50-for-50 interview: Danielle LaPorte, pyrotechnician

danielle laporte

The meteoric ascent of Danielle LaPorte would only surprise someone who has never been in her presence. Once you have shared air space with this woman, and felt the waves of gentle power that come off of her like heat, you get it instantly (not to mention why she calls herself The Fire Starter). Danielle would be the last one to pooh-pooh hard science (all of her own successes were personally road-tested and hard-won), but she is absolutely a friend of the metaphysical, and happily harnesses it to move herself and others forward. Or, to put it rather more bluntly, she intuits the crap out of shit. She dials herself down, fully taking someone in to see them in a way they have likely never been seen before. More importantly, she lets them see not only where they need to go next, but what natural-born gifts they have to help them find their way there. What’s surprising, then, is not her rise, but that she manages to keep both feet so firmly on the ground. Although I suspect that a certain very human little boy of hers might have something to do with that.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I’m a writer? Rrright…blog, books… “writer”. I fancy myself as a philosopher who happens to write. Silly as it may sound, I didn’t feel like a writer until years into my writing career. I don’t write fiction, I barely read fiction. I write stories, but only true ones. I’m poetic but not very literary. I don’t journal, because I prefer to have an audience—and if they’re adoring, well then I feel justified in being such a lazy writer.

Truthfully, I’ve been “making books” since I was a little girl. Leaving sentences around the house. Writing epic love letters. Always searching for just the right word—because it feels so damn sweet to find just the right word.

Who was your favorite teacher?

Mrs. Kathleen Mulvey, Saint Anne’s High. She was my Grade 12 English Teacher. She saw me. A defining moment: it’s the high school graduation banquet. Scholastic awards are being handed out over penne pasta and iceberg lettuce salad. Steve, let’s call him Steve, wins the award for outstanding achievement in Advanced English.

Veiled by parental applause, Mrs. Mulvey discreetly leans over to me and says, “That award should have been yours, but he beat you by one percent. He’s got the grammar, but you’ve got the passion.” Spurred me on, she did. Passion became the priority, proofreaders can always be hired.

What do you love to write about?

I’m a Distinctifier. (Just made up that word — ’cause I’m writer.) I love, love, love making distinctions in concepts, especially personal growth notions, and especially subtle noticing that shift how you look at everything. Like… the difference between hope and faith, or between righteousness and arrogance, or between self-improvement and true self-acceptance. Basically, I take the piss out of the New Age in a way that might wake people up to become truly…New Age.

What has writing taught you?

That there is always more where that came from. When you let your ideas go, you become stronger, when you guard them, your expression muscle atrophies. Creativity needs to be freed, not calculated—I think this is heart of innovation. Just get the ideas out, now, and more will follow.

How has writing made you stronger?

I see two types of strength, here. One is the leather-hide, toughened-ego strength. Writing publicly is not for the faint of character. You will get criticized. You will be judged. You have to keep going.

The other kind of strength comes from the family of openness, vulnerability, tenderness. Sharing what I see and feel as made me much more compassionate for other people because I feel more conencted to those around me. I’m also very touched by the reciprocity of love when people respond to what I put out there. It’s very softening, and to me, that’s strength.

If you could go back in time and tell 10-year-old you anything, what would it be?

Don’t go to bed with gum in your mouth. And, YOU ARE IMPORTANT. You matter so much to the world. You always have and you always will.

What are your five favorite books, blogs or things to read?

  1. My seven-year-old boy can leave a little note like “Mama, gone to the groshery stor with dada.” And I read it, like, ninety times before I have it hermetically sealed in a love vault. He’s a prodigy, of course.
  2. Rumi makes my heart burst ten times per stanza. In general, I love autobiographies, getting into people’s head, analyzing how they measure and dish on their existence.
  3. The Unfolding Now, by AH Almaas deeply affected me.
  4. Mark Nepo’s Book of Awakening is always with me.
  5. And People magazine is my most guilty, grinning pleasure, my window to the world, actually.

Danielle LaPorte is the creator of WhiteHotTruth.com, which has been called “the best place on-line for kick-ass spirituality.” She is the author of The Spark Kit: A Digital Experience for Entrepreneurs, an inspirational speaker, and a former think-tank executive. Her next book, The Fire Starter Sessions: A Guide to Blazing Your Own Trail in Life & Work, launches in April 2012 from Random House. You can find her on Twitter @daniellelaporte 

Photo credit : UnionPhotographers, Vancouver

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