"I need to let those stories go" // Maureen Helms Blake: Bitter & Beautiful

I could hardly believe it when Maureen told me what she planned for her column in The Phoenix Soul: Brave First Steps. All my life, I've seen her with journals nearby, gel pens at the ready. Shelves full of completed books, teeming with evidence of her life deeply lived. 

  Maureen burning her old stories

Maureen burning her old stories

So when she told me she needed to burn them--inspired partly by Syda Howery's intentional destruction of her own journals, mentioned in her Truth Tribe interview--I was stunned. Awed.

And when she agreed to let me be witness, to film and photograph the experience for Brave First Steps? Yes yes yes!

Nearly 100 journals (a literal wheelbarrow full), offered to the flames. Why?

. . . what once grounded me, held me steady during both uplift and turmoil, now tethers me to an outgrown past. All that good is with me forever, enshrined deep within. I treasure those memories. But the stories of heartbreak and loss, of fear and despair—too often painfully cyclical—need to be released. I cannot stand, free, in the present, or step bravely into the next waiting moment, while mired in What Has Been.
— Maureen Helms Blake, Bitter & Beautiful columnist, TPS: Brave First Steps

Maureen felt no regret or sadness as her words turned to ash: "I hadn’t anticipated how quickly and thoroughly a soaring freedom would wash over
me. Exhilarate me."

As she finished tending the fire, wheelbarrow now empty, she realized: "Bold journeys require bold first steps."

  Photograph by Amanda Fall, witnessing Maureen's journal-burning; published in TPS Brave First Steps

Photograph by Amanda Fall, witnessing Maureen's journal-burning; published in TPS Brave First Steps

Read Maureen's backstory and experience the journal-burning along with her in TPS: Brave First Steps.

Phoenix, what bold journey are you craving? 
What brave first steps will set you on the right path?

Your letting-go might not look as dramatic as Maureen's; yours might be simple, small, quiet. It could be as simple as saying no when you're used to saying yes (or vice versa!).

Whatever YOUR brave first step is . . . anticipate that "soaring freedom." You can do this. And you aren't alone.

With love & awe,

"I am the morning song" // Melissa Fernandez: Brave First Steps

Happy birthday to beloved staff creative and inspiratrice Melissa Fernandez.

She welcomed a new decade of "life riddles and wild adventures" with us in her photo essay, "My Forty," in The Phoenix Soul: Brave First Steps.

December came with great ache and frustration, as Melissa was caught in a web of shoulds and must-dos to make her "a worthy woman":

December brought me to the light, delivered me
into sheer brightness and clarity. The strength of despair also guided me. With her dark ways, she unveiled the piercing truth.
— Melissa Fernandez, TPS: Brave First Steps

Melissa remembered that her forty is a trickster and a teacher:

This is one woman’s story. This is my forty. All my many escapades of living. [...] All the new ways that surfaced when surrender was the next best ending. All my heart-wrenching stories of a human trying to make it through. This is all we’re ever doing.
— Melissa Fernandez, TPS: Brave First Steps

She then rises triumphantly:

This is my experience of life riddles and wild adventures. Of heartache and pain. Of reaching and rising. Of getting up once again as a new morning welcomes me back. Of a dark night when my soul sings, erupts truth, and invites gentle first steps.
— Melissa Fernandez, TPS: Brave First Steps

Welcome to forty, Melissa. Thank you for inviting us to journey with you as you brave-step into a new decade.

Love & respect,
(your fellow phoenix)

just one step // The Phoenix Soul: Brave First Steps

Phoenix, do you feel brave?

Honestly . . . I rarely do. Anxiety often piles up roadblocks in my path. Too often, I've lived as a smaller, quieter, less vibrant version of my best self.

My saving grace, though, is remembering this: you don't need ALL the bravery in order to move forward, toward the life of your dreams--one spilling over with meaning, depth, purpose, passion.

You just need enough bravery for one tiny (infinitesimal) step. 

One brave move leads to another.

I'm so grateful for today's new release of our digital magazine, The Phoenix Soul. The theme? Brave First Steps. It's a wildly colorful celebration of daily bravery, including stories about letting go (burning 100+ journals! What?!), coming out, living with chronic illness and anxiety, and more.

This issue is an encouraging companion for the new year, as so many of us re-commit to living our best lives. 

Phoenix, you and I are so much braver than we give ourselves credit for . . . simply being ourselves (in all our messy beauty, full of feeling) in a world that's sometimes overwhelming. It matters. We matter. 

I hope to see you in our vibrant pages. I'd love to celebrate our brave (and sometimes timid) souls together. We're so much stronger united.

Sending you so much love,
(your fellow phoenix)