It’s a Monday evening in July and I’m back in London. It’s been 9 months since I’ve been away this time and it’s weird being back.
It took 3 days of panic attacks and doubt but I got on the plane.
London has my heart. That alone is why I can’t stop going and why I can’t stand going.
It’s too much of everything all at once and my feelings don’t know where to go or what to do so they all just sort of weigh my heart down and make me feel sad even while I’m happy.
I was hesitant to come back this time, but it’s about to change.
I am here this time to see one of my favorite writers, Danielle LaPorte. We all have our various reasons for travelling 5000 kilometres across the sea and right now, this one is mine.
I first read her book, The Desire Map, when I moved back to Canada from London at the end of 2016 and all of the kismet and serendipity in the world conspired to have this book fall into my lap.
I was on the cusp of change and going through a break up with someone I thought I would be with always, a move between countries, a loss of a job and an apartment and leaving all my friends behind. I was a new person going back to an old place.
In short, The Desire Map was exactly what I needed to read at exactly the right time.
As it turns out, Danielle LaPorte has written several books that have changed my life and by sharing her heart regularly on social media, her ideas have helped me get clearer on my own beliefs.
My girl-crush-writer-soul-sister worship is at an all time high.
The event is at St. James Church, half way between Piccadilly and Green Park. This is my favorite spot in all of London. A 5 minute walk in one direction and I am in the centre of it all, in Piccadilly Circus. Five minutes the other way, and I am standing in front of Buckingham Palace.
I walk in and Danielle LaPorte is standing in the entrance. She smiles and says hi. I say hi and quickly make my way into the chapel, afraid if I stand there for one second longer, I will spill my innermost gratitude all over the place.
Thank you for writing. Thank you for for your creativity. Thank you for making the bold choice to put your art out into the world so that it could reach me when I needed it. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I take my seat in the first row.
We’re all sitting in chairs that were probably once lined up neatly in a row, but which have since been shifted slightly as we all take our seats. We’re squished in closely and I can overhear the people in the row behind me introducing themselves to each other.
A lady to my right reaches back to shake her new friend’s hand.
Her new friend doesn’t reach out her hand in return.
“Sorry, I don’t like touching people.”
The awkwardness around us all becomes palpable.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Um, is that a religious thing?”
“Not really. I can feel energy really strongly. I can feel you all around me, so if we touch, it becomes overwhelming for me.”
“If you blink, I can feel it. All your facial movements right now, I can feel.”
I had wondered what kind of people would be here tonight.
As it turns out, an energy reader is one of them. There is also a man who ended up at the event because he was curious after seeing it advertised in an email newsletter. There is an excited girl who is introducing herself to all of us one by one. There are several life coaches, along with a few bloggers and a podcast host that I recognize from his online presence.
The elderly woman to my left leans in and asks if it’s my first time in the church. I tell her no and ask about her. She tells me she comes to the church every Sunday and since it’s her regular church, she comes to all the events they hold in the evenings.
She leans closer.
“You probably don’t know this but William Blake was baptized in the fountain outside.”
“Oh. I didn’t realize that,” I say. Because, well, I didn’t.
She tells me more about William Blake, about stained glass and the history of the church. I don’t wake her when she falls asleep a few minutes later.
Finally, the talk begins.
I am ready for Danielle’s wisdom like I have been walking through the desert of life for the past 33 years and just a droplet will be life changing.
The talk opens with a meditation. Danielle tells us that the quickest way to do the work of The Desire Map is this: think of the ways that you are so tired of feeling. Think of the feelings that you want to lay down, take off and put aside for good. The ones that feel heavy.
Now, think of what the opposite of those feelings would be. Those are likely your core desired feelings.
It really is that simple and that deep.
The evening is informal and casual. We all look to Danielle as if she has all the answers and wisdom and what we see is her looking right back at all of us.
We seek out her wisdom and she seeks ours.
We talk about manifestation and action, about climate change, about churches and swearing. We talk about therapists and vulnerability.
She drops nuggets of wisdom like they are simply crumbs from a cake, brushing them aside. I try to soak it all in while feeling grateful for everything. I could have sat there for days.
She tells us how she used to live in fear, “I was terrified that something would trigger my terror.” Then she gently and quickly reminds us that “…being traumatized by something doesn’t mean you created it.” And just as important, that our pain is not the truth of who we are.
I try to take it all in and take notes and be present all at the same time.
She explains that being reflective is an action. It’s a thing that we do. I think of all the silent work I have been doing over the past year or so. All the studying and reading, the writing and learning. There were the times that I sat so still, I could feel my breath coming out of every pore of my body. There is the daily journaling, the studying of breath and sunsets.
My own active reflection.
We talk a lot about tending to our deepest sensitivities, as Danielle calls it.
I think of the trips I’ve taken myself on, the nights sat by this pool or that ocean. The days spent wandering in the sunshine in cities that were new to me at first and beloved by the end of the week.
Tending, sowing, reaping. Breathing, flowing, receiving.
She poses a question to us all, gathered there on that sweaty Monday evening.
“What is your souls expression of empowering?”
I think of how I feel most days. Strong, grateful, able.
I dwell on the thought that the more I do for myself, the more I can then do for others. By tending to my own needs, I get to be more authentic in my friendships and relationships.
Empowered. It’s a word that fits, lately, despite the hard days, which are fewer are farther between.
After a round of questions, the evening comes to a close. We clap and the crowd disperses, save for those lining up for hugs and selfies.
I take myself out into the night, grateful for the things I’ve learned over the past two and a half years since I first picked up The Desire Map.
Grateful for honest words and fast airplanes and broken patterns.
Thankful that the old stories are getting replaced and that I am far enough away now that I have a new vantage point to look back from.
Excited to pay it all forward, because as Danielle taught us tonight, ‘your growth is my growth and my growth is your growth.’