desire map: week one and two. introducing desire + the magnetics of feelings.

photos from the first night of the desire map book club.

beside time or money, what else do i want more of?
what do i do most naturally? i stop being generous when ________. i’m dead set against ________. what is the difference between emotions and feelings? wants and desire?

questions you’ve probably never asked yourself. start asking.

part 1. stunted vocabulary. i have spent a lot of time this month lamenting my extremely poor vocabulary when it comes to desire, emotions, feelings. digging in and discussing with myself ‘what are my preferred states of being?” is one thing, but finding the words to communicate the swelling of my soul and the expansiveness of my nerves is entirely another.

thesaurus explorations have been the most enlightening. i can usually sit and close my eyes and experience a feeling/aura that i crave….and from there, i quickly write as many words as i can that surround that idea. then i go on a deep dive, and write out every synonym. it doesn’t matter if the word doesn’t fully encompass the whole feeling – it just has to be part of it. here are some examples:

generative, natural, outdoors, green, woodsy, elemental, wood nymph, wet, damp, rich, dirt, earthy, tactile, palpable, dirty, sensory, lush

centered + light, anchored, deep, unmoved, calm, quiet, shakti, transcendent, seraphic, astral, chimerical, celestial

dark, aphotic, reflective, observant, separate, sombre, shadowy, swelling, flowing, ebbing, fluidic, airy, surreal, untouched, dreamlike, amaranthine, weaving, unaffected, surreal, ethereal, fairy

observance: the english language is extremely stunted when it comes to some types of desire. surprisingly, sexy/sensual is one of these desires. go ahead — see if you can find synonyms other than raw, animalistic, lustful, arousing.

part 2. desires vs wants.
a reoccurring theme in our book club is shaking ex-religions or just religious baggage from ourselves. our group is a merging of catholic, christian and jewish upbringings, and it’s almost comforting to see that the christian guilt associated with creating time to discover and pursue MY desires is not limited to traditional protestant christians. identifying the difference between a core desired feeling [preferred state of being] and a want has been immensely helpful.

want: to have sex
desire: sensuality and/or wild and/or connection and/or comfort

want: to sleep in late
desire: calm, relaxed, healthy

want: to eat cake
desire: joy and/or pleasure and/or satisfaction

comparing wants with desires in this way illuminates how rarely we are conscious of TRUE desires. our daily life rarely gets past the fleeting wants. you could be a selfish-to-the-point-of-hurting-others person, always choosing your ‘wants’ — but never operating out of your desires. or you could be the most generous-alive-radiant person, rarely choosing your ‘wants’ but always operating out of your desires. ideally, we all land somewhere in a very healthy middle, because wants and desires are not always mutually exclusive (and wants are not bad things) but this juxtaposition reveals what a mistake it is to equate wants with desires.

observance: ‘selfish’ means lacking consideration for others. you can give attention and priority to Self, without lacking consideration for others.

part 3a. gratitude. i am bad at gratitude. i am good at being grateful, but i am bad at the practice of gratitude. sitting down and writing out the ‘why am i grateful for ____’ was like taking a little road trip through my soul and ooo-ing and ahhh-ing over all these different pieces of me that i’ve never seen before.

i am grateful for my home – because it makes me feel anchored, gives space for expression
i am grateful for my kitties – because they make me feel joyful, generous, loving, playful
i am grateful for my friend ____ – because she lets me both give and receive, knows my flaws & understands them, helps me be honest
i am grateful for photography – makes me feel generative and perceptive
i am grateful i stopped attending church – i’ve become more simplified, certain + accepting, less bitter and conditional

it is so revealing to look at the whys, in all five areas of our life: livelihood & lifestyle, body & wellness, creativity & learning, relationships & society. essence & spirituality. i’ve started asking myself daily what i’m grateful for in this moment, only so i can play around with the new discovers of the WHY and what it reveals.


okay. this is the fastest way to turn your world upside down and crush dissatisfaction under the heel of your new boots. i started pinning everything i had: my favorite cosmetics, my clothing, my lingerie, my furniture, my plants, my dishes, my bedding, my pets…and i still am not done pinning. tip: don’t limit it to material things. i’m an aestetics/fashion/decor person, so much of my life is directed towards materials – but pin your love notes, your art, the people in your life, your anything and everything. 

most of us have acted upon our tastes and ‘dream homes’ or ‘dream closets’ and do own a handful of things we really love. but they are quickly forgotten. pinning everything to a board forces you to look at your property objectively, through the same lens we scroll through pinterest/instagram/blogs with. it creates a rush of ‘MY LIFE IS WAY MORE BEAUTIFUL THAN I THOUGHT.” don’t you miss that rush?

resist the urge to compare your board to mine. we look and say, ‘oh she has cooler stuff than me.’ cooler = the word we use for novelty. this exercise is for you to re-create novelty in your own life. it works. i’m obsessed.

More about The Desire Map: I am blogging my way through my experience leading a Desire Map book club. The first post, Learning How To Desire, is here. You can get the book here. If you’d like to join the next book club I host in Los Angeles, email me at laurennicolelove[at] to join the waiting list. You can also follow my Pinterest board here.

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  1. LIZ says:

    This is great. Also, your living room is top notch. I want to come hang out! I like that you are writing despite lack of vocab etc.

  2. Allyson says:

    I’ve been reading this book, too, and I 100% agree with what you said about spirituality/religion. I think the idea of finding the source of anything [ie – your core beliefs, your base desires, etc] within yourself is extremely looked down on by the church [at least the one I grew up in] because if you are religious/spiritual the source of everything SHOULD be God [ie – GUILT, how can you separate God from yourself?!, etc]. I don’t think that is fair, and it’s been very hard to shake that guilt that is so ingrained from growing up in the church while going through this book. I was relieved to see that I wasn’t the only one!

    Happy reading/guilt-shedding! 🙂

  3. Stef says:

    Dear Lauren,

    You inspire me. Thank you so much for sharing who you are via the internet! The bits and pieces of your journey which I’ve read encourage me greatly. I’m on a journey of trying to shake off harmful ways of thinking I was inculcated with by my conservative evangelical upbringing and, though my background is not exactly the same as yours and I haven’t been through half of what you have, I find much of what you share resonates with me and where I am now. Reading what you share spurs me on in my own journey, and inspires me to continue to pursue horizons different from the one I was told I had to seek 🙂

    With love from Canada,

  4. Candice says:

    I just spent the last year wrestling with leaving “my” church and reading “i am grateful i stopped attending church – i’ve become more simplified, certain + accepting, less bitter and conditional” hit me with the second biggest sense of relief I’ve had since I made the decision (the first being finally leaving the church). Thank you so much for being so brave and honest, you have no idea how much it helps.

    • / / / / lauren nicole / / / / says:

      Thank you, Candice. 🙂 I almost didn’t list that one out because of the way some people would take it, but I decided there was no reason to hide it! I’m glad it helped and encouraged you!

  5. Cecily says:

    Wow! I need to read this book. I seriously just learned so much! I’m sitting here sleepy and wanting more sleep and the whole wants/desires thing just completely taught me something new. I love it.

  6. HipHop pl says:

    Najlepsze bity na sprzedaz w Polsce. Profesjonalny mastering w niskich cenach.Muzyczny producent Jsfamilia


  1. […] how to desire and my previous handicaps with feelings + passions, my post on discovering that i had a stunted emotional vocabulary and that desires + wants are not synonymous, and some massive soul […]

  2. […] dig around. The first post I wrote was Learning How To Desire, and I also wrote on discovering that my emotional vocabulary was stunted. Here are some soul awakenings that came from the process and my most recent blog post announcing […]

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