Bothering to Keep Trying with Jennifer Louden

Jennifer Louden, best-selling author and pioneer of the self-care movement, wants you to "bother" to keep caring—for yourself and our world.
Bothering to Keep Trying with Jennifer Louden
Published April 19, 2022

Jennifer Louden (JenniferLouden.com) may be a best-selling author, but she is no stranger to asking herself the question, “Why bother?”

She says that this common turn of phrase, which is typically used as a sort of signal to indicate that we’re giving up before we really try, is actually a real question that deserves answering.

Her book, Why Bother? Discover the Desire for What’s Next, turns the rhetorical question into a literal one and a personal invitation to figure out what we really want, what our stake is in trying, and how to access our desire to pursue it.

The sequel, Get Your Bother On: A Guided Journal to Discover What’s Next, features 200 bite-sized exercises and unique journaling prompts to help you access your desire and explore what you want to “bother” with, deep down.

For 30 years, Jennifer has been an author, teacher, and leading voice on self-care and creative transformation. She has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show; she’s a former columnist for Whole Living, a Martha Stewart magazine, and her work has been featured in People, USA Today, CNN, and two of author Brené Brown’s best-selling books, Daring Greatly and Dare to Lead.

With close to a million copies of her books in print in nine languages today, her 1992 book, The Women’s Comfort Book, is attributed to helping begin the modern self-care movement.

We recorded our interview in February 2020.

Jen shares wisdom including…

  • What it’s like when, even after years of being a best-selling author, your latest book-in-progress “just isn’t working”
  • How Jen’s lifelong fascination with understanding why people give up motivated her latest projects
  • How we can summon curiosity, joy, desire, and more to help us reconnect with what we want from life

Thank you to Jen for joining us on The New Story Is!

If you enjoyed this episode, please rate and review our show wherever you listen—it helps others find and enjoy our show.


Episode Transcript

We believe in providing full episode transcripts for increased accessibility, especially for those who may be hard of hearing or for whom English is a second language. Please note that transcripts are not fully edited and may contain errors. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Dave Ursillo  00:13

Hello and welcome to The New Story Is my name is Dave Ursillo. I am the founder of The New Story Company and the host of this podcast. 

Dave Ursillo  00:22

The New Story Is explores the stories of our time and invites guests to share what new stories they are putting forth in the world. On today’s show, have you ever heard yourself say, why bother? 

Dave Ursillo  00:36

Our guest Best Selling Author Jennifer Louden certainly has. In fact, she wanted to examine this rhetorical question. Why bother in the story behind its meaning? A sort of signal that we’re giving up before we really try. her book, why bother discovered the desire for what’s next turns the rhetorical question into a literal one, into a personal invitation to figure out what we really want, what our stake is in trying and how to access our desire to pursue it. 

Dave Ursillo  01:04

For 30 years, Jen has been an author, teacher and leading voice on self care and creative transformation. She’s appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show. She’s a former columnist for whole living a Martha Stewart magazine, and her work has been featured in people USA Today CNN, and to have author Brene Browns best selling books Daring Greatly and dare to lead with close to a million copies of her books in print in nine languages. 

Dave Ursillo  01:29

Jen joined me for this interview on February 19 2020, before the COVID 19 pandemic really took hold in the United States. I thought we’d republish it today because it makes for a really great follow up conversation to our previous episode with author Kat Vellos on caring. If you haven’t heard that interview yet, do go back and have a listen. Since this interview was originally recorded, Jennifer has published a follow up book to why bother called Get your bother on a guided journal to discover what’s next. It features 200 bite sized exercises and unique journaling prompts to help you access your desire and explore what you want to bother with deep down. 

Dave Ursillo  02:08

You can find a link to both books in the episode description of this podcast. And when you purchase using one of our affiliate links to book shop.org, a competitor to Amazon, you not only help support our show, but also support our guest authors and local and independent bookstores. Let’s begin with Jan reading a brief excerpt from the opening pages of why bother Jen take it away.

Jennifer Louden  02:32

Why bother indeed. Asking why bother is inevitable it’s baked into being human and it’s time to notice how are you asking the question why bother is a pseudo question already answered in the negative by resignation the why bother many of us know all too well insists yet can’t. It’s been done. It’s far too late and you don’t have what it takes. It uses cynicism the planet’s dying why bother to bolster its case that nothing you can do really matters. 

Jennifer Louden  03:06

It replays the good old days followed by a chorus of it only is everybody else can but you It beats you up for wanting more while at the same time it discourages you by insisting there isn’t any more to be had. And conveniently why bother has political and corporate corruption environmental disaster economic injustice and the way your brain is wired to bolster its case at every turn. Why bother is most familiar side is a grumpy bummer defined by despair and punctuated by long sighs it shows up as emptiness blame numbing out coasting, complaining, starting something and then stopping the desolate kind of way. 

Jennifer Louden  03:53

Bother means looking only in the rearview mirror of your life back at your story that no longer makes sense to you or has been taken from you. Or if you’re younger, you may find yourself looking into the future and believing all the good stuff of life is either out of your reach or no longer exists. It’s letting grief over past losses and traumas devour your future. It’s giving up on believing there is more for you a more that can be as satisfying as enlivening as meaningful, as beautiful as what has come before or what is yet to be. is choosing comfort and routine, over aliveness and growth. It’s believing your story of what’s not possible more than the bracing reality of taking action.

Dave Ursillo  04:39

Thank you so much for being here.

Jennifer Louden  04:41

Oh, my pleasure, Dave. I love talking to you. You’re fantastic.

Dave Ursillo  04:45

Oh, and you are too. You’re such a gracious host. I had the pleasure of spending time with Jamie and her husband Bob and her dogs. I guess it was almost two years ago now out in Colorado and at the time, Jim, we were talking you had a work in process. Press that eventually went on to become this book. Why bother? My first question for you is coming from the deepest nerdiest place in me as a as a writer and a lover of language and communication. I too, it sounds like you do can sometimes be fixated on different like quips and common sayings and things that we colloquially share in our in our shared lexicon, right, these different phrases that we use to mean different things or that mean things that sometimes we don’t even understand the full power of what these stories are. And so here a question, why bother? 

Dave Ursillo  05:38

This is something that you’ve taken this phrase, and you really pulled it apart, and of course of this book and looking at it from all these different angles. And also how, as you say, in the excerpt you just read for us? This is a pseudo question. It’s not actually something that we’re inquiring about. It’s something that’s already answered, as you said, in the negative and by resignation. 

Dave Ursillo  06:00

So, Jen, tell me about your relationship to these two words. And, you know, if you had to kind of like put a maybe like a date on there, or a moment in time, was there a particular reason or story behind how this phrase in particular caught your attention in the ways that it has?

Jennifer Louden  06:17

It’s great question, Dave. I think there’s two ways to answer one, probably, from a very young age, I have been fascinated and needled and angry and excited by the fact that people give up that people get cynical that people turn their back on something that they want. On that they turn, they turn their back on more, whatever that more might be. More success, more creativity, more connection, more vitality, more health. It since I was really little, that’s just like astonished me. And I’ve wanted to do something about it. 

Jennifer Louden  06:59

And so I think that when I think about where the book started, I would go all the way back to that and where I became fascinated with these different things that we say whether it’s why bother, or what’s the point or who cares. And then the very moment for this book came, I spent four years and 500 pages writing a memoir that failed completely as a work of literature. And sometimes people take umbrage when I say it failed, you know, how can you say it failed, you changed so much and out of the ashes of that memoir, roses book, but I wanted to write, I wanted to write my version of my wild, right, I wanted to write a book that you just devoured, and you have this experience. And you went on this narrative journey with me. And I spent a lot of time and a lot of work. And I gave it to a great book coach, Jenny Nash, I paid her to read it, more friends, and she got way more than she bargained for. And she told me later that she after she scanned it, for she pretty much figured out pretty soon it wasn’t working. 

Jennifer Louden  08:00

She took three days to get up the courage to tell me that my work, the book didn’t work, because he knew how long and hard I’d worked on it. And then we coached around what could come out of that. And our my first book idea, which was actually Jenny’s idea, I wrote it, I wrote a book proposal for my agent turned it down, her whole agency turned it down. And I worked on a little bit more and realized it was Jenny’s idea, right? It was a good idea. But it wasn’t my idea. It wasn’t coming from my heart. And I told her that. 

Jennifer Louden  08:32

And she said, Well, what is coming from your heart. And that’s when the phrase why bother came and I said that? I just really want to help people answer this question, why bother? And it was one of those moments that I think we all get in our creative lives, tiny ones and big ones, where something just resonates like, like you have become the bell and someone has struck you or your imagination or, you know, God had struck you with a big old Gong and you’re like, Okay, that’s it. That’s it.

Dave Ursillo  09:01

Yeah, I find that so fascinating, Jennifer, because someone who’s listening to this is just meeting you for the first time and they hear your extensive resume. You mean you’ve been writing professionally? For almost 30 years right and have been on The Oprah Winfrey Show? I think your your, your bio, is something that a writer who’s someone who’s who’s an aspiring writer would say like I could only dream of accomplishing that much 

Dave Ursillo  09:31

What did it feel like for you though, you know, despite the bio to hear from you know, someone who you hired and respected to say like this that you’ve been working on for years and 500 pages doesn’t work like what is that? It would be it’s like you know, something that we can all relate to and empathize with. It would feel like a crushing blow I’m sure for at some point in your career, maybe it maybe it did now, but what did that feel like for you given your your your creative professional history to have that kind of moment happen.

Jennifer Louden  10:05

Well, you know, I was bummed. But I actually started almost immediately feeling super light. And I started walking around singing ding dong the wicked witches. And, and there’s a bunch of background to that. And part of that is in in the four years of writing that book, I became a different person. And I had already known that and acknowledged that and seen that. And so I knew that it was not wasted time, I had rewritten my personal story, by taking my history and trying to and turning it into a narrative. For someone else. I think there’s something about that process when we write our personal stories. And we’re not just journaling it I journal a lot. I think journaling is fantastic. You have great journaling prompts, for example. 

Jennifer Louden  10:57

But there was something about trying to turn it into literature or trying to turn it into something that when I work with writers, I say you stretch to connect, you have to bring people into the story. Why should they care. And in that process, I understood and learned so much about myself, some of which, of course, became the basis for the why bother book not all of it, but some of it. So I felt like at peace with the benefits, I didn’t feel like I had failed in that. And I also learned so much about writing and part of my business, not the whole part of my not my whole business, but part of the business for a long time has been working with writers. And so I really learned how to be a better book coach and writing coach. And so I also knew that had benefit. But I also think that there was a heaviness to trying to make the story work that I had been denying to myself for a long time. I think I knew on some level that it wasn’t a narrative arc that I hadn’t done, what I taught other people to do and memoir. And so I felt the great freedom and letting that go. 

Jennifer Louden  12:00

Now. I also because of all the work I’ve done in that story, and then the work that I started to do in my life, I felt super resilient. And I was able to bounce right back and start another book proposal. And when that one failed, I was really I mean, it sounds weird. But I was able to bounce right back out of that and start this book. So I don’t this is this is this is the thing, though, this is the thing I haven’t said to everybody. All of this was 11 years in the making. I have not Written a new book in 11 years. And this is my eighth book. So I wrote book after book after book. And in the last 11 years, my last publisher brought out a paperback version of one of my books to keep it alive, which was great and sweet. And I did an assignment for National Geographic for a book, which was not you know, it was more like a journal, it took me three weeks to write. It is a journal. So it doesn’t really count. Right. 

Jennifer Louden  12:59

And so this is but this this so this I had been through so much, which is what the book is about so much in my life, so much loss, so much beating myself up so many years of wandering in the dark and being lost and doubting myself creatively. That this, I’d come out of it right. And I was like if I don’t ever write another book again, that’s not who I am anymore. And when I was 11 years ago, I was so much more identified with my work. I was so much more identified. I mean, I still am I mean, this book is coming out, I wanted to become a best seller, it’s highly unlikely, right? The signs are definitely not lining up for it to become a big best seller. I’ve definitely had my moments of chagrin and sadness and crawled into bed and poor poor me. But at the same time, I’m like, okay, but I did my best with the book and I’ll continue to do my best to get the word out.

Dave Ursillo  13:54

Absolutely. And I think that that’s what I think what you’re describing Jen is one of these like paradoxes of the what the creative professional experiences right or what any creative person experiences and it’s, it’s being in these two worlds, right? One of which is the material, the pragmatic, the physical, the business and to put one foot into that space of, like you said, doing everything you can to like get the word out and to promote it and to you know, take a big swing and because you want it to be successful and you want to be as successful as possible. So it’s not like you’re it’s not like you just hit publish on Amazon on Kindle and just go okay, good luck. 

Dave Ursillo  14:35

Yeah, but But you you do the work on the one hand, and on the other hand, it sounds like you’re also being governed by this. This sense of detachment and also like a profound understanding for how the work that’s been done in the pages of this book, are almost almost that mean there’s their significance like reading this. It’s absolutely beautiful. I think people are going to absolutely love the book itself. But in the scope of your journey, it sounds like there, there’s almost a smallness to them in the sense that you have a perspective of appreciation for how you know, the first attempts at writing, the memoir that you were writing was therapeutic for you and how it also helps you to practice what you’ve been preaching when you work with writers and creative memoir writers for so long. 

Dave Ursillo  15:26

So it sounds like there’s been just so much living in the course of the creation of what has become why bother? And I think that’s one of those things that I wish every writer and creative could have the experience of understanding because in our, in our society, in our culture, we often look at things as successes or failures like we, as we as we would looking at someone’s bio, right, like I said, about about your, your career history in that paragraph. But really, there’s there’s so much more to be experienced, valued, appreciated and reaped from the journey of what is a creative process. And and still, you can do all the work to try to get it out there to as many people as possible.

Jennifer Louden  16:09

Yeah, absolutely. When the Coronavirus was was dawning on us, which now seems like you know, lifetime ago, but this was two weeks ago, when it was dawning on all of us that we were all together a group of our friends. And we’re like, wow, this is probably the last time we’re all going to be together and one of our friends is in immunocompromised. So we knew she was going to go into isolation now. And then a week later, the rest of us followed her. You know, not completely but as much as we possibly can. And you know, I’ve got a book tour planned and we haven’t quite canceled we haven’t cancelled yet, but works looking like we should get out go ahead and cancel it. And I was so bummed and so sad. And we’ve put so much work into all these things that are just kind of falling away. And we were at the table and my my one of my friends assaulted me and said, We love you. 

Jennifer Louden  17:00

And I just it was like in that moment I needed someone outside of me to make me realize I’m not my book sales. Right? Because that’s that’s the place it’s so easy for me to go. It’s not. I don’t think that happens every writer, but it’s not uncommon for sure. To to feel that competitiveness. It always reminds me of that story. 

Jennifer Louden  17:20

From Sue benders book everyday sacred. And she wrote that in, in the maybe the late 90s. And it was after her first book became a surprise bestseller which was, oh, I’m looking at my bookshelves. Well, I can’t remember the name of it. I’ll think of it in a second. But she tells the story in the second book of the success of our first book. And she’s in she lives in Berkeley, and she’s in the grocery store and she sees neighbor and she goes oh my gosh, you’ll never believe what happened. My book became a New York Times bestseller. She’s not a writer. She’s a ceramicist, who had this experience with the Amish that she writes about. And she’s so she’s completely epic, this innocent in it, and the whole experience and just delighted. And her friend looks at her and she goes, what number? What number on the list? 

Jennifer Louden  18:09

And Sue Bender tells the story of like, oh my god, I realized in that moment, there’s like, there’s no, there’s not enough, right? There’s there’s always going to be somebody who says but more. But But what about this, and you didn’t do that, and you didn’t reach that height. And I remember many years ago, my first agent who became my first my first editor who became my first agent, excuse me, and she said to me very seriously, this was probably on book two or three? What is going to be enough for you? Is it going to be the New York Times? How many days? Or I mean, how many weeks on the New York Times? Is it going to be etc? And I went Oh, right. Good question. Really good question.

Dave Ursillo  18:50

It’s really when you really get when you really drill down into it. Like that, you know, I think we all generally as people send our aspirations around, like what we think will give us like joy, pleasure, satisfaction, fulfillment, or enough money to like, not give a shit anymore. We’re all like we’re all trying to motivate ourselves to do to varying degrees on a given day. But when somebody prompts you, you know, would it be enough to? It’s almost like splitting hairs or getting into minutiae. But, you know, is it enough to just hit the bestseller list? Do you want to be number one? Do you want to be on it for a long time? 

Dave Ursillo  19:29

And to start asking yourself that question, Jim, to turn this back towards the book, why bother? really starts to get you to prompt yourself around what is it that I want and why and why bother itself has a lot to do with getting in touch with desire and embracing desire as a guiding force in our lives. And there’s a lot to that right we have a I think are especially in the world in which you and I live this kind of like personal development tea online. World desire is a big buzzword. And I think we have a better relationship, generally speaking to desire now more than ever, but it’s still a very complex word and a complex emotion. And so I’m curious about your relationship to desire, personally and professionally. 

Dave Ursillo  20:16

So maybe we will steer back towards, you know, like the content of the book itself, and answering the question of why bother through desire. So tell me about what’s your relationship like to desire? Has it always been clear and defined? Or ever been back? Have there been battles? Like when someone prompts you about, you know, do you want to hit the bestseller list? Or oh, comes in? Yeah,

Jennifer Louden  20:37

totally. There still is. I mean, I’m, you know, I’ve just revealed that I don’t know two or three times in our conversation so far. I think, for me, the way I define desire in the book is it feels to me like lifeforce flowing in it. It, it comes in the form of wanting, and how we have a healthy relationship to that, to me, seems like one of the most essential life skills we can develop. But it’s one that’s shrouded and twisted and sold to us. And it’s got, it’s got a lot of layers of fear and confusion around it. And I’m right there with everybody. 

Jennifer Louden  21:15

And definitely, it’s better that relation to that personal relationship than it’s ever been. But I have a street team right now of people who are readers and follow my work. And they’re going to help me get the word out about the books that they’re reading an early digital copy of the book. And like, one of them in the face, we have a private Facebook group to talk about what we’re doing. And one of them said, Oh, my God, I’m loving the book, and blah, blah, blah, and this page, and then I said, Oh, thank you so much. Last night, I was laying in bed, like my work doesn’t matter at all. And I was in a very dark place. And I couldn’t go to sleep and and then she, she said, Okay, this is the book you need to read. It’s called Why bother? And these are the pages you need to read them like, exactly, thank you, thank you for reminding me, my husband probably tells me that once a week. 

Jennifer Louden  22:01

And I really do I mean, I have read reread my own work, I have a paper copy on my desk, over and over again, since it’s come out and trying to remember that in the crash of the old patterns in my brain and my psyche that I write about in the book about wanting someone outside of me to validate my work versus validating at myself. And so Absolutely, I’m in a push pull with that. It’s been interesting, because we started planning the launch for this book long ago. And I felt like we were so on top of it and so far ahead. And suddenly, we’re behind and we’ve dropped the ball on stuff. And a lot of it has to do with a virus. But I’ve also been really frozen because that’s happened to me when I’m really stressed. I freeze, you know, some people, you know, fight or flight or even there’s different things that we do different combinations. But when I’m really really stressed, I fry freeze. 

Jennifer Louden  22:57

And so I’ve been going I’ve been like knock it off at three o’clock every afternoon. I’ve been taking a lot of naps I’ve been. And I’m like just being really gentle with myself. Because right now my desire is to take care of myself. And I’m trying to privilege that and not and put that forward and not freak out that I don’t really even know what the book launch looks like right now. And I’m like, how did that happen? How did everything get so hazy and falling apart? And I’m like, I’m going to trust it’s going to come together, I’m going to trust that some pieces are together and inaction that I’m not really remembering. I’m going to trust my team. I’m going to trust that this is a long haul. I never thought the book would launch big. I always thought it would be a slow burn that it’s going to be word of mouth. So yeah, so the law that’s a long convoluted answer to oh my god, I still struggle with it.

Dave Ursillo  23:48

Yeah, and it I think, I mean, anyone who’s being honest, still struggles with any of these like, questions of like, how do we be the best version of ourselves, right? And how do we fully live our lives and fully express ourselves and getting in touch with something like desire as esoteric as a concept as it is is also really becomes really pragmatic, right kind of harkens back to the conversation we were having about having one foot in like doing everything you can to publish the book, but also be snatched from it. And that kind of reminds me of some things that you say in why bother general round how there’s like, there are two kinds of why bother questions, right? And there’s like a bright side to asking, why bother? 

Dave Ursillo  24:30

It’s not that asking why bother, as is only ever a signal of giving up. As we tip as it typically is when we say, you know, well, we’re only going to be here, each of us for another 100 You know, whatever. 100 years, 80 years, 50 years, 30 years if we’re lucky, so why bother with climate change or why bother with x y&z these are the big daunting questions that we say why bother to as a signal of surrender giving up? There’s also an upside to asking the question of why bother, right and so What is that?

Jennifer Louden  25:01

Well, I think the Goodwin, why bother? What’s the point who cares shows up? It is a clarion call to pause and find your desire again. But what happens is built into the question, is this resignation? We think we already know the answer, we think we’ve somehow screwed up or the world isn’t fair, or we can’t recover from a loss or grief, we think that the future is being determined by the past or the present. And that’s the moment when we have to get super curious because something has ended or been taken from us or lost its joy, or its meaning. When we’re asking, what’s the point? Who cares? We really need to ask. 

Jennifer Louden  25:52

But when we usually ask, we’re not asking, we’re saying I know there’s no point, right? Who cares? Who cares about climate change? It’s too big. I don’t know what to do. I’m just one person, I ride my bike dork. Or who cares if my marriage is coasting? Because the kids are getting you know, we’re comfortable? I mean, really? Who wants to have sex anymore? Anyway? We’re in our 50s, you know, or who cares? If I write I mean, there’s so many writers out there, it’s so noisy live, why should I add my voice to what do I have to offer? Oh, my gosh, we think we know the answer in how we’re asking in our, in our very, if we could probably take a picture of ourselves and see what our posture looks like what our breathing looks like, right? 

Jennifer Louden  26:33

And what I’m insisting in the book is this is natural and inevitable. It’s baked into being human. And the way we ask that question can drag us down and make us settle and shut down and do nothing, or it can actually bring us back to the desire that is in all of us all the time, that can animate us and a lot and enliven us and eventually, maybe in days, or weeks or months, who knows? For me, it took years to what’s next. But it’s all in how we ask and if we don’t wake up to how we’re asking. And we’re going to have to wake up to it over and over again, right? Because it’s just so baked into our culture, our culture can be so cynical. If we don’t keep we’ll be able to face into our disappointment and our grief, and our weaknesses and our shadow and all the things that we know, to say, but I know there’s more for me, I don’t know what that more is going to feel like. But let me open the channel to it by letting myself feel desire again.

Dave Ursillo  27:41

So asking the question, why bother? It sounds like Jim, from my point of view, when we say that we when we use that, that kind of like crutch phrase, which is a signal of giving up. It’s actually admitting it sounds like that you that you don’t know, and maybe should answer it for yourself. 

Dave Ursillo  28:00

So the question is, actually, we ask it as if it’s rhetorical, because we assume it’s been answered. But it’s actually a literal question. Why bother? It’s I don’t know. I don’t know why we should bother. Which is a fascinating, fascinating thing to I’ve never thought of it that way.

Jennifer Louden  28:14

Yeah, it’s just like, Whoa, I mean, it’s just what your first question was, right? It’s, it’s totally geeking out on how we’re using the words and we can, and again, everybody you listening, you may never say why bother? You may say, what’s the point or nobody cares? Or you start to listen to what is your language? What are your language signs, that you’re falling into what I call the grubby bummer side of why bother? Right? Like it’s answered, it’s rhetorical. Who cares? 

Jennifer Louden  28:43

The whatever answer you have is going to be bad. And that’s the moment that we start to pause and bring in all the different ideas and skills that I share in the book more than you’ll ever need some of appeal to you. Some of them won’t. Some of them you’ll change and mold to be other things that serve you to exactly actually ask the question. Why do I care about writing? Why do I care? Who does care about my voice? Where are they? Am I willing to reach them? What do I need to do to win to to build my skills? Where am I crapping out on myself?

Dave Ursillo  29:20

They’re very scary and vulnerable question.

Jennifer Louden  29:22

They are they are but you’re sitting up you’re sitting up Arquette and your eyes are a little bit open.

Dave Ursillo  29:28

Absolutely sure. My posture is great right now. Yeah, it’s like you said you said open to it and feel and that’s that’s always I feel what we do. You know, again using the royal we what we as was as humans typically shut ourselves down to it is that like unknown uncertain future? And literally you do have to bear like, joking about like posture and sitting upright, but leading with your heart expanding like how Seeing a broader chest you know, like leading in a sense of is proud and determined to go forward into the unknown. 

Dave Ursillo  30:08

Not just being metaphorical here, but but quite literally, is the essence of what it is to follow our desire or our curiosity and a sense of play and joy, which I think it sounds like to you, Jim, are some of the like emotional keys that help us to unlock what it is that we want. It sounds like we actually have to risk the discomfort and to try in order to know rather than maybe knowing it all in advance, or thinking that we can lay out a perfectly strategic plan. Because sometimes things happen if a plan is to go out the window anyway. If not most,

Jennifer Louden  30:45

oh, there is no strategic plan. Can we just like own up to that when we see how much the world has changed in a matter of weeks, there is no strategic plan. And if you’re in the why bother place, and you try to make a strategic plan before you do anything, you are just going to keep cycling back into what’s the point? Absolutely. What we have to do is first begin to let wander open the door to desire. I wonder, I wonder what I want for lunch today. I wonder if I can go for a walk and see things on that same walk that I’ve never seen before I tell a story in the book about wander and how I’m like, Yeah, my life is so boring. I still live on an island and my I’ve walked this walk so many times, and I’m gonna go for a walk and look for new things. I won’t see anything. Maybe I’ll see some mushrooms. That’s all I’ll see. And then I go from walking along me. And I look. 

Jennifer Louden  31:40

And there is a water tower that I had never seen before. And I so clearly remember standing on that path and the woods going, could that be a new water tower, but it’s got graffiti on it and Moss and I’m like, I don’t think that water tower is new. I managed to walk this path 234 times a week for years, and not see that water tower. And now that might sound like what the heck has that going to help me love life again, how’s that helped me get my desire and figure out what’s next. But that’s what we do. What we do that keeps us stuck is we keep jumping ahead to wanting to know to certainty, which is exactly how our brains are built. 

Jennifer Louden  32:21

We have to overcome it little by little, we have to get wonder and desire flowing or wonder helps get desire flowing. So that we can have the energy to start trying things and we put the cart in front of the horse. We’re like, what am I going to do? What’s it going to look like? I’m going to figure it out. And then I’ll try it. That doesn’t work. I promise I tried.

Dave Ursillo  32:44

Absolutely. And there’s so much of what you just said Jen was beautifully articulated. Because it really is that it is profound. And really simple that we have to just kind of look around a little bit more and make different choices, conscious choices, in a way that feels like pedantic or a way that feels like it gets overly, it becomes like too simplistic. Some like yoga rooms or self help books, right? Where it just gets dumbed down or drilled into us so much that we start to tune it down because it just doesn’t seem to actually have roots in reality, on the one hand, or it doesn’t seem it seems so esoteric, and like pseudo spiritual, then it doesn’t feel applicable. But when you say something like as you did, that wonders, what gets desire flowing, what that tells me is Oh, like, really, if I am feeling stuck, and like I don’t have a good sense of direction, you know, or, or a lot of motivation. 

Dave Ursillo  33:42

And I start asking myself something like, why bother? Or what’s the point to? instead ask myself, you know, as we as we said, no, why? Why really bother like, and in other words, what am I actually curious about? What do I want to answer? What is? What are the questions that are nagging at me that I want to even explore and learn about before I even answer them. So it sounds like this inherent curiosity and asking questions and being led by being led by the unknowing rather than stopped by it is perhaps the way forward into desire.

Jennifer Louden  34:17

That’s a beautiful way to say it. And, and I also think that part of what I tried to explain elucidate explore in the book is that I think we’ve been missing a piece of the natural transitions that we go through in life big and small. And I really want to say that why bother can come through for an hour, it can come through for a week, it can come through for five years, right? It can come through in one area of your life, your marriage or intimate relationship, your creativity, your health, and it can be you can totally know why you bother in other areas of your life. 

Jennifer Louden  34:52

So you know, it’s a shifting thing. It’s a shifting, feeling state mood, I don’t know question but But what I feel like was missing has been missing that I tried to talk about in the book and make clear is that we something ends where it’s taken from us or loses its meaning. And the next thing isn’t clear yet or we’re not ready to own it yet, because we’re too scared or we’re, you know, we’re shying away from our it’s going to change too much about our lives. And we’re in the in between place. And that’s what I’m trying to give people guidance on. 

Jennifer Louden  35:28

How do we weather that in between place in a way that reawakens our desire, so whatever does get chosen next, whatever we do decide to do, again, small or big, has its roots in, in really in, in knowing ourselves, and having the energy and the desire to make good choices to make choices that we can really live with?

Dave Ursillo  35:54

Yeah, thank you so much for joining us and for sharing your work and your story. And it’s been a pleasure.

Jennifer Louden  36:01

Oh, totally. Thank you so much. Great questions, Dave.

Dave Ursillo  36:04

And thank you for listening to this episode of The New Story Is we’ll look back soon with a fresh interview for you. In the meantime, if you’re feeling generous and want to help support our show, please rate and review The New Story Is wherever you listen to podcasts. It helps others to find the show. 

Dave Ursillo  36:21

Until next time, I’m Dave Ursillo. This has been The New Story Is. bye for now.

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