Why dreaming big almost cost me my self


I lived in LA in the 80’s when new age and spiritual ideas were flying thick and sparkling new. It was an exciting time. I went to seminars on abundance and wrote checks to myself for a million dollars. I visualized myself being radiantly healthy. I read books, lit candles, downed tinctures, chanted before altars, smudged myself with sage. There was much good: I reconnected with my childhood yoga and meditation practices, deepened my connection to nature through ritual, made a number of dear friends.

But underneath my searching was a secret hope I’d find a magic shortcut to the hard work of building a life for myself.

In my searching for a shortcut, I almost lost myself. Not because the ideas and teachers were wrong (although some were silly – obvious from my examples), but because these various spiritually-tinged technologies were my Cinderella story; I did not want a Prince Charming to save me, but I did want to be saved.

Oh sweet lord, how long it took me to figure out there is no shortcut and that I never needed to be saved. To instead hone in on what works for me, to own my experiences, to value what I value: in short, to trust myself. Slowly, oh so preciously, I taught myself to step away from shortcuts and start faithfully living this life. My life.

To savor and take in what is here now, as well as steadily, slowly build what matters to me. Because it matters to me.

Learning to trust myself has meant learning to trust what I want and to keep asking for support. To dig deep into my desires and keep letting go of what I used to want or think I should want.

It has meant truly understanding that I am a human with limited time and energy and I must make hard choices every single day about where I can put that time and energy. It’s okay to mourn that I can’t do everything, but it’s not okay to pretend I don’t have to choose. Choosing is my art.

It has meant giving up “half-assery” in my work and health, and developing compassionate grit. Declaring, “I will take the slow and steady path of creating what I want, knowing it will not work out the way I imagine, and I will keep figuring out what to try next and following through.” I put my faith not in outcome but in my actions.

It has meant using my own tools that I teach, like Conditions of Enoughness, instead of pretending that magic will happen tomorrow, which allows me to get 17 times more things done than I ever had before.

Drop the ideal, live the real.
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Certainly it has meant making time to digest what I have learned and apply it – instead of moving on to gobble the next book or course, the next “magic shortcut.” And to turn away from the chatter of “endless possibilities,” “everything should be easy” “have your best year ever,” and “write a book in five days,” and focus instead on being my whole self, living with my whole heart, making room at the table for all of my inner selves and desires and fears, without letting anyone highjack the party. Wholeness is my refuge.

Letting myself truly be seen by Bob, by my Brain Trust, by close friends, and being willing to receive feedback – given with love – about what I could do differently going forward. To finally know it truly is great to make mistakes.

* * *

I was having dinner with a dear friend last month and I found myself leaning over the braised cauliflower and fiercely saying, “I choose me. I don’t wait to be chosen anymore.” No more Prince Charming in spiritual “make a million dollars by Friday” clothes. I plant my feet and choose my life with compassionate grit. I know what I want and what actions I will take in 2015.

And if that sounds like dreaming big, well it is my kind of dreaming big.



P.S. If this sounds like something you want to be supported in knowing and building, watch for the Oasis opening this Saturday. It’s not a course, it’s a guided support for a sacred date with yourself.


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Lisa Robbin Young - January 7, 2015

“there is no shortcut… I never needed to be saved.”
Only we can save ourselves, when we choose ourselves. Thanks for the wonderful reminder, Jen!

    jenniferlouden - January 7, 2015

    Thanks Lisa!

Cate Baily - January 7, 2015

So enriched by your thinking and sharing on this. I’ve been seduced by a few shortcuts myself. I love, love, love the phrase “compassionate grit.” Thank you for this post and all that you do, Jen!

    jenniferlouden - January 7, 2015

    ah Cate!

LeifHansen - January 7, 2015

Jen, such a great article –so much in this hurts so good and rings so true, I plan to share it with clients and friends. It’s like a tasty healthy new year smoothie.

TaraBenwell - January 7, 2015

One of my favourite posts by you!

    jenniferlouden - January 7, 2015

    thank you dear!

TThornCoyle - January 7, 2015

Right on!

Deborah Tutnauer - January 7, 2015

Love Love Love!!

“Taking time to digest…”
“Wholeness is my refuge..”

“..letting go of what I used to want or think I wanted”
“Choosing is my art..”

Just today I spoke on the phone to a (male) colleague about choosing a “Good Life” while also doing the hard work of building and running a business. He seemed to hear me, but I could tell there was a disconnect when I talked about working from my heart being connected to a clean kitchen counter and time for tea with friend… That choosing to live a “Good Life” in each moment was much more than making good money, or even impacting growth and change in good people.

As I read this most fabulous post of yours Jen, I could feel the emotion of choosing to live a good life in full alignment without hype and empty promises – relying fully on my heart, my expertise, my passion, my choices!

Thank you,

go of what I used to want or think I should want. – See more at:
go of what I used to want or think I should want. – See more at:

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