“What do I have to contribute? I’m no one special.”

Yesterday late afternoon, I made a video about how I savored and served the world yesterday in the face of the Japanese disaster.

I didn’t have the energy to write a post until this morning but the forums were buzzing at Savor & Serve Cafe with “What do I do?” with this magnitude of suffering, and so I quick shared the video with my gals.

Then I woke up this morning thinking, “Don’t share that video on the blog. It’s dippy and flobby and who are you to talk about suffering?”

I made tea and came up here to my studio, wondering what I would write, and found this email from a Cafe member:

I just finished watching your video (twice) and wanted to say thanks for helping me have a good cry. I’ve been holding it in all day in an attempt to keep my daughter calm. I listened to your voice and the tears began. It took a lot of energy to keep myself sitting here listening. I wanted to get up and do something, anything, so I wouldn’t have to feel the sadness and powerlessness and desire to make it all better.

I watched a second time. I can really see those places where I abandon everything, especially myself, in the face of these momumental moments and I suspect I use these as a shadow comfort to keep myself in checkWhat do I REALLY have to contribute? I’m no one special.

How do you get on the other side of that? Can you EVER get on the other side of that?

On a happy note though, I am more frequently saying to myself, “How can I savor this moment?” when I’m feeling overwhelmed or confused or even when I’m not sure how I’m feeling. It’s been very illuminating.

I had to laugh – the voice that says “What do I have to contribute?” is so sly! It’s the critic in new clothes. But instead of telling us not to write or paint or talk to our partner about what we need, it’s whispering, “What do you have to contribute? You’re no one special.”

Since when did we need to be someone special to serve?

Critic, we’ve got your number. We are on s.hero’s journey to authentically serve our corners of the world. We will not hide, we will not collapse, we will not give it to you, and if we momentarily doubt ourselves, like I did today, we have each other to hip check you out of the way.

Roar! Jai! Get the hell out of our way!

Getting to other side of our self-doubt turns out to be the first part of this experiment! Who knew?

Now the video. Can’t see it? Click here.



Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Bahieh - March 12, 2011

Hi Jen!!

I was compelled to check your blog today. I am on a similar journey, except backwards.

Mine could be called Serve & Savour.

I know there is a place of tremendous fear and discomfort in the “&”, the junction of the two. In the past it has always been either or. And the junction carries guilt, powerlessness, extreme grief and a good dose of ‘face your sh**-ness.’

So although challenging I KNOW the journey is worth it.

Read a post I wrote yesterday, still in shock from the news (and knowing that the waves were likely to hit Ecuador, my country of residence). It is raw.


And (not sure if I sent you this already) the background to my story of Serve:


I respect your journey and am so eager that have a part in this conversation because I know it matters.


Bahieh K.

    jenniferlouden - March 12, 2011

    Bahieh, looking forward to reading your posts and hoping that Ecuador is safe — my sweetheart and son are headed to your country in a few weeks for vacation; sending love and really glad to have you as company!

Christa - March 12, 2011

Thanks so much, as always, Jen.

I was in a similar place yesterday, I think. And what became clear is that while we may have lots of reasons we believe we can’t DO something, we can BE something. We can savor what is good, we can love ourselves and those around us, and in doing so, we can send love and light out to those in need…

I wrote about it here. http://www.carryitforward.com/all-fall-down

I’ll post a drawing I am finishing soon. I started it a week or so ago – I had a dream about islands in Japan floating away from each other…

Love to you, and gratitude for all you do.


Kimberly - March 12, 2011

I won’t begin to list all the challenges I’ve been facing lately. They don’t matter, because what you have just gently led me to do is feel the flood of blessings in my life. I feel them by opening to savoring. Thank you Jen from the bottom of my heart. You’re work is…I can’t find the word. You’re amazing. 🙂 ~Kimberly

Doretta - March 12, 2011

I wanted to thank you for shaing.I had feeling of sadness around this,that I did not know what to do with.I stop watching the news replanning it..Enough.So that you for your words and the work you are doing.I’m new to your blog.I just purchased the Life Organizer..that has help me simplify and get clear on what is happening inside.Yestaerday I felt overwhelmed>food shopping,putting it up,straightening up the home…Then i noticed your book and allowed myself a moment.The question was What do I yearn for?In the stillness..all I wanted was to go visit my disabled uncle.So I gave myself permission to do that.The funny thing is,in my getting ready to leave,I put the food up and organized the house with know pressure…Amazing.I look forward to living and sharing this work.Thank You

Lynne - March 12, 2011

Hi Jen,

I received the following quotes yesterday morning from Joel and Michelle Levey:

“Security is mostly a superstition, it does not exist in nature,
nor do the children of men (and women) as a whole experience it.
Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure.
Life is either a daring adventure
or nothing at all!”
–Helen Keller

“The whole idea of compassion is based on the keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings which are all part of one another and all involved in one another…The whole purpose of life is to live by love.”
Thomas Merton

I can send love and compassion to people I don’t know. Meanwhile, my critical voice is saying it’s not enough, they don’t even know I’m doing it, this is useless! But says who? I believe the energy of compassion is real. Aligning my small perspective with that energy is a positive act. Whether or how the people who are suffering are aware of that act is God’s business, not mine.

I love your post, and your video, and I greatly appreciate the opportunity to add my voice.


Anonymous - March 13, 2011

Beautiful message and modeling-of-the-message.

Susan Gallacher-Turner - March 13, 2011

Great message. I felt waves of shock and horror watching lives roll away on my TV screen, while I could do nothing. I didn’t realize until now, how insignificant I felt. Like, who am I? What am I doing? With this precious, precious life all around me?

I commented to my husband and he wisely said, “Every life is significant, and early living thing we do contributes to the whole.”

Mjinsync - March 13, 2011

Hi Jen — I love where you are coming from. I just found you from Barbara Winter’s newsletter and signed up for The Teacher’s Path on March 24th — so looking forward to it now that I’ve watched your video!

In thinking about the disaster in Japan, I found comfort in my belief that none of us leave this earth at the wrong time. That somehow there is a rhyme and reason to it. It looks to us like it must be ‘wrong’ and yet — how can that be? And I thought of all of the hundreds, maybe thousands of people who passed on through this disaster, and that perhaps they are now ‘out there’ guiding us, working with us, sending a pure love to the earth and all of us here.

We really can find blessings anywhere and everywhere. Thank you for your heartfelt words.

Dinah - March 13, 2011

I find myself being more honest with myself as I am able to sit with feelings that disturbe me. I am feeling a shift in my inner life as I do this……and an inner freedom is opening up as I am being honest about what realy matters to me at this point in my life.
I turned 58 last Wednesday and I am wanting to re-affirm my dream and take another action oriented step towards it as my own fairy godmother……granting myself permission to to realy do this for myself…..and the critics mumble in the near distance!! Thank you for sharing yourself with the world! It DOES change the world in ways you don’t even know.

fwainwright@shaw.ca - March 13, 2011

Stumbled onto you just now Jennifer. The words brittleness, collapse, and shadow make me feel an “earthquake” inside. I have trouble with empathy because it consumes me and morphs into a brittle shadow that is consumed with the suffering around me and I collapse into a non- useful person who cannot serve well. I listen to your post about Japan and suffering and how it affects you as well. Thank you for your tenderness. 🙂 – Fern

Brigettebrink - March 13, 2011

Thank you for sharing this post. I am constantly thinking, “I don’t really have anything to contribute and I am definitely not special.” Through your help, I am trying to live a new truth, “I am worthy!” It wasn’t an accident that God put me here in this time and place.

Ronna - March 13, 2011

Authenticity. It beckons, invites, and sometimes shouts, doesn’t it? Beautiful, Jen – as always. And just in case you still wondered: you have SO much to contribute! Bring it!!!

jenniferlouden - March 16, 2011

thank you Melinda!

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[…] then I got home and there was a newsletter in my inbox from Jen, and she said this: Critic, we’ve got your number. We are on s.hero’s journey to authentically serve our corners […]

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