“I had to create a new way of dealing with the overwhelm after trying to squash my life into organizing systems that didn’t fit and didn’t help.” – Jennifer Louden
I’m used to reading books cover to cover, so The Life Organizer by Jennifer Louden threw me for a loop. Decidedly non-utilitarian, I found the book disconnected and disorienting—at first. I set it aside in mild frustration. But amid the dozens of books, audios, DVDs and decks strewn about my house waiting to be read/heard/viewed/reviewed, The Life Organizer kept calling out to me. I just HAD to pick it up…more than once.
Apparently, I didn’t take the author seriously when she wrote:
“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.”
Ahhhhh…something different. An approach from the right brain—a place of intuition and heart-centered, body-honoring knowing, instead of the usual left-brain “do this or else” analytical approach.
Ms. Louden acknowledges that living from the inside out may feel like “we’re making it up as we go along”—and this is perfectly normal. In fact, her method of life organizing is “fluid and flexible improvisation”—it is “always evolving and is unique to you.”
So I delved right in to The Life Organizer—randomly and frequently—and wouldn’t you know it…I found exactly what I was looking for every time! It was uncanny how I stumbled on relevant anecdotes, observations, or questions for contemplation.
For example, I turned to page 9 and my eyes fell on “Without action, without decision, you remain in possibility, which is safe and beautiful but eventually enervating and boring.” Holy endless possibilities, Batman! This hit me exactly where I was at the time. Although I’m a highly productive writer/reviewer, I sometimes (more than I’d care to admit) languish in the glorious fog of pure potential. And it DOES drive me nuts after awhile! I decided to DECIDE…and just do what I set out to do, even if I take baby steps.
Another time, I turned to “Amy’s Three Questions”, one of the “Stories Along the Way”, and I so much appreciated this entire section which spoke about assessing our relationship with our feelings, with Spirit, and with OURSELF. (Whoever you are, Amy…BLESS YOU. I’ve randomly turned to your section several times and get something new each reading!) Amy’s three questions boiled down to exploring inner nooks and crannies and choosing life—instead of “thrashing around bemoaning stuckness or perceived flaws.”
Although The Life Organizer may seem a bit higgledy piggledy, premium common sense and perennial wisdom grace the elegant, glossy pages of this book. I was thrilled to see echoes of The Work by Byron Katie (a technique of asking “Is this true? Can you know that it’s true? How would you feel without that stressful thought?”), as well as the crucial notion of challenging the personal stories that limit us.
For example, Ms. Loudon felt discomfort around her knee and made up a very painful, fatalistic story about her pain. After seeing a friend in the healthcare profession who told her it was merely “wear and tear”, she literally experienced a shift in perception and action. Truly, our assumptions can torment us and limit us in ways we cannot imagine.
Filled with true stories by women, insightful quotes, spaces for journaling, and questions for contemplating, The Life Organizer is an undated “planner” that leads us by the hand—back to the body, heart and spirit of our unique self. It is a life preserver for those caught in the net of perfectionism, shoulds, and over-striving—as well as those mired in the quagmire of “shadow comforts”, “time monsters”, or pervasive ennui.
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