There was a time


There was a time when making lists of my intentions, of what I wanted to create, accomplish, feel, was the right thing for me to do.  I would proclaim – in positive language but of course – all that I wanted to create, experience and feel. Craft my intentions. Choose my word. I would use the phrase “May I” to frame my desires as requests to be blessed.

There was a time for that and, for now, that time has passed. It isn’t that these ways of dreaming and planning are wrong – I wrote two books about this way that I love and still read. But I read in a different way. For something has shifted for me and I found every time I tried to plan 2013, I got sleepy.

I read back over my plans for 2012 and felt silly. It all sounded so full of… shall we say hot air?

Maybe this is a function, a natural healthy function, of getting older and maybe it is a touch of depression lingering from the holidays but honestly, what it feels like is a grace, an invitation to become more fully myself.

  • An invitation to careful listening not because I am asking “What’s next?” but simply because I want to pay attention.

  • An invitation to be who I am today rather than who I may become.

  • An invitation to be nourished by my limits rather than railing against them until I flop to the ground in spent exhaustion.

  • An invitation to learn to be seen and loved for who I am rather than who I thought I would be, should be.

  • An invitation to savor and serve in the way that feels more alive and real right now.

I share this with you because the dominant story of our time is “bigger, faster, more famous now!” It’s very seductive, and sometimes, bigger (etc.) is what you want and this story supports you to grow – to get out of your way, to live into your genius. When this is so, then I say Yee-haw!

When this is not, however, what you need or want, the dominant story can pull you toward exhaustion, tempt you to leave yourself, to want what everybody else wants right now (even if they don’t really want it either). If that is ever the case for you, come on over and make a cup of tea and then we’ll go for a long walk in the woods and marvel at the ferns and the thick green moss on the old vine maples. Just because.

Here are my guiding questions to help me deepen this period, this time:

What gives me joy?
What calls to me when I am freed of having to be somebody?

What questions are guiding and sustaining you these days? Do you need the story of bigger to help you or the story of another way? I would, as always, love to hear.



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Doll Creelman - January 2, 2013

Those are 2 great qusstions. I’ll carry them with me as my year opens new possibilities. Thanks for sharing.

Deirdre Walsh - January 2, 2013

This just changed my perspective on 2013.

~ An invitation to be nourished by my limits rather than railing against them until I flop to the ground in spent exhaustion.~

Thanks Jen for stepping out of today’s raging river of fixitis and reminding us to savour what is.

drmolliemarti - January 2, 2013

Walking this one with you, Jen. I *always* do extensive end-of-year debriefing and new year planning…vision boards with my girls…the whole 9 yards. This year: naught. Wasn’t feeling any of it — and surprisingly (or not), neither were my daughters. I’ve spent the past couple weeks immersed with loved ones, devouring books, praying, playing, and paying attention to the “little things” that bring me the greatest joy.

Wrote my Accountability Partner yesterday saying I have no 2013 goals to send because I’ve spent more time gazing at my family and savoring joyful moments than planning. Her response makes me think that our new path will be holding each other accountable…to nurturing close relationships, spiritual growth, and guided ease. A new paradigm that feels so right.

An interesting footnote…creativity began pouring out of me this afternoon…the type that pulls me forward instead of me trying to push it. It’s going to be a fascinating year. Thank you for leading the way/sharing the journey. Much love!

Karly Randolph Pitman - January 2, 2013

Sweet, dear Jen. Loved this (and the art!) I love your tender, quirky wise heart, your strength to say what you believe and feel – even if it goes against the cultural grain.

The question that is guiding me is this: How can I care? (Because so much of my m.o. is about controlling, not caring…trying to guarantee a certain outcome or experience!)

And the refrain that is beating in my head is this: You are completely loved, just as you are. (Because I still have a tender, young part of me who believes this isn’t so, and she needs to be reminded, over and over, that she has been loved from the beginning… )

And what keeps me going when nothing else does, the guiding mantra for my heart and body and soul is this: I will not make war against my own heart.

I will not make war and I will do my best to care for my tender being.

XO, Karly

Jessica Morrow - January 2, 2013

This was SO timely for me to read. Last year, my “word of the year” was “expansion,” and I expanded beyond my wildest dreams. This year, without much analysis, but rather by a process of intuition, I selected “softness” as my word for the year. I’ve done so much work with coaches & other awesome women, and read & learned & worked at “playing big” and “dreaming big.” And I think dreaming big is awesome, but I feel like I’m in this organic, intuitive process of creation right now. I don’t know what I’m going to create next or how I’ll pay next month’s rent. I just want to soften into the possibilities and let them flow.

Sally Stevenson - January 2, 2013

Happy New Year Jen and thank you for your generous and sensible words of love, light and encouragement. You are a beautiful soul lighting the way for all of us! Your words just resonated with my every cell! Thanks also for the gentle permission to enjoy our lives and remember who we are, no matter what seems to show up to alter our actions. I will save this post to re-read, throughout the new year, as a reminder to stop and slow down!

NancyJane - January 2, 2013

Thank You Jen. I have been struggling the past few days with why 2013 doesn’t feel as magical or as full of hope and promise as years past. You put into words what I am feeling AND gave me a wonderful new way of looking at it. I too am struggling with a parent who is losing the battle with Parkinsons and Dementia and I admit I too am struggling with depression around that and other things. Yet, I am the Live Happier girl–and it is a wonderful reminder that living happier means embracing where I am and most especially as you said

An invitation to learn to be seen and loved for who I am rather than who I thought I would be, should be.
Thank you for putting into words what I have been struggling to do–the best gift in the world is to feel less alone.

Emily - January 2, 2013

Love this Jen, totally resonated with me. We can get sucked into believing that this year “things will be different” – which is usually code for bigger, better, brighter, new me!

I love these two guiding questions, and might use them myself 🙂 would perhaps also add – how do I feel physically, mentally and emotionally right now? How can I honor this?

Happy new year 🙂

Brandy Walker - January 2, 2013

Ha, well first I must admit that I am not quite where you are and am very grateful to sit in a wide space full of future-minded dreams, BUT, this definitely got my attention:

“An invitation to be who I am today rather than who I may become.”

YES. Thrilled to be invited there. Thank you, dear Jen. I needed that today.

Nancy Land - January 2, 2013

I have felt this way for several years and yet I have tried to make myself wrong. Bless you for publishing this!

Jill Colorfulheart - January 2, 2013

Thanks Jen…I find it curious how often my point in life’s journey seems to mirror yours. Just this evening, I was talking with a friend about how I am realizing that for this time I think I am in a place of “being” not of “doing”…and I’m terrified of not having a specific role to be focused on. Your words were an encouragement to lean into this time of being…

Waverly Fitzgerald - January 2, 2013

Do you realize that when your message shows up without the image displayed the question becomes “There was a time virgin.” I like that idea. That we could start over with our attitude towards time and you open the door to show how to do that by just embracing where we are and what we feel moved to do. It’s so hard for me to let go of all the many things I want to do but I will carry your question about What calls to me throughout January. (I give myself at least a month before I make any resolutions! Not that I call them resolutions either. Pledges to the year.)

Dianne Doyle - January 2, 2013

Jen I so agree with what you have written. I lost my job last October. I was lucky to be given a severance so I have had some time at home. While I have been at home instead of enjoying my days and doing all those things I have wanted to do, I spend them trying to figure out what job am I going to do next, feeling bad about myself because I do not want to do what I have done for the past 20 years. I spend my days feeling that I have to show accomplishments at the end of every day or it was not a worthwhile day. Your invitations have given me the words I was trying to find for how I want to live the rest of my life. Thank you.

Filiz Telek - January 2, 2013

Thank you, this resonates with me!
although I did take some time to sense into the new cycle or rather map visually what I have been sensing already…
my questions are ‘what gifts do I have and am willing to offer to the world right now?’ and ‘how can we support one another in offering our gifts to the world?’

OceanPrincess - January 2, 2013

“The story of bigger, faster, more famous now” has worn me out. I’m tired of making comparisons and trying to ‘keep up with the Jones’s.’ Just WHO are these Jones’s anyway? 🙂
I like this story better…smaller, slower, more simple and sweeter with time.
Two questions I’m keeping in mind as I gently enter the social-media world again in 2013 and consider how I’m living my life every day;
Why am I doing what I’m doing?
How does this make me feel right now?
Happy New Year to you, Jen!

Sharon Rosen - January 2, 2013

Thanks, Jen, for keeping it real as always. I have never been one to make big plans and lists of potential/desired accomplishments, and mostly I’m OK with that. But seeing or hearing what everyone else is doing (and isn’t Facebook just the best place to see all of everyone’s shiny, happy lives?!?!?) sometimes makes me feel like I’m a bit of a slouch, albeit a mindful slouch. I published my first book last year, so that was a great accomplishment; and I did create a lovely collage yesterday that is less a vision board and more an uplifting visual representation of being-ness that I often embody and sometimes lose sight of — hence the collage to look at so I can remember.

Here’s to a year of being present, blue when I’m blue, joyful in moments when I feel joy, open to the whole play of light and dark and millions of shades in between. So much more interesting that way…l’chaim!

Darrah Parker - January 2, 2013

An invitation to be nourished by my limits. YES. That statement is so freeing and exactly what I needed right now. I have no guiding word for 2013 and like you, making plans and dreaming big just makes me want to crawl in to bed with a tub of ice cream. Instead, I will return to your guiding questions. They feel just right for right now. Also, reading this makes me feel even better about attending your retreat on Saturday. I’m ready to take care of myself in a quiet and simple way. I’ll leave dreaming big to others for now.

Tea Silvestre, aka Word Chef - January 2, 2013

I’ve been in a bit of a funk since early Fall of ’12. Mostly because of disillusionment around some folks I thought were my heroes. Finding out people are human sucks. But it’s also a gift. And it got me thinking too about why I should even follow these people and listen to their urges to be bigger, better, fan-effing-tastic. Seriously. I haven’t set any goals this year. I haven’t even come up with a word. But what I did do was set an intention to explore my feelings about this whole thing a bit more. In my case, it’s all wrapped up in my business and my 20+ years of marketing. So who am I if I’m not who I thought I wanted to be? Ha! Your last question feels SO goooood. Once again, thank you for the right words at the right time.

Patty Bechtold - January 2, 2013

What a lovely way to describe the shift a lot of us are experiencing. It started for me a few years ago and some of it is about getting older but there’s more than that, I think. I like how you say it’s about becoming more fully yourself. I don’t have any guiding questions right now but I’ve been sustained lately by this quote from William Saroyan: “In the time of your life, live.”

Reply - January 2, 2013

‘for in this time of awakened beauty…I sit sustained in my deepest authenticity…I
share my love my depth my courage of the truth of me…and journey onwards with thee’ divinity of pure and simple authenticity Jen 🙂 thankyou for the words and sharing that poked this reply from me.:) Jae xx

Tiffany Dreher - January 2, 2013

Thank you for such a thoughtful post. I have been dwelling on a guided word for this year, and acceptance has stood out for me, although I haven’t really settled on it yet. I really liked your questions though, especially about the one about joy. I paused for a moment this morning, looking at the ornaments on our tree, and the JOY ornament was centered where I glanced, and now you are talking about joy here. Very cool. A great guiding question. Thank you for putting it out there, while acceptance was threaded throughout.

Karen Blackburn - January 3, 2013

Well bigger is definitely NOT in my plans!!! Thank you Jen – I have felt intimidated by all the posts about picking my word for the year (can’t think of one), reflecting over all that happened last year (not much – or not as much as everyone else seems to have achieved) and setting goals for next year (I haven’t a clue), so it’s refreshing to find someone who is looking forward to just ‘being’, someone who wants to be comfortable in their skin and enjoy life – so thank you for helping me find my intention for next year!

Ann Barczay Sloan - January 2, 2013

Boundless thanks to you, Jen! Your words — the spacious permission they provide — are profoundly wise and life-affirming for those of us (such as myself) who have for many years now have chosen to not proclaim “resolutions” and “goals” and “intentions” for each new year — and have felt somehow deficient, unhip and unambitious (even though more at peace!) as a result. Yes, we appear to be slackers: “not with the program” of those glittery people who are always striving forward toward the Bigger. We non-goalsetters follow our hearts that simply want to live and BE and savor the joy and trust the unfolding of the Mystery. I could go on and on –but I’ll stop here and say THANK you for your wisdom and your loving support validating the pure BEING that each of us BE / ARE singly and also in our connectedness.– In addition, a deep thank you to each and every one of you bright spirits who have commented here with such beautiful, heartfelt sincerity. Namaste’!

Emmanuelle Lambert - January 3, 2013

Thank you Jen for this post, very timely for me too. The thing is, I’ve been fighting who I am for a long time, and now is the time to be this person I feel inside of me: the leader who dreams big, yes, but naturally – I am not sure it makes sense as I am writing this 😀 What I mean is I want to be big my way, not because someone else said it had to be and it had to be their way. Much love to you.

    jenniferlouden - January 3, 2013

    Emmanuelle – it does make sense and please don’t think I mean in any way that dreaming big – whatever form that takes for you – isn’t perfection too. I hope I didn’t give you that idea! I want your vision in the world and there is so often that we don’t dream at all because we are afraid. How to balance that with ease and listening? Sounds like that is what you are doing! Happy Newer Year!

Jennifer Wolfe - January 3, 2013

Thank you. Pay attention…I really, really try. Right now I keep coming up with courage…how that manifests in my decisions to do or not to do. What feels right at that moment isn’t always right in the long run, but to pay attention….yes, I think so.

Katie - January 3, 2013

This resonates with me. I love the question, What gives me joy? Planning and “goal-ing” has never worked for me. I started choosing a word or three last year. This year I am luxuriating in finally feeling like I am enough in every single way. It’s marvelous and I am taking it with me throughout 2013. Happy New Year.

bjmwriter - January 3, 2013

Aaaaaahhhhhhh and YES! The sweet and delicious goodness of Being. Of in-the-moment. Of sufficiency. Thank you for the all-ways-potent reminders. May 2013’s rain of blessings nourish our hearts and feed our souls.

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Beth - January 3, 2013

“An invitation to learn to be seen and loved for who I am rather than who I thought I would be, should be”
I find this so interesting, because what I have run into again and again in the place where I currently live, is that people meet me, meet this person that I am now and they want to change me. They want me to be like them, to follow their path, rather than respect my chosen path. Over the years I have been completely clear in an informational way about who I am, but everyone I meet seems to think I need “fixing” because I’m not a Buddhist, or I don’t have a guru, or I don’t follow XXX, or whatever their thing is. So my experience has been that living an authentic life doesn’t necessarily compute for those around you. Fortunately, my family understands and I am more than happy with who I am. I may not love where I live or other circumstances of my life from time to time, but I’m definitely happy with who I am.

Juli Ford Alhadeff - January 4, 2013

I really appreciate this, Jen. For a few years now, when facing the idea of answering questions for myself that sound like “where do you want to be in five years?”, I have been left with this exhausted feeling of “ugh!”. And I used to LOVE answering those questions. These days, I am so much more interested in asking myself- WHO do I want to be RIGHT NOW, TODAY? And just BE with that. But it has been a weird transition and I have sometimes wondered if it was being tired or feeling a little down that took the thrill out of that old question…but….now I don’t really think so….xoxoxo

Sue Kearney - January 4, 2013

Jen, it’s a trend, it seems. I too have felt less connected than before to my annual Vision Board and goals/intentions review. Instead, it’s about one word for me. I’ve been asking for clarity around this for over a week, and it came to me this morning. My word for 2013 is (ta-da!) Heal. And that’s healing me and bringing the healing energy to my work with my clients.

Thanks so much for bringing it, as you do!

Love and light,

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Sonia - January 6, 2013

Jen, I so appreciate this. I am so tired of pushing, and being told to be more “positive”, more “solution oriented”, to be more or less- always something different than what I am in this moment. I am finally learning to trust myself. My New Year’s resolution is to watch where I abandon myself and gently make different choices where I can. I love you’re questions- what gives me joy and what calls to me when I am freed to be somebody. How wonderful to get support on this. It is rare at this time, in this culture- Thank you.

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