through the fire*

manzanita_beach_retreat.jpg
The view from our beach house, Manzanita beach, Oregon, Canon Digital Rebel XSi

Just got back from the Oregon coast where I had the sweetest time ever at the Be Present Retreat. Imagine 24 women in the dreamiest house on the beach, connecting, discovering more of who they are, playing, making art, and laughing a lot. It was part slumber party, part workshop, part vacation, and the best kind of fun. I will never forget the ladies I met there and their beautiful stories.

kelly_rae_apron.jpg
Kelly Rae Roberts in her fabulous paint covered apron, Oregon, Canon Digital Rebel XSi

It was also my first time teaching since a year ago at Squam… and I was nervous about how it would go for me. (I had kind of a rough time with my first teaching experience) It’s amazing to see what a year of growth can do for your spirit, how I could literally feel in my body how much a year had rearranged me.

It’s a long story. One I might write someday, but this retreat was a kind of celebration for me. A celebration of how much I have grown this year, how far I have come in my soul work. It was a hard year, but one I am ultimately grateful for. (I was not at all grateful while it was happening, by the way) It was a year of going through the fire and then coming out the other side changed, stronger, and hopefully more beautiful for it. I think of a piece of clay in the kiln going through the fire and coming out the other side even more dazzling. Colors you didn’t even expect coming to the surface, the whole piece stronger and more beautiful, those lessons you learned now a part of you forever.

Thank goodness for blessings like these… when we do our soul work and it pays off. My reward this time around is a restful heart, a confident spirit, and more capacity to connect and experience joy. I am so grateful.

Can you remember a time when you went through the fire? What were the gifts on the other side for you?

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Hi, I’m Andrea

On this blog you’ll be learning with me how to use our voices, share our creative superpowers and live life in full color.

As an artist, photographer, life coach + mentor, I’m redefining what it means to be a SUPERHERO — ‘cause in my world, it’s got nothing to do with capes, spandex or sidekicks and everything to do with tenderness, intuition & baby steps of bravery.

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27 Comments

  1. jen gray

    so so glad you had a beautiful time…you have worked hard… we all are working hard, and it so helps to hear when we get to the other side of things, closer to who we were meant to be.
    i know the fire well, and i love coming through it all..
    love you too
    j

  2. kristen

    i feel like i’m still on the embers…your story gives heart to the matter for me, knowing that the work really does pay off, even if while you’re doing it, you wish you weren’t.

  3. Tammy

    Hmm…still in the fire. But I always used to say, “Nobody ever says, ‘I went on a cruise and it changed my life.’ ” Guess I need to revisit that saying.
    Looks like it was a beautiful time. Love following your blog.
    Tammy

  4. Laura

    Andrea, that sounds amazing. Doing deep soul work is so very challenging, but then I remember reading that courage is a muscle, and that it gets stronger with regular use 🙂
    I sympathise with what you mean about going through the fire. I’ve had a good year, but I know there are tough times coming up and I’ve certainly cycled through hell in the past. But coming out the other side is awe inspiring. A year ago in Cambodia I stood at the steps of a towering stone temple- I took in it’s looming shape in the pre-dawn light and at the time there were no words. It was humbling, immense and exciting all at once; and the power and energy of this place was almost a touch frightening. I think of observing yourself after a period of deep, hard soul work in a similar way.
    So very glad you emerged with a restful heart and more confident spirit 🙂 I have never encountered any great strength than the strength of spirit that you create when you go through the ‘blood, sweat and tears’ of soul work. I really enjoyed reading what you have written; I’m going to draw on it for support in the months to come.

  5. Marianne

    I always found you beautiful, even in the rawness when I saw more of myself in you and in the tenderness I felt towards that part of you found more tenderness towards that part of me. Now I celebrate with you the soul work you have done, the fire you have walked through, the beauty and peace that comes from that courage – as I do my own.

  6. Tinniegirl

    I am so grateful to read your words and story. Even though I feel like I’m fully aflame at the moment your story reminds me of other times I’ve come through the fire – stronger, more confident and rested.

  7. Erin Wilson

    Just wanted to add my little reminder here too, for some day when the fire roars too loud for you to remember… there are people all around the world who know that you shimmer. It’s an amazing kind of beauty you’ve got there, girl.
    Peace

  8. Erin Wilson

    Just wanted to add my little reminder here too, for some day when the fire roars too loud for you to remember… there are people all around the world who know that you shimmer. It’s an amazing kind of beauty you’ve got there, girl.
    Peace

  9. jenn

    Oh andrea….I can’t tell you how much I relate to this post, how it is exactly where I am at in me life. As you know my Mom passed away only two months ago. This past year I moved across country back to AZ to be here with her. I went from leaving a family I had just gotten to know, to a place I was FINALLY calling home to come back to AZ to be here with her. It was a year of sickness, hospitals and then worst of all losing her. The crazy, but great, thing about this year is I feel more myself than I ever have in my life. I’ve gotten such great blessing this year. I came back to see that my Mom and I were actually really great friends and I really really needed to know that before she died. I have also found out how lucky I am to have such wonderful people in my life. I feel lucky all the time. I know that this wouldn’t have happened if I had not moved. I feel like I am doing (because I’ve been forced) the hardest work of my life,and yet I get great rewards in such small but wonderful ways. Thank you for sharing your post, it really hit home and made me think life is so hard but I really am lucky.
    Jenn

  10. jan avellana

    hi andrea,
    i think when it comes vocation and finding and doing meaningful work, all my adult life feels as if it has been one big fire! and i find that i am still in the process of becoming. i ‘should’ be at a point where i am happy and continuing to build my etsy shop (jewelry), but instead, i feel that i’ve outgrown this gig and am painfully reaching for scarier and frightening heights…painting of all things! i wonder, does it ever really end?!
    thank you for sharing your journey, even the dark parts…it helps shed light for others as we do our best to trailblaze our own paths…
    love,
    jan
    ps–i just finished the first mondo beyondo course! it was wonderful :)…

  11. aviannamar

    digital last surface required majority glacial

  12. Michelle Shopped

    bravo, girl! here’s to the fire…and what’s gone through my head (unbidden) since starting mb is: “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

  13. Samantha Rae

    Walking through fire is exactly the picture-inducing terminology I would have used. Before my beautiful son was born, we suffered through three miscarriages in a short period of time, one of which put me in the hospital when I got an infection after the D&C. During this horrible time period, I felt like there was nothing left to live for, and it was really only the thought of leaving my wonderful husband alone that was keeping me tied to earth. Eventually, Providence blessed me with a perfectly healthy, and perfectly unexpected pregnancy, which resulted in my son Ben. Though I cannot say that I am now thankful for the miscarriages, I could never be, what I AM thankful for is the strength and love which carried me through to the other side. I feel like I am able to appreciate this little person in my life so much more for the hardships along the way. It was certainly walking through fire, and coming out on the other side changed into something different, someone stronger. Thank you for sharing your stories, as always. Your strength is appreciated and loved!

  14. Katie @ cakes, tea and dreams

    I’m so glad this retreat was great for you…it sounds amazing. I do remember going through the fire, during a year when two people I loved died in car crashes. It was the worst. And yet – there were people all around me, holding me up, pulling me through – and the gifts on the other side were joy, compassion, a greater ability to sit with mystery and questions. And even – though I never would have believed it at the time – deeper faith.

  15. Puanani

    I have been walking through a deep blaze the last two years. The pain, the grief and the overcoming, have all been gifts. Beautiful, life altering gifts. I feel more myself these days, a raw version of me that is not intent on pleasing everyone else, but is willing to be content to just be. I am enough.

  16. stef

    here’s to going through the fire and coming out on the other side and seeing a rainbow of hope!
    much love to you
    xoxo

  17. Melly

    Thanks so much for this post Andrea.
    The fire has been burning fiercely for me throughout this year – it has been relentless – and yet I can already see some colours I never expected to see. I think the north point on my own internal compass has shifted, showing me the way to a new land where I seem to be able to see the good and the beautiful in so many things that I had previously discounted. And I’ve stopped trying to fight how the heat of the fire might reshape me and just go with it.
    Here’s to all the other Firebirds to whom this post sings.

  18. Melly

    Thanks so much for this post Andrea.
    The fire has been burning fiercely for me throughout this year – it has been relentless – and yet I can already see some colours I never expected to see. I think the north point on my own internal compass has shifted, showing me the way to a new land where I seem to be able to see the good and the beautiful in so many things that I had previously discounted. And I’ve stopped trying to fight how the heat of the fire might reshape me and just go with it.
    Here’s to all the other Firebirds to whom this post sings.

  19. Di

    Wow! Reading your metamorphosis described as “going through the fire” really hit home. I have been struggling, as I call it, with my life, purpose and place for 2 1/2 years. In this time I lost my mother (with whom I was very close) to a 7 yr battle with breast cancer; my best friend and female soul-mate to a trans-continental move; and lastly my 17 year marriage to infidelity. Starting over after giving myself up to my husband and kids leaves me lost and afraid at the age of 41. I think the fear of the “fire” is my excuse not to become the true me…the real and best me.
    I am new to your writings and hope to learn and grow from your words.

  20. Jennifer Lee

    what a lovely story of transformation, andrea. thanks for sharing your vulnerabilities and your courage! i appreciated your description of a piece of pottery going through the fire and coming out beautiful on the other side. i certainly relate to that. several years ago i went on retreat 5 (the follow-up to CTI’s leadership program) and had a horrible experience that took me about a year to fully recover from. and it was in co-leading a retreat that i realized that i had grown and moved on from where i thought i was when i left crushed from retreat 5. then, a couple of months ago, i had another opportunity to transform retreat 5 in a new even more powerful way. i am taking an expressive arts teacher training and our retreats are taking place at the same exact place i took retreat 5. once i got over the initial, “oh shit, i’ve been here before and i didn’t like it!!” i looked at it as an opportunity. it was so amazing to be back in the same physical space but to be in such a different emotional, spiritual and mental space. it was a great touchstone for me to see how far i’ve come. thanks again for sharing your story and for offering a wonderful metaphor to honor the experience.

  21. jackie

    Oh Andrea! I have been feeling like I am going through the fire this past year…and I have found so many gifts in myself. it is always comforting to visit your blog…because you inspire us to be better! thank you!

  22. Belinda

    I went through a massive conflagration in my life a few years ago, and for a long long time could not see an escape route. I was stuck in many ways – miserable and without any magic or hope at all.
    As time has passed, I have learned that I still have hope of something better, that everything I imagine and wish for is achievable and things can get better. I just need to be brave – and that is my gift to myself. 🙂

  23. Deanna

    I feel as though I am there right now Andrea and I owe this transformation and journey through the fire to MB.
    I have no idea where I am going to end up or what I will look like afterward but I am so looking forward to seeing me there.
    I am writing about it and really look forward to one day seeing your smiling face in Toronto!

  24. Leslie

    oh what stories that apron could tell

  25. Stephanie

    Hi Andrea,
    Wow. I havent seen you in awhile. I still very much enjoy reading your blog and seeing how Ben gets cuter by the minute (!) This post really resonated for me because I am in the midst of the fire right now. My mom is terminally ill and living out here now. Plus I am simultaneously helping Henry fill out college applications. Eek! Long story, but I think some good creative and healing stuff might come out of all this – eventually. Thanks for helping me to see that with just this post.
    Hope to see you at the trunk show in Novemeber.It has been much too long!
    Love,
    xxoo
    Stephanie

  26. Laura Neff - Life Leadership Coach

    YEAH BABY! I’m *sosososo* glad to read your post and hear how peaceful, strong and happy you sound on this side of Squam. It sounds like new memories were forged, and so much growth has happened. Wooohooooo! (And, btw, sosososo not surprised…) 😉
    And ah, going through the fire…doing some of that here on this side myself with nearing the fiery end of a 6.5 year fertility journey. Still up in the air which way it’ll go, but we’ll know soon, and there’s reckoning waiting either way. Rallying all the internal troops for this one. Thanks for standing so strong on the other side of that fire, Andrea, reminding all of us that it IS possible to survive the going through and that good things wait there for our courageous hearts.
    xoxo!

  27. Kat

    Your Oregon coast photo is absolutely breathtaking. I grew up in northern California, and am so intimately familiar with the stretch of coast up into Washington. I live in Toronto, Ontario now- which I do love, but wow does this ever make me home sick. Thank you so much for sharing, you have brought a bittersweet tear to my eye!

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