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Change-maker interview with Jennifer Louden

Tuesday, March 22, 2011 by Marianne Elliott

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The change-maker I’m interviewing today is the woman who is teaching me what true servant leadership looks like, and showing me that real authenticity has survived the bastardisation of it’s name and is alive and well.

Jen Louden is a teacher, author, leader, change-maker and friend to many women (and men) all over the world. She was already talking about the importance of self-care while I was still running myself ragged and calling it ‘professional commitment’. She’s known to many as the queen of self-care, and she recently launched the Savor and Serve experiment:

“I’m so curious about the sweet spot where our longing to be happy meets our desire to make a difference I’m devoting a year to exploring it. [This is] the Savor and Serve experiment.” – Jen Louden

Jen Louden talks about depletion, the potential for arrogance of service + the humility of self-care

1. What is it that breaks your heart? And what are you doing about it?

Today, everything is breaking my heart. There are days like that. Today is one of them. More specifically, is injustice and ignorance. I want people to have a chance to be happy and I want people who have it all to see what a responsibility that is  (by have it all I mean running water, good food, safety, a livelihood). Fairness, sharing, making it better are my themes. What I’m doing about it right now is stewing.  Honestly, raising questions and being uncomfortable. Not letting myself or my readers off the hook.

2. What fills you with joy?

Today, everything. The feel of my dog’s fur, the way my daughter holds up her hand to ban me from her room, the ache in my back, writing this, the left over taste of salad in my mouth, the longing to know, to do, to create, the rain splattering against the window for the million day in a row, the sight of my Moleskin notebook filled with notes from a mediation retreat, being connected to you, yoga yesterday, really it all gives me such joy.

3. What do you do to take care of yourself and make sure your work is personally sustainable?

Honestly, I am, once again, deeply struggling with this. I seem to – over and over again – come to this place where I am not sustaining myself because I am caught in stories about why I can’t. Now, I must say that on the surface, I look like the poster child for self-care. I make myself healthy veggie based meals, I practice yoga and meditation a lot, exercise, get hugs, take the evenings and lots of weekends off, have a loving partnership, spend time with my kid, read boatloads, etc. I take care of myself financially. I ask for help. I go to therapy.

AND I had to admit to myself this morning I’M DEPLETED. Again. It’s so friggin embarrassing but there it is.  I’m going to have to go let go of a lot of stuff in the next 6 weeks so I can go into this depletion deeply and see what is there. That is the call. I hate that with all my being but there you have it. Breaking news.

4. This blog is a kind of a watering hole for people, like me, who have always been more focused on saving the world than caring for ourselves. What have you learned so far in the Savor + Serve experiment that you think we should know?

See #3. I have learned that depletion is here, it’s real, and there is a way I am colluding with it. I have to speak about that, experiment with that and be of service there. I have learned that you can run but it stays right with you. I have learned that the more of service you want to be, the more you need to deal with who you really are, what your issues are.  It’s just like teaching! The best teachers show up as who they are and they use teaching to see themselves, warts and beauty and in between, and grapple with that lovingly.

I have also learned, already, that service could be a great place to hide from myself, and that arrogance is a horrible possibility. “Look at me, look at all I can do!”  That makes me nauseous to say but it’s true. Self-care makes you humble or it helps when service has humbled you.

5. I learned so much from you and Michele in the Teach Now course last year about serving others by being nourished myself. How does the Savor + Serve experiment inform Teach Now, and vice versa?

I gave birth to Teach Now, and was lucky to have Michele (ed: that’s Michele over on the right) there to partner with and bring her brilliance too, a few weeks after I saw I wanted to work more directly with service, that I wanted to do more direct service, and support people in waking up to service. So it was my first “How I could do this” move. So many of us can serve through teaching, through igniting and sharing, and we have to do in a sustainable, self-loving way or we give up. Especially if we are teaching within a system or we are self-employed. We need support on so many levels.

Marianne, we all just aim to be fully alive and be of use in the world. I know a big part of my service is to bring self-acceptance and unmitigated joy to others. I also know if I’m not experiencing it myself, um, no go. So off do that!


I did the Teach Now course with Jen and Michele last year and found it to be deeply nourishing, supportive and activating. In Jen’s own words, it’s a course in:

“How to step up and do your world-saving work… even if it scares you real, real bad.”

This is what I had to say about the course last year:

“Teach Now was exactly what I needed right now as a teacher, as a student and as a human being. Jen and Michele bring such honesty, generosity, wisdom and clarity to their teaching. Their insights into the wonderful, winding path towards becoming a fully embodied teacher, combined with the practical tools they shared, have nourished me and supported me to take the next steps along my own teaching path. This course was everything I had hoped it would be, and more. Thank you. I’ll be back for more!”

The first class of the course is free, and will take place this week on March 24th at 10 am Pacific/ 1 pm Eastern.

This is not a sales call, it is actually the first class of the course. You can sign up, join the first class and then decide whether the course is for you.

Sign up for the first FREE Teach Now call here (NB: Jen and Michelle will pay me gratitude gold for each person who signs up for the course via this link)

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10 Responses to "Change-maker interview with Jennifer Louden"

  1. i am so lucky to know you. so lucky!

  2. ps we are already paying you gratitude gold!

  3. Pat Leitzen Fye says:

    What an amazing interview; I signed up for the next TeachNow and was considering not doing it (time constraints, as usual). Now I know I must make time for the call. What is it about we women, especially, that we are always staring depletion in the eye? Like Jen and you, Marianne, I work hard, but try to care for myself while caring for others and here I am, a pulled muscle in my back and a bug of some sort giving me a sore throat and achy-all-over feeling. As I teach yoga later today I know it will help, and yet, it may also add to the “depletion syndrome”. Again, thanks for this interview. namaste ~

  4. sherry roskam says:

    Sounds like your brain chemistry is off. People who do all the right things in a holistic manner still have genetic issues that predispose certain problems with brain chemistry. If you’re getting enough exercise, consider an antidepressant.

  5. Stevy says:

    Love, Love, Love what you are putting out there! It reached me and I am grateful:-) I am curious about this teleclass. Will it be available to listen to after? Regretfully, I am not able to attend at the designed time.

    Enjoy a wonderful and productive day!

    • Marianne Elliott says:

      Hi Stevy,

      Yes, the call will be recorded so it is worth signing up if you are interested in joining the course. Only people who sign-up for the first call will be invited to join the course.

      I listened to all the calls for the whole course as recordings last year and got so much from them.



  6. Amanda says:

    Something that helps me “refuel” when I’m depleted is…play. Have you read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron? She recommends something called a weekly “artist’s date,” where you spend an hour by yourself doing something that sounds FUN. Yoga can be fun, and so can cooking, and writing… but if you do them all the time…maybe you need to inject some “new fun” into your life. An hour a week. It can be so restorative.

  7. such a juicy conversation – Marianne, we need to do something together on this soon!!

  8. […] I wonder if this is even a natural response. Could this in fact be a form of depletion? I can’t function yet I can’t take weeks off to delve into it and really explore and heal […]

  9. […] who enjoys my work and my writing will love them too. So I was excited about introducing you all to Jen back in March, and now to […]

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