“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?”
That’s the premise of a book I just read called The Life Organizer: A Woman’s Guide to a Mindful Year by Jennifer Louden. (It’s a great book for men too.)
I’ve read about living life this way, following the same metaphor of drifting down a river, but I’ve never believed it could be true. I, like many of you, have been programmed that to be successful, I must do more, achieve more, be more efficient and never rest on my laurels. The work is never done.
I’ve lived most of my life this way, taking on challenges just to see if I can do them (I always could). I set goals and either achieve them or beat myself up for not doing so.
At the tender age of 46, I’ve finally figured out that this crazy story is a lie. Life doesn’t have to be this way if you don’t want it to be.
After decades of pushing myself, always living with more stress than I would admit, my body is calling a time-out. Although I eat well, exercise, drink lots of water, meditate and live a healthy lifestyle, my body is telling me that it’s not enough. I need to approach life differently.
I asked the Universe for help in this area and one of the answers came in the form of a request to review The Life Organizer.
The Beginning of a New Story
My body has been screaming for me to find a different way of seeing the world. My go-go, push-push, never enough beliefs/story are killing me.
The tools, exercises and stories in The Life Organizer are just what I ordered (yes, you’re always placing orders with the Universe and the Universe always delivers – usually in ways you wouldn’t expect).
The book isn’t about organizing in the way you normally organize your day. It’s about looking at yourself as a whole person with needs, desires and dreams – not just a machine that checks things off a ‘to do’ list.
In this book, Jennifer holds your hand as you step into the territories your heart has wanted to explore but your mind wouldn’t allow. She opens doors that you didn’t know existed. And she reminds you that there’s no “right” way to do any of it – there’s only your way and that way is constantly changing and evolving.
She breaks the organizing process into five steps to practice when you’re planning any aspect of your day or life:
- Connect – Connect with your physical body and ask it what it needs in the moment.
- Feel – Connect with your heart. Take a moment to notice how you feel.
- Inquire – Connect with your mind. Ask your True Self empowering questions that can open the door to new worlds.
- Allow – Be open and allow whatever answers bubble up from the previous step. No judgment.
- Apply – Apply the wisdom your True Self has given you as soon as possible, even if it seems crazy.
By applying these five steps in your daily decision making, you begin to live your life with intention. You stop running on auto-pilot and start tuning into what makes your heart sing. You stop following what you think others expect of you and start following what’s best for you. You start to float down that beautiful river.
In addition to following these five steps, Jennifer introduces six concepts. “Think of the five steps as your stitches and the six concepts as your pattern. The pattern gives you a guideline and the stitches intimately bring to life – and therefore change – what the pattern has prescribed.” The six concepts are:
- Intention – What you want from your life.
- Life Insights – Lessons you’ve learned from a lifetime of experience.
- Desire – Pure life force speaking to you (that you’ve ignored for too long).
- Shadow Comforts & Time Monsters – Things you do to cover up what you’re really feeling or to keep you distracted from what you really want to do but won’t allow yourself to do.
- Minimum Requirements for Self-Care – What you absolutely must have to stay in touch with your center.
- Story – What stories are you telling yourself about how to interpret your world?
The first third of the book describes these steps and concepts and explains them through examples and stories that I could totally relate to.
The rest of the book is a series of weekly “planners” with questions and concepts to ponder for the coming year. Here are some examples:
- What do I want to say no to this week? (In what situation could saying no enhance your happiness or lead to more time and energy for you? Building your “no muscle” helps you increase self-trust.)
- What might shift if I used the interruptions of my life this week to come into the present moment? (Interruptions are never going away. What would shift if you accepted them as an opportunity to be aware of the flow of life, the moment, the gift of breath?)
- What is my biggest source of stress, irritation or annoyance these days?
- What story am I telling myself about this stressor?
- What are the facts in what I just wrote?
- Given these facts, what might I be open to doing or feeling today that I haven’t done or felt before?
- I’m ready to receive…
- What are the three or four things I think about the most?
- Is this what I want to think about?
- What do I want to receive into my life this week? What gifts offered to me by the bountiful universe am I ready to accept?
- What part of my life, body or emotions wants my attention? What do I wish to cherish and pay attention to?
- I’m ready to let go of…
Life Organizing – Your Way
If you’re like me and have a hard time keeping a book or journal with you, you can go to Jennifer’s site and sign up for the weekly prompts (it’s free). She’ll email questions to you each week with a gentle, non-judgmental nudge to give yourself the gift of time to consider them.
I love this since it interrupts my “get it done” mindset that has me plowing through my emails each day (yes, this is one of my Time Monsters that I’ve been battling with for years). Her emails get me to pause, take a deep breath and consider what’s in my best interest at that moment.
She also offers a couple ways to record your answers, in addition to whatever creative ways you decide to express yourself (journals, paintings, drawings, song, etc.). There’s a private section of her website where you can create your own journal that only you can see. She also offers an app for your phone so you can record your thoughts at any time. Both of these resources are free.
As much as my mind likes to keep my head down and stay busy, these resources remind me of what’s really important throughout my day (and life).
All of these tools help you live your life from the inside out. Admit it. You’ve probably been living mostly from the outside in which your mind said was the thing to do but your heart has always known better.
It’s time to do things differently, make choices differently and live your life differently – in ways that give you energy and joy almost every day.
If you’re too busy to listen to your heart, your True Self, read this book. If you’re tired of living with that uneasy feeling that something isn’t right in your life but you can’t put your finger on it, read this book. If you feel like you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do to be happy but happiness continues to elude you, read this book. If you’re not dead yet, read this book.
It will change your life, if you let it.
I have two copies of The Life Organizer to gift to you if you leave a comment below with reasons why you need this information. I can’t wait to hear from you.
Update: Two lucky winners were awarded copies of the Life Organizer. You can click here: The Life Organizer to order your copy on Amazon.
Jennifer Louden is the author of The Life Organizer and The Woman’s Comfort Book. A personal growth pioneer who helped launch the self-care movement, she’s written five additional books on well-being and whole living that have inspired women all over the world. Visit http://JenniferLouden.com/lifeorganizer for a life organizer app & other useful freebies.
I just found my new favorite mindfulness app: Chill. It's just what I need in the middle of a hectic day to remind me that all is well in this moment and to simply breathe. You can set it to give you up to five reminders a day to be mindful like:
"Take a moment to think of someone you love. Feel that love inside you. Sit silently with that feeling for a moment."
"Feel the silence inside you. Feel how expansive that silence is. You're as vast as the sky."
"You are right here, right now. Don't let your thoughts tell you otherwise. Breathe in this moment."
Chill also provides beautiful daily quotes from Buddha, Lao Tzu and other Zen masters on a backdrop of a peaceful image. With a touch of a button you can also share these quotes via text, email and all the social sites. The app's curator is a Buddhist ordained in the tradition of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. The quotes are based in Buddhist ideas of mindfulness but come from many traditions. They speak about the challenges we all face, and how to mindfully center ourselves in the midst of modern life.
It's free or $1.99 if you want to get rid of the little ads at the bottom. It works on iOS and Apple Watch. You can find out more or download the app HERE.
Have you been trying to start or maintain a meditation practice but life keeps getting in the way? I'm there with you - and I found a solution: Daily Meditation Videos delivered to your inbox every morning. They've been gently nudging me each day to take just a few minutes in the middle of my day to stop and breathe. The creator has done the hard part of culling great guided meditation videos from YouTube and delivering them to you in a simple, beautifully designed email. All you have to do is click, listen, relax and breathe.
The Mindful Body program includes many ideas that you can use every day to avoid gaining extra weight while keeping your energy and spirits high. It’s also a great gift to share with the special people in your life.