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The Life Organizer: A Woman's Guide to a Mindful Year

The Life Organizer: A Woman's Guide to a Mindful Year

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The Life Organizer: A Woman's Guide to a Mindful Year

3/5 (2 ratings)
263 pages
2 hours
Oct 1, 2013


We all yearn to have time for personal needs and creative dreams — after all, this is our life to make the most of. And we all know how hard it is to remember what really matters. With distractions from jobs, aging parents, and children — not to mention women’s perennial fear of being labeled “selfish” — following our own desires and dreams can become ever more elusive. The Life Organizer aims to help you shift your focus, augmenting traditional goal setting with the ease that comes from steady inner listening and mindfulness. It will become your trusted companion — and maybe the most important book you’ll ever own.
Oct 1, 2013

About the author

Jennifer Louden is a bestselling author, certified coach, novelist, and creator of innovative learning events and retreats. She has appeared on numerous TV and radio programs, including "Oprah". Jennifer lives on an island in Puget Sound with her husband, Chris, and their daughter, Lillian.

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The Life Organizer - Jennifer Louden



This book is my attempt to name, and give a form to, one way of living that I see emerging. It’s a way of living in tune with what is, aware you always have a choice in how you react and what thoughts you believe; it’s a way of living where paying attention to your inner knowing and intuition is as important as logic and to-do lists; it’s a way of navigating life that embraces imperfection while heeding your true desires, where enoughness is your benchmark, and delight and savoring thread through it all. Most of all, it’s a way of living rarely more than a breath away from astonishment at the marvel of simply being alive.

This is not a typical self-help book — it’s not meant to be read cover to cover, it’s not offering you advice, and it doesn’t contain a single idea about how to make yourself better than or different from how you already are. Rather, it’s an interactive guidebook, a collection of possibilities to inspire you in creating your way of participating with life and with your gifts. It invites you to use it in any number of ways, toggling between sections, creating your own Life Planner to record responses, depending on what you need or what you are curious about in the instance.

Having said that, here are some suggestions for possible ways to read the book, in case you’re not sure where to dive in:

•      Start with the Mood Shifter (p. 60) to find mindful questions, life-organizing tips, or stories that address the mood or situation you’re in.

•      Follow the questions in the Life Planner pages in order, recording your responses in your own Life Planner notebook.

•      Open the Life Planner at random and choose a question or two that beguile you, irk you, or feel just right. Explore your responses using the five steps (pp. 8–9).

•      Start with the Shape of Life Check-in (p. 224; all or any part of it), especially when you are feeling out of touch with yourself or haven’t been life organizing for a while.

•      Use one or all of the life-organizing steps (pp. 8–9) and the daily questions (pp. 26–28) and weave their insights throughout your daily life, especially when you are feeling off center, unsure, or in need of guidance.

•      Visit for more support, including an app, printable question pages, audios, and videos.

My prayer is that you will take the ideas and questions and stories I’ve collected here and create a life you love. I hope that this book will help you reduce stress, widen your perspective, take better care of yourself, manage your multiple roles, and let go of what you can’t control — and that it will help you live in the sweet spot of self-compassion and action.

This is a book that you will finish by making the process your own. Then perhaps you will share what you have learned on Facebook at Be sure to download all the free support at I host Life Organizer live events often to help you stay connected with yourself and other wise women. Join us please.

What Is Life Organizing?

What if there was a way to organize and guide your life that more closely resembled lying back on an inner tube as the current carried you along (with you occasionally adjusting your course because you want to smell a wild rose onshore or because you hit a bumpy stretch) rather than a furious, exhausting upstream paddle? What if self-mercy and listening to your authentic desires were your truest guides, far more trustworthy than gauging how much you accomplish in a day or what you earn? What if feeling confusion and uncertainty was actually a sign that you were on the right path? What if you could erase your sense of never having enough time or energy by cultivating a constant loving connection to yourself?

I have been focusing on just these questions, both personally and professionally, for more than twenty years. In general I noticed that most people seem to approach the process of organizing (whether a day, a project, or a life) by setting a goal, breaking it down into doable steps, and then staying the course until reaching the bull’s-eye. This method can be very effective in certain situations — I’m not suggesting that you abandon it — but it’s only half the story, and we’re starving for the rest, for a heart-based, spiritually informed, trusting story. We want to make room for, must make room for, chaos and interruption and accept that most of the time we don’t know the big picture and we can only discern what to do one step at a time. This way of improvising our lives is built on our knowledge that we are creating our lives through how we think, how we react, and where we put our attention. We find that the most direct means to create a life that fits us is to embrace each moment as it arises.

I wrote this book because I want to develop this alternative way to shape a life and because it is one way to bring down the Berlin Wall of busyness, the ever-growing belief that to be successful, we must do more and do it faster, a story that is literally killing us. Be warned: this is a subversive way of looking at time. Once you embrace it, you can’t go back. The old models will never wholly fit or satisfy you again; they will always be too much about willpower and force, about your private agendas and the mind’s endlessly inventive stories.

The way I’m proposing in this book is frightening at first. It asks you, over and over, to trust, to loosen your grip on life, to soften with compassion and love toward yourself and others. It asks you to stop and feel, to tune in to what you really want and what you already know. To act with more boldness on your hunches and your values and to track with more clarity the outcomes of those bold actions. To serve all of life. This process is infinitely rich and it requires trust in your own experiences, in your own lived knowledge. Test everything; hold fast to what is good (1 Thess. 5:21) may become one of your mottoes, as might But all shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things will be well, as Dame Julian of Norwich said.

Why is this approach toward creating our lives emerging now? I think it is because of the generation of women who were children in the 1970s and 1980s and watched their parents wear themselves out for a paycheck and are realizing they don’t want to live the same way; because we’re making spirituality part of our daily lives rather than something we do only on Sunday or on the meditation cushion; because we are honoring intuition and other ways of knowing; and because we’ve reached the boiling point. We can’t live in perpetual exhaustion any longer. We realize that our modern lives aren’t totally working, personally or for the planet, so we ask ourselves, What can we create to help us survive and thrive?

Whatever the reasons, more and more women (and some men) are rejecting the overstriving, forcing, rushing, making-life-happen mode and developing a more intuitive yet grounded way to discern and sort the choices available to us. On the surface, it doesn’t always look that different, but inside, it feels like the difference between a business suit and organic cotton pj’s. I believe, with my whole body, that it is part of the change so many of us are already making or are yearning to make, and yet we have little idea how to talk about it, how to build on it, and how to make it practical. Here’s how three women who have been using some of these principles and ideas have described it:

Poppy: It’s about living with greater awareness, cherishing yourself, and finding balance so as to be the most ‘you’ version of yourself that you can be. It’s about becoming.

Wendy: It’s about honor, in several senses of the word: 1) Honor (as in respect) for ourselves, our needs, our bodies, our desires, our wishes. 2) Honor (as in truthfulness and integrity) about ourselves, our needs, our desires and wishes — whether they are ‘good’ or ‘bad’ — and in our behavior with others. 3) Honor (as in recognition and reverence) for the goodness and power within us, for the world’s goodness and power, and for the Great Divine Entity (whatever you want to call him/her/it/them).

Helga: "For me, it is about my search for sustained happiness. Aspects include feeling pleased, content, glad, satisfied, and comfortable. It’s being happy with myself and what I have in my life. I’m on a journey toward resting comfortably within myself, in the sense of being my own safe place or refuge while staying interconnected with all living things. It takes me to the basics I need for the journey. To be consistently happy I need to know who I am (all parts of me, with no judgment); what I want (body, mind/spirit, heart); how I can be who I am (peacefully); and how I can have what I want (without doing harm).

Life organizing is also about supplying the questions that get me there a bit faster. And, since the journey does not have an end, life organizing accompanies my twists and turns to always get me back to the source and to what really counts.

Trust the Life Process

There is a caveat: this new way of creating our lives can get derailed if we connect it to balance, as in, If I could just figure out how to balance all these parts of my life, all these demands on my time, and all these interests, I’d be okay. When we’re in this frame of mind, we’ll always be searching, often more and more desperately, for the holy grail of balance; but we’re never going to find it with the eyes or the tools we’re using. Balance becomes a girdle, a rigid form into which we try to squeeze ourselves so that our lives will (finally!) be the perfect shape and we will (finally!) be right, safe, and on top of things. Yet this notion of balance is a false ideal that moves us further away from wholeness and ourselves. Real balance comes only when we are in loving touch with ourselves.

The new framework that we are hungering for is what I call life organizing. I’ve spent the past thirteen years observing and articulating tools we can use to create humane lives that we love. These tools have emerged out of my work with thousands of women and from observing what friends, mentors, and prominent women in our culture are forging. My search led me first to design a new kind of date book, then to write my last book, Comfort Secrets for Busy Women, and finally morphed into an engagement calendar and an Internet forum. In truth, I kept trying to let the damn project go. Hadn’t I done enough with it? Women were reporting good results. Why couldn’t I leave well enough alone? But I knew there was more to be articulated about this new way of being that I saw so many of us trying so hard, sometimes so desperately, to master. Finally I outlined its principles as follows:

•      A heart-centered intuitive way to shape our lives by listening to the still, small voice inside, by seeing life as the supreme creative act, a wild ride of choosing, improvising, and trusting our desires.

•      An ability to live from the belief —

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  • (5/5)

    1 person found this helpful

    I ordered this book and before I knew it, I had filled 6 pages of a notebook. This was exactly what I needed - not a solution but a process. Perfect!

    1 person found this helpful