"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,
Amanda