Jen Louden | Teaching As An Opportunity To Become More Fully Ourselves

I was recently interviewed by Jennifer Louden for her course TeachNow. I shared with her some of my teaching experiences - the good and the not-so-good and what it's meant to me along the way. I wanted to share a bit of Jen's reaction to our conversation with you today.

Hi you all! I'm Jennifer Louden and I interviewed Ali recently for my course, TeachNow. I was so struck by Ali's interview I asked her if I could share a tad with you. I hope you find it as blazingly illuminating as I did.


Ali's first teaching gig was, in her words, "A disaster from the beginning." She was teaching at a scrapbooking convention and the company sponsoring her said, 'Just show up, grab some things and it will be fine.' It was not. "I didn’t know what to do. I was so outside of my element. I had no voice. I thought 'There’s none of me in this."

But here is the very cool beans thing I wanted to share with you: Ali's next teaching gig went great because "I went nuts in terms of preparation and figuring out what I really wanted to say beyond 'Here’s the thing that we’re going to make.' The scrapbooking world is very project based - you make a project, you’re walking people through the steps of the project and that’s the usual format. I decided that, for me, there was always going to be something more than just playing with this paper and this product. So the first teaching experience was a really good thing for me. I learned I’m always going to be prepared and I’m always going to have a deeper message."


Ali goes on to say that first "disaster" informed so much more than her in-person classes going forward - it formed her entire creative outlook - her blog, her books, her products. "A big piece of discovering my voice was recognizing there is so much more to it beyond gluing things. Having a deeper message, an intention that goes deeper, that is what I care about. I discovered my voice by seeing there is so much more to scrapbooking for me."

This is such a powerful message, it give me chills: our flubs and mistakes are not indications to quit nor are they telling us, "Do it like everybody else." They are holy moments to dig deep and ask, "What do I most care about here? Why am I doing this? Why me doing this?"

Ali says, "Since then it’s been practice. Practicing my message and asking, 'What do I want people to take away from this?' I'm intentional when I go into any teaching event or create any course, thinking about what I want people to take away from it. I only do things I wholeheartedly believe in, that I really care about."


Talking to Ali about teaching reminds me that teaching - any subject in any format - is always an opportunity to become more fully ourselves.  By doing so, we can impart so much more than how to make a die cut or a create a compelling layout - we can impart how to live wholeheartedly and be true to our deepest values.

Thanks Ali for illuminating my teaching.

ABOUT JEN | Jen Louden is a personal growth pioneer who helped launch the self-care movement with her first book The Woman’s Comfort Book. She co-created, with Fortune 100 executive trainer Michele Lisenbury Christensen, the popular course TeachNow for people who need more confidence, more income, and more power in their teaching - no matter the subject. On September 19th you can try TeachNow for free. Go here and enjoy!

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11 thoughts

  1. Helena says…

    and I'm so glad this is your approach to teching. I had almost given up on scrapbooking through frustration at the common project / step by step format of clsses. Then I stumbled upon you and Cathy Z and realised there were people who had a different approach and I stayed with this amazing hobby and creative outlet

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. pidgen says…

      I agree with Helena, this is exactly why I never bat an eye about buying your classes. I know for a FACT that if I go into one of your classes paying 'X' amount for 'A' outcome ... then I ALWAYS walk out with 'A','B',and 'C'. Seriously,I always feel that you are prepared and that you are personally motivated by your classes. Makes it SO TOTALLY worth it. :) You always "show up" for a class {or for anything in your life}, and the value is amazing.

  2. Susan says…

    I agree with Helena. I gave up taking classes at my LSS, totally frustrated with the cookie cutter approach to teaching classes. A kit was always required, "use paper A to make page 1"... I'd leave with a project in the style of the teacher, too frustrated to repeat the techniques and with a finished product that was not me. Your teaching style shows technique and allows the student the flexibility to make the project their own. Thank you for all that you do!

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Lynne Gillis says…

    This is so perfect.

    I remember once, years ago, I had gone to a CK convention in Nashville. It was such a big deal for me (at the time money was tight and this trip was total self-indulgence from my perspective!). Anyway, I walked away from that entire thing feeling so disappointed - so out of place - so smothered.

    I realized that not only did I not care about everything that came pre-packaged in "kit" form, but the focus on "do it just like this - and we're going to show you step-by-step" made me absolutely nuts. That's not to say it wasn't great for others, I'm sure it was... but for me, it was like the death knell to my authenticity.

    I literally felt claustrophobic. It was like the life was being slowly choked out of me.

    It was such a visceral reaction - but it told me a lot about myself. I need to follow my own instincts when scrapbooking. And while it might be nice to have some pretty product included, that's not the main thing. The main thing, as you so often remind us, is the stories.

    I love the message here - the self-awareness and the discovery of what works - and the future focus on that.

    Reply 1 Reply
    1. Molly says…

      Lynne: I've felt this too about the "industry" point of view - the chaos and commercialism to it all - and I too have come out with a stronger conviction to a personal desire to carry on in my own way. Well said!

  4. Molly says…

    Yes! Jen's perspective is spot-on; testimony to the true Ali experience.

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  5. helen says…

    I feel exactly like Helena and Lynne, it's all so formatted, and we all forget about what's important : memories, stories; Ali's classes are not simple projects, it's deeper, that's good for me.when you look around, you only see commercials for products, and more products...people don't talk about their stories, they talk about the new X collection, the wonderful Z paints or inks, will that make greater memories? I don't think so.

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  6. Mary Staveness says…

    The comment in the post about needing to do it like everybody else really resonates with me. I am a married woman, who works full-time outside the home and doesn't have any children. My "free" time is limited to evenings and weekends, but there's also laundry to be done, dinner to be made, bills to be paid, etc. So, my creative time doesn't happen as often as I'd like it to. I don't have time to take lots of photos, and there certainly aren't any of cute little kids making funny faces or heading off to school. I've only recently realized that my creative endeavors are really more about journaling. I don't need to do Project Life, or other similar activities just because that's what everyone else is doing. I'm not sure why I've spent so much time caring about what others are doing and comparing myself. I'm glad that I recently came to the realization that it doesn't have to be that way.

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. rani says…

    I like to refer to Jen Louden as a wisdom teller......Thanks for sharing your interview with her!

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Jennifer Louden says…

    coming in late to the party and so glad this resonated with you all!

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Mehmet says…

    I have a copy of Cold Spring Harbor that, apparently, has been rrtsameeed. I have yet to figure out whether or not it is more weird than good or more good than weird. Don't get me wrong, there have been times that I've just about worn it out. As soon as I read the words Cold Spring Harbor in your post, Billy's You can make me free came into my head there's a ton of Paul McCartney influence apparent, at least to my ears.I don't think Billy had completely gotten through puberty on that one. His voice it more pure, and his range greater, than you would be used to. If you can find it digitally rrtsameeed, get it. I'm not familiar with Wainright, but I do note that he hangs out with the Roches. Gonna have to check him out Like your blog, too. Blogroll material.

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