 8, 2011

Hi Jen,
Do you read Stephanie Lee’s blog? She just wrote a beautiful post about saying yes to something that was calling to her heart, and it made me think of you…and of savoring and serving…and…here you go, in case you haven’t seen it:

    jenniferlouden - November 9, 2011

    Thanks Yael!!!

365give - November 8, 2011

Great post Jennifer. I felt the same way and twice in my life I had to make choices to follow my heart. My first was to go into the fundraising business as I wanted to use my skills to raise money for not-for-profit and then it was just a year ago. I have followed my heart give back and it brings me so much happiness. I hope many are inspired to read your post and follow their hearts calling. 

    jenniferlouden - November 9, 2011

    yeah for your calling! wooting and waving yeahing and cheering over here.

Debrakhopkins - November 8, 2011

i so relate to what you are saying….
i wonder why it has taken me so long to realize that who i am and how i am is fine —
i am perfectly imperfect.

i love teaching, interacting, sharing
creating, laughing

My Garden Girlz classes ~ and my My Creative Heart classes  
allow me to CHOOSE JOY every day

being an insurance agent provides me with a living
it’s boring, and difficult and not so much fun
it pays the bills

i wonder if i can or will step out of my comfor zone
and go for what i am passionate about……

so = tell me
why is there not a “lazy girl” chair?
is it because girls are not allowed to be lazy?
i do my best thinking and best writing
in my lazy girl chair — i even sleep there

i grew up KNOWING that lazy was a very bad thing
knowing that being a human doing and racing
meant i wasn’t lazy, wasn’t a slacker

so – tell me what’s wrong with being a lazy girl
letting myself enjoy the luxury of doing simply nothing
but gathering wool, while i dream of a different life
that has nothing to do with INSURANCE
do people buy insurance because of fear?
i prefer to live a life with no fear…..
a perfectly – imperfect life with joy – every day
joy in simply BEING.

debra kay  

    jenniferlouden - November 9, 2011

    write the story of the gifts of the lazy girl or the lazy chair and then live it – look for the facts of what comes out of time in the lazy chair – the shifts, the ideas, the connections – and then use those facts – and the new story – to work with the voices in you that say the lazy chair is bad bad bad. And you know, having a day job can be an incredible blessing. i have often wished I was employable so that my calling (or dharma) didn’t have to also create income. You can phone in your insurance work so your soul can play in the fields of delight… or not. Just a thought, my friend!

jenniferlouden - November 8, 2011

what would you say to me if i said these things?

    Mary Montanye - November 9, 2011

    I’d tell you it’s only too late if you don’t start now.  I’d tell you that the world needs your brilliance (as Tara would say), and I would give you a big hug as I sent you on your way.  So I’m doing that for myself, you wise woman, you … xoxo 

    P.S.  Lots of work done this a.m.  More this afternoon.

fiffles12 - November 9, 2011

this is wonderful. I needed this I think, as another layer slowly comes off. Thank you!

    jenniferlouden - November 9, 2011

    layers away! you are so welcome.

Tara Sophia Mohr - November 9, 2011

Jen, I love you and I love this. 
There are so many lines here that struck me in their power and truthFinding and living your calling is all about peeling the onion of your resistance and your sputtering”but but but” until you get to the heart of it.It requires falling in love with your own mess, with whatever feels like a huge ugly pain in the ass. It requires saying yes to all the ick. 17,000 times yes.It requires being committed to living your truth more than anything. Even more than your own comfort. Certainly more than your own ego.Ummm…and can we talk about that incredibly potent unique gorgeous text that came out about YOUR calling???



    jenniferlouden - November 9, 2011

    thanks for making my morning beautiful!

    jenniferlouden - December 9, 2011

    did I never say thank you YOU you yOU for your calling? I did not but I do in my heart all the time.

jenniferlouden - November 9, 2011

your belief in me is so precious and central to my claiming and committing to my own radiance so thank you is not enough but thank you!

Susan - November 9, 2011

Jen, thanks for this another beautiful invitation to keep peeling my heart open another layer.  I couldn’t go to sleep last night….something deep within me is calling, and I let so much get in the way.  At the top of the list are “how will I make a living with this?” and endless variations of not enough:  I don’t know enough, I’m not good enough, ad infinitum.

Jnana Q - November 9, 2011

Dear Jen,

I’m in the midst of a complete transition, including a name change. I don’t know whether that will percolate back to my mundane life, but it might…

My life is pretty awesome. I live in a beautiful place. I have my own house, and in back of my own house, I have my own office. I got to live in the country for the last five years, and I got to spend lots of time with my children. I am surrounded by love and laughter.


And I live in the middle of nowhere, and I have no tribe. And I am talented and experienced teacher, and I have no students. And the unemployment rate here hovers around 40%, and nobody will hire me to do any of the things that I already know how to do, that I do very well.

It is as if I am being pushed to do more. This is not my stage, this tiny island in the North Atlantic. I’ve tried here for five years, and everybody wants to put me in a box that is just too small.

But I feel like I’m being pushed to do more on my own, or to stop taking more courses, or stop going to just one more workshop. The comment you put on Tara Gentile’s blog some weeks ago about people who just don’t seem to get going, no matter how many programs they take… that could have been about me. I’m the “One more degree, one more diploma, one more self-help program, and then I’m REALLY gonna go.”

Here’s the worst part: I’m already completely qualified to do exactly what I love. I used to teach university professors how to teach. How to teach workshops, how to construct courses, how to create vibrant online learning communities, how to think about thinking, and learn about learning. I even used to be an internet programmer! I have No Excuse!!! I don’t have tech problems, I have no day job, and I have a supportive partner who is willing to keep paying the bills and take care of the kids while I go teach in other places or stay up until all hours writing and writing and writing until something catches.

All I’ve been looking for during the last 5 years is permission.

Here’s my trap (or one of them): Despite the awesomeness of my life, I have had no income of my own since we left the city. Everybody here wants me to volunteer, or work for $10 an hour, because that’s what middle class women do in this area. And because I have no income, my mind (or at least the evil slug who lives on my shoulder) says, “See? Nobody wants your stuff. Nobody will pay you for THAT! It’s worthless…” (and by extension…)

The last few weeks, I’ve just taken to talking out loud to the evil slug of despair: “You! You are wrong. You, my dear, are the voice of ego. This part of me that has confidence and knows my capacities? The part that comes out to play at conferences and workshops? That is where courage dwells. That part knows something you don’t.”

Now my comment’s longer than your original post. I do that. I talk a lot, too.

Here’s the short version: Yes.

Mindyjhedley - November 9, 2011

Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes to every thing you have said here today.  
I have heard the phrase, “What are you being called to?” in my head and in my heart for a long time now.  But I keep resisting.  For ALL the reasons you enumerated here.  Is it time for me to get an onion peeler?

Ingrid - November 9, 2011

This is so beautiful Jen, “I am called to ask you to consider the whole of the world & all beings as you live your heart’s desire so that we live in holy communion with all desire.”  I was blessed to have a coaching session with you a few weeks ago, and for lack of preparation on my part (like how to best spend this most awesome hour of inquiry) we focused on how I might make more money in my business.  What I’ve realized since then is that this sort of question doesn’t give me any energy- money (even though more would be really helpful) will never motivate me in a useful way.  Comsidering the whole of the world and all beings as I live my heart’s desire- now that gives me the most delicious feeling of energy.  Thank you for all that you are standing for, and giving voice to, and loving. ~Ingrid

    jenniferlouden - December 9, 2011

    I wondered about that! I wish that I had switched horses with you as I could feel you weren’t needing it… and do remember we need to take care of ourselves in the giving most darling talented loving one.

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KarenTalavera - November 17, 2011

Beautiful, simply beautiful! Sigh. Deep inhale and exhale.

I know this too well, but in slowly peeling the onion and tentatively embracing my heart’s desire I have come to learn to stop romanticizing it and accept it in its wholeness – the bliss and the mess all! And as you so truthfully said, the “saying yes” through all the fear and ick, “17,000 times yes”.

This makes me ponder how we at least in Western culture romanticize everything we want (or think we want) – love, marriage, kids, wealth, fame, change-the-world impact, success. I see people every day think once they attain said desire, life flows on in infinite rose-colored-lens perfection. The truth is quite the opposite of course – everything is more than one thing. Everything is yin and yang, black and white, two sides to every coin. You take a step up and the bar is raised anyway. Truly wanting whatever it is you want means wanting and accepting it ALL and knowing that the wanting will probably never end.

How did we get here? Too many Cinderella stories? I don’t know but often wish our culture embodied a more “both/and” mentality like I’ve seen in some Eastern cultures than our current “happily ever after” myth. If it did, maybe we’d all be avoiding our heart’s desires a little less?

Thanks for this, it helps me and probably everyone reading it and going for their heart’s desires feel a lot less alone in the process. Hugs to you.

jenniferlouden - December 9, 2011

love love love love love

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Jaymia22 - June 15, 2012

Trying hard not to cry. I miss myself. I miss knowing myself and my calling. 

    jenniferlouden - June 15, 2012

    you can have it , you can hear it it is totally possible!

Jen - July 14, 2012

Say yes. 

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.

-e. e.
cummingsJennifer, You rock!!

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