Phoenix Rising: Stories of Remarkable Women Walking Through Fire

Phoenix Rising: Stories of Remarkable Women Walking Through Fire


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How do you go on after you've lost everything?

Over several terrifying summers, deadly wildfires raged across Colorado. Lives were lost, and the flames destroyed thousands of homes. When the smoke cleared and only rubble remained, survivors were left trying to find a way forward against devastating loss. The aftermath of that destruction would span many years, and its effects are still felt today.

In "Phoenix Rising", twenty women share their stories of fire, the terror they felt as flames engulfed their communities, and the dark desperation that followed. And how—in the ensuing weeks and months—they worked to recreate a life from the ashes. Their tales of fear and bravery, of deep compassion and heart-rending grief, offer an uplifting chronicle of human courage and resilience.

In "Phoenix Rising" written by women united by wildfire, they have the privilege of stepping into those moments to stand in the hallways of their shock and fear, grief and disorientation, and then, armed with the wisdom of retrospection, walking out into whatever comes next.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781630477233
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Publication date: 04/05/2016
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

About the Author

Kristen has a Masters in Counseling and is the author of "Waiting for Jack" and "What Are You Waiting For?". A TEDx speaker, she has been featured on NPR, ABC, NBC, Fox News and Tiny House Nation.

Leslie has a degree in Human Development and Family Studies. Along with working on her memoir Edge of Next and gathering stories for Phoenix Rising she is a caregiver for the elderly in Bellingham, Washington.

Read an Excerpt

Those of us who have experienced grief, or lived through intense trauma, know that healing has no definitive path. Walking through grief is not a straight line, no matter how much we wish it were. Instead, it’s often rocky terrain with many unexpected bumps in the road. The other side of grief is not a place of arrival but merely a momentary resting place. Yet healing is possible, and one day we smile again.

The healing balm in these stories comes from many sources—time spent in nature, the comfort of counselors, a belief in God—or another form of a higher power—love from family or friends, pets, yoga, writing, the wisdom of turning inward, as well as bouts of screaming and crying. We have discovered that true healing ultimately arises from our deepest core, even though trauma can make us question even that.

Before we met, we both craved a connection with other women who had walked through fire. We longed for a storytelling society where women gathered together in a circle to share, support, and give strength. We sought out women who had been writing their own tales after their experiences with fire. Intuitively, we knew these writings held a rare and remarkable gift. We recognized the power of sharing our journeys of how fire forged our souls, left us blackened and scarred, yet more beautiful than ever.

The vision for this book arose like a flame for each of us, and then it slowly burned out when we realized that for many women, in the early days after their fires, it was too soon to share. Hearts were too tender and raw; memories too painful. We remembered those days, consumed with finding a place to live and clothes to wear, when we didn’t have space for much else. Somewhat dismayed, we practically abandoned the idea of collecting stories. (Leslie was hard at work focusing her attention on her memoir about the fire, "Edge of Next", while Kristen was finishing and publishing her second book, "What Are You Waiting For? Learn How to Rise to the Occasion of Your Life.")

Then one fateful day, we met through a phone call and immediately recognized a sisterhood. We shared and cried and then confessed that we both imagined the concept for this book. For each of us, writing became a grounding force after losing our homes. It kept us sane. It kept us connected to something larger than ourselves. And it kept us moving forward.

Working as partners has been a gift. Neither of us could have completed this project alone while we sought to pull our own lives together, find new places to call home, finish the reams of insurance paperwork, and finally heal.
The wisdom in this book comes from women of varying ages, backgrounds, and experiences. They share a medley of therapeutic paths, diverse spiritual beliefs, and the common thread of healing through the passage of time. Some women lost their homes, some stood by helplessly as they watched their neighbors lose theirs, some fought fires, and others helped mend broken hearts. We received stories from award-winning authors and from those who had never written before. No matter our differences, we found we had much in common, and though our healing paths varied, our hearts overlapped.

We call the women in these stories “firewalkers.” Firewalkers are people who have walked through the fires of life, whether literal or metaphorical, and emerge with a deeper understanding of themselves and the world. Our collection of firewalkers who share their stories were literally transformed by fire. Yet many people live through a traumatic event that alters them forever, such as illness, accidents, divorce, natural disasters, death of a loved one, abuse, or war. No matter your background or the version of fire you have walked through in life, we hope these stories will bring you comfort in knowing you are not alone in your journey.

A suggestion: if you buy this book for a firewalker, giftwrap it in beautiful paper. Tell them what’s inside, but let them open it only when they’re ready. It’s questionable whether or not they will open it the first year after their fire—and if they do, they may not be able to finish reading it. The second year after the fire they’ll love it. They’ll read each story and cry and cry. Then they will read it again.

As they read, they will be reassured that they are not crazy, and their tears will cleanse their pain. The third year they may or may not want to read the book or think about fire. Instead, they’ll need to bask in joy. For most of the women in the book, we still don’t know what the fourth year of healing will bring. The experience of fire continues to transform us. Some of us still aren’t sure who we will be on the other side.

The women in these pages will always be our heroes and part of our clan. We thank them for sharing their writing and opening our hearts. We have all lived through a horrendous experience that dapples the background of our lives and colors it with both strength and sadness. We hope these stories will help others understand what it takes to be a firewalker.

So, in the end, the phoenix rises, but we have found through experience that it takes its own sweet time.

Table of Contents

Phoenix Rising by Leslie Aplin Wharton

Poem: I Know the Color Gray by Jenn Nolte

Here Be Dragons by Barbara Nickless

After Disaster, Beauty Remains by Kendra Eucker

Life on Melvina Hill by Ann Lansing

No Ordinary Fire by Sandi Yukman

My Paradise by Louise Creager

Poem: Shades by Beth Cutter

The 503: The Things We Leave Behind by Melissa Fry

Starting Over by Jackie Klausmeyer

Rising from the Ashes by Yvette Trantham

The Dream by Jenn Nolte

Canyon Spirit by Bonnie Antich

Irreplaceable Things by Susan Ruane McConnell

Poem: Tempered, Forged, Tensiled FREE by Astrid

Fire on the Mountain by Cheryl Delany

The Wildfire of Birth by Amanda DeAngelis

The Thoughtful Side of Insanity by AnnMarie Arbo

For Better or for Worse by Linda Masterson

Finding Meaning in the Fire by Bethany Trantham

Walking through Fire by Kristen Moeller

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