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173 of 177 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
For years, twenty-six to be exact, I have longed to return to the life of my heart's desire, theatre. Instead, I cared for aging parents, moved to the country to raise our daughter and tried to substitute other creative endeavours for my lost love. As my daughter nears college age, this desire began looming again, creating no end of frustration and self-bashing for wanting something that was impossible.

Then I ordered The Life Organizer, being a great fan of Jennifer's work. I took some time for myself and began reading the first chapter and when I reached the line "Desire is the flow of life we yearn to swim in, the urge to be one with Spirit, and the way to stay in touch with this flow is through knowing what we want without insisting that we get it", my world blew apart.

It was like a huge weight falling off my shoulders. I felt free at last to let my desire flow, to stop blocking it with shoulds and impossibilities. Within days, my whole life had turned around. Now, instead of sitting here, falling into depression when my daughter leaves for university, my husband and I will be moving temporarily so that I can get my MFA in costume design. Everything fell into place, from finding the perfect place to apply, to renewing my old theatre contacts and finding more than enough recommendations to accompany my application.

Now, I will be using this delightful book week to week, to help me stay in touch with who I really am, while still carrying on as a member of this wonderful family with whom I am so fortunate to share my life.

Not everyone will have such explosive results, but I cannot recommend this book highly enough. As with all of Jennifer's work, it is truly a creation of the heart.
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86 of 87 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2007
Format: Hardcover
At a low point in my life, I am groping for ways to anchor myself. Books on decluttering, novels detailing spiritual odyssey, and poems have all intrigued, and been at least partially helpful. Just not on point, exactly. Louden's book distills and clarifies profound questions I didn't previously know I had. I find I mark something on virtually every page, as my instincts cry, "Yes, exactly"--or, "Think more about this; it matters." This book is both beautiful and nonlinear (yet not chaotic or cluttered--qualities unnerving to anyone with incipient ADD tencences! Visually as well as linguistically, it's a serene book). If you are not exactly depressed but moping/groping through midlife ennui, I heartily recommend it. Oh, by the way, I virtually never write book reviews, but this time it felt mandatory.
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106 of 109 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
This very unusual book is not linear and takes some getting used to, but it's a powerful tool. Jennifer Louden has put a lot of years into studying what women need to do to sustain and nurture their own best selves. This book invites women to create a Life Plan, and shows intriguing examples of plans created by other women. This book can be used in so many ways: pick it up at random and you'll find a pithy quote you can ruminate on for hours. Try some of the more formal exercises, such as following the guidelines week by week. The Life Organizer isn't about making your closets neater: it's about penetrating more deeply into who you are every day, embracing what that is, and taking yourself to whatever is the next level for YOU. Jennifer, you just keep getting better!
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184 of 196 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
"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.

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.

Janet Boyer, author of The Back in Time Tarot Book: Picture the Past, Experience the Cards, Understand the Present (coming Fall 2008 from Hampton Roads Publishing)
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56 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2009
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This was a hard book to get started with because while it is guided, its not your traditional guided journal/reflection book.

It took me about 3 tries to get out of 1st gear with the book and get into a groove writing. What helped was I finally decided I did not need to write every day on a Mon, Tues, Wed, Thur, Fri type of schedule. That I could write when I wanted to to. Also what helped was writing into my own journal and not into the book.

Now for the book itself. Once you get past the getting started mode it is quite helpful at allowing one to reflect on Should Do, Could Do, and Can do's of life. The reflective questions go beyond the traditional questions you'd expect. The notion of an intention for each week is powerful. The reflective question that asks you to go back over your previous reflections is also quite powerful. The quotes from notable figures was exciting and very inspirational.

The book helped me immensely with seeing myself clearier and understanding what I can tolerate, and what I will not tolerate and what I can do about it.

Because the book has an open/make it yours kind of style this can be disconcerting to those who are used to a more traditional style of guided journaling, but in the end this style works as well. Give it a try.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
When was the last time you gave some thought to what was important in your life? Today's woman spends most of her time juggling work and family demands, leaving very little energy for herself. But isn't there more to life than just giving to others?

"The Life Organizer" invites you to take a closer look at your life. With a collection of weekly soul-searching questions, you will explore your deepest needs and desires. Gently and gradually, you will find out who you are, and how to create a life that is not only functional, but one you truly love.

This book is the perfect addition to any woman's library, from high school or college graduates just starting out to women who have years of experience behind them. It's never too soon or too late to start living authentically.

Muse Review Mark: Highly Recommended

Reviewer: Alice Berger, Muse Reviews
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I ask myself, why does a woman need a life organizer? What has happened to create a need for us to seek answers through various devices and advice gurus? We've become so goal-oriented we can't even listen to our own intuition. Simply lying on the earth should give us any answers we need, but we're too busy, too stressed, to do even that. So we turn to today's guidance, often in the form of books, to find out how to come home to ourselves.

One of our helpers is Jennifer Louden, also known as "The Comfort Queen." Louden is the author of several books including the bestselling The Women's Comfort Book and is devoted to nurturing women to express their "true creative power." I love books and look to them for inspiration and, frequently, affirmations of what I already know. This one is a heart-based, spirit-directed approach to listening to ourselves.

The Life Organizer is glossy, full of color and original artwork, and is written in Louden's warm, over-the-back-fence, casual style. She doesn't offer advice, but rather, "a collection of possibilities to inspire you in creating your way of participating with life and with your gifts."

Those possibilities are ways to stop and "tune in to what you really want and what you really know." She notes five main steps that make up the life-organizing process: connect, feel, inquire, allow and apply. Louden cautions readers not to focus on the five steps, but rather on your own life experiences, posing questions to assist you in getting in touch with your life experiences.

Besides the main steps to help you "create your optimum life day by day, moment by moment," Louden offers six "life-planning concepts." All of these suggestions grew out of Louden's busy life experiences and the intuitive planner she created for herself, which she shared with her coaching clients and those who attended her workshops and retreats. The results, and the stories of several of those women, are included.

"Shadow Comforts and Time Monsters" is one of Louden's life-planning concepts and refers to those comforts that masquerade as self-care techniques, but in fact drain your energy. For example, chatting on a message board may be energizing, or it may be a tactic to avoid talking to your partner. Among the women Louden has coached are those "whose lives consisted almost entirely of time monsters, because they were too afraid to do what they really wanted to do." Watching TV, spending a month cooking for the holidays, and spending a week decorating your child's classroom may be among your "time monsters." Some discerning questions are helpful to consider. We so often say we don't have time, but if we look at what we're really doing with our time, a light may go on.

I particularly like the chapter on "Creating Your Life Planner." I'm a fan of journals so that's why I probably enjoyed the various approaches women have taken to crafting their own Life Planners. You may write in Louden's book, but if you need more room, a spiral notebook will work just fine. Then you need to place your life planner where you have easy access to it, by your bed, or alongside your date book. One woman constructed her own card deck using the questions throughout the book. She uses the cards as her own divination system, drawing a question card or two on which to reflect. She has decorated them with her own images so she can stare at those images and see what they spark in her.

Thirteen elegantly designed planning sections that include four weeks worth of theme-based questions also include "Stories Along the Way," true stories of women who have used Life Organizing to improve their lives.

Each week, on a two-page spread, there is space for writing your intention. Three circles provide space for completing these phrases: "let go of", "have to" and "could do." Questions, and some possible answers, give impetus to a creative and intentional week.

Although this book is full of possibilities, at the core is its intent is to bring you back to yourself, eliminating what no longer serves the life that you, in your heart of hearts, desire. It looks very organized, but in fact you can approach it in your own non-organized, non-linear way. Using it as a divinatory tool seems a good idea to me. Just open the book and see what tips and stories appear for you today.

Jennifer Louden is a bestselling author, personal coach, radio show contributor, columnist for "Body & Soul Magazine" and creator of learning events and retreats. Louden is married to cinematographer Christopher Mosio, living in a small house on an island in the Pacific Northwest, along with their daughter, Lillian.

You can share a cup of virtual tea with Jen at [...] and [...]

by Mary Ann Moore
for Story Circle Book Reviews
[...]
reviewing books by, for, and about women
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
In this addition to the author's list of other titles, such as the Women's Comfort Book, and Comfort Secrets for Busy Women, I noticed a slightly different format with pastel colored pages, and graphic designed borders, but I felt that she covered much of the same territory, of self-care reminders, in a crowded and disjointed way.

There are weekly "assignments", if you will, intended to nudge or pry or push you (the overbusy, overworked, overwhelmed woman who already has too much on her plate) out of the discontented place you may have found yourself. This book reminds me very much of the year's worth of suggestions made by another author, Sarah Ban Breathnach, in her 1996 book, Simple Abundance-A Daybook of Comfort and Joy.

It seems to me that there must be some kind of middle ground between the extremes of obsessive self-inquiry during our already busy lives, and giving ourselves the gift of a spa retreat with bodywork, meditation, yoga practice and healthful vegetarian cuisine. For after all, isn't that what we are looking for when we pick up this kind of book, some guided Wisdom about finding and recognizing that peaceful place of balance and harmony where we already live?
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I'm a longtime fan and colleague of Jennifer Louden's and her new book was well worth waiting for. First off, it's beautiful---a pleasure to have on my nightstand and a book I'm eager to give as a gift to every hard-working woman (what other kind are there?) that I know. I love how this book is set up and put together: you don't have to read it cover-to-cover; you go where you need to. It is infinitely reader-friendly. Also, the combination of practicality and inspiration is just right; and the interactive sections aren't just exercises-for-the-sake-of-exercises: Jennifer's questions are fresh and probing, and the answers to them really give insights into what's going on in the reader's life. (That was how it was for me, anyway.) Finally, I love the personal touches. Having this book is almost like signing up for private coaching with Jennifer. And letting us in on her life and her struggles in a poignant and precious way is a special gift from an author. Thanks, Jennifer. (Oh, by the way, I actually feel more organized.)
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I cannot tell you how rough this year has been. I felt like I was drowning in "have to do" and "I wish I coulds." This book helped me connect my true wishes, secret desires and priorites. I was free to let go of the rest. I was even able to deal with conflicting emotions surrounding a romance. I have had this book for awhile and have used it at different points, but 2008 marked the first time in a long time I was in overload mode. I happened to notice the book "waiting" for me on a side table in my living room. I picked it up and I have felt better since that day.
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