It’s 2015 and I’m doing The Desire Map for the first time. I don’t remember which one of my friends posted Danielle LaPorte’s work on Facebook or what it was, but she’s been bringing a healing salve and loving voice to my email inbox for two years now. I am working an Executive Assistant job that pays twice my previous salary, which I have wanted to quit almost since I started. How do you want to feel? the workbook asks me, trying to be helpful. My first Core Desired Feelings include words like Autonomous, Joyfully Disruptive, and Lit Up. I put the words on Post-Its and stick them to my computer monitor. I don’t feel any of these things, I think.
It’s 2016 and I am quitting my day job to write full time. The day before I leave, I get sued. I spiral pretty hard. I dive back into The Desire Map as something to hold onto. New words emerge: Sparkly. Magic. Free. I start beginning my day by asking what I can do to feel each of these things, and writing out the answers.
I’m a typist for six months at an ad agency with a roof deck and a sweet cafeteria, and it’s one of the best day jobs of my life. I settle my lawsuit. I start teaching playwriting and writing articles for a parenting website. I buy cute thrift store clothes, get the undercut I’ve always wanted, and pierce my nose. I travel the country doing my solo show. I go to Palm Springs for a feminist career conference. I get a book deal, and the advance cancels out the debt I’ve accrued since quitting my day job. I feel sparkly, magical, free as fuck.
It’s 2016. It’s November. I can’t move. For a long time I give up on feeling how I want to feel because how would that even be possible? But, I have to produce this play that I signed a space rental contract for, and I have to go to my sister’s wedding, and I have to make rent. I have to be a person. So I try to turn my fear into fuel. Fuel to learn, to act, to move. I slowly, slowly allow the possibility that maybe I’m not a bad person if I try to feel good even now.
It’s 2017. I finally sign up for a business course I’ve been eyeing for years, in part because it comes with the licensing program for The Desire Map. I become a Facilitator. I admit, through doing the business course, that I want to be a life coach.
I take my first Desire Map client while I am still completing my first life coach certification program. She’s a friend, and I’m nervous, but the process moves easily and organically, and she reiterates to me how helpful the work has been for her. I guess I can do this, I think.
I take more clients. I lead workshops. I watch as Desire Map clients stop procrastinating, start exercising, quit soul-killing jobs and start exciting new ones, sign up for acting classes, art classes, start volunteering, deal with long-overdue paperwork. If this didn’t work, I often think, it would be so easy to see this work as frivolous. But it does work.
It’s 2018. I’ve just ended a loving three-year relationship and I’m a hot mess. Less than two weeks later, I’m leading a Desire Map workshop, and I decide for the first time to do the process along with the participants. I emerge with new words yet again: Holy. Alive. Expand. Release. I’M FUCKING WORTH IT (in caps, always).
These words are no doubt emboldened by the voices I am listening to at this point. The most radical humans I look up to keep encouraging slowness, pleasure, connection to the earth and ourselves and each other.
-The holiness of ritual. Of gathering in song with like-minded souls, of a morning routine, of a tarot card pulled. How can we better look after our spirits, so that we are more whole for the fight?
-Insistence on aliveness and not just survival, not simply limping from one angry direct action to another, but asking: how does your body feel? How much more alive might we feel if we simply started noticing the answer to that question more often?
-The expansion of unlearning. Of fitting new information inside your body. The expansion of “I was wrong, and I’m sorry.” Expanding to hold new truths while also learning, when appropriate, to take up less space. Becoming bigger and yet more right-sized.
-The release of shame, the shame that fuels white supremacy and misogyny because we’re so afraid of not being one of the “good ones.” The release of tension from my body because if I’m anxious all day I’ll just stay in lizard-brain survival mode. The release of old stories.
-I’M FUCKING WORTH IT. I am worth cleaning my room for. I am worth making healthy food for. I am worth saving money for. I’ve known for years that burnout isn’t romantic, at least intellectually, but I’ve told myself the story for years that refusing to show up for myself is creative genius or inevitable or a cute quirk. It isn’t. And I am noticing more and more that the folks I look up to the most, the most world-changing radical queer leaders, have radiant boundaries and deep deep care for themselves.
It’s 2018. I’m realizing I’m nonbinary. I’m listening to Danielle LaPorte’s new podcast, and her gender essentialism, which has just kinda been quietly in the background for me for years, suddenly leaps out at me like a fucking lion. I write a very lengthy blog post about it, and as soon as I publish it, I find out that she’s also been running some racist-ass Facebook ads. I decide not to renew my Desire Map Facilitator license the following year. I decide to keep teaching the work up until the last minute because it works and because I know I can share it in a way that is radical and expansive and that, hopefully, doesn't perpetuate the creator's bigotry.
My license expires in 2019.
I want to share this work with a group one last time.
I want you to join me.