January 1, 2015, around 3am, I awoke mid-dream to the realization of an idea forming. In the safe, dark confines of night, I hatched a righteous plan. I would step out of the writer’s closet in which I had been cowering, publicly declare myself a novelist, and commit to publishing segments of my novel, which I entitled Life By Fire, online daily as I wrote it. For the first time in my life, I took action without hesitation. I arose that morning and created the website. I wrote and posted my first entries. I perfected it all, sent out a launch announcement via Facebook and awaited the applause, while basking in a sense of accomplishment.
Then what happened? It got harder. And I got scared. I questioned the concept and the process. I failed to post a segment daily. Then, I failed to post a segment weekly. I felt resistance. I encountered roadblocks. I questioned the integrity of the story and my right to write it. I lost momentum and withdrew back into my closet to persevere alone.
The novel Life By Fire begins:
“Death by fire. I dream of dying in a burst of flames. Searing heat traveling from my feet, up my legs, swirling around me. I throw my head back to see a black sky scattered with stars, extinguished by a cloud of white smoke…. Hot, dry, release. My soul purified by fire—a quick, dramatic death, nothing left but ash. The antithesis of my life. By day, I barely tread water, barely keep afloat. Perpetually behind, perpetually overwhelmed, stuck in a whirlpool going round, round, and around. Life by drowning.”
Today, I no longer live a “life by drowning”—continuing to write equipped me with a very vital lifeboat. Since my rather dismal start with the novel, Life By Fire, I have completed a middle-grade novel called Genevieve’s Worlds and written and published a short story called Anni Annihilation. In 2017, I was awarded 1st prize in the Adult Division in the 2016 Dorothy Shoemaker Literary Awards Contest for excerpts from the Life By Fire novel. Slowly but surely I’ve made progress—my spirit animal is a turtle.
Throughout the process, I continued to feel a keen desire to communicate, not only about the process of writing, but about the process of self-discovery and living on purpose. The Life By Fire Book website evolved into the LifeByFire.com blog. In 2017, I also felt inspired to create and teach two courses, Ignite Your Creativity and the Seven Universal Laws; content creation for these courses flowed effortlessly though I found marketing them to the right audience much more difficult.
The course content inspired me to begin a non-fiction book called The Thrive Guide for the Hungry Spirit. I began the guide with:
I’m a lucky person. I live in the top 10% of the global population. I live in a safe, prosperous country and community. I’ve been blessed with excellent physical health, intellect, and opportunity. I have two university degrees. I own a car and share a home with my kind, caring husband and two beautiful, vibrantly healthy, intelligent children. I have never sustained a serious accident, injury, or illness. By all accounts, I have and continue to live a blessed, easy life. And yet…
I have struggled most of my life. I have felt fearful, limited, and downright stuck for most of my fifty years. From my perspective, every one of my small successes has followed an internal battle. And my big successes? I can’t name any.
But, I embarked on a mission to figure out why I felt that way and how to change it. And now, I am determined to truly learn, internalize, and practice my insights through sharing them with you and everyone else who desires them. I want us to feel happy. I want us to experience life as fun. I want us to enjoy success and prosperity as free-flowing, easy, and natural.
Together, I want us to awaken to our own power, envision our dreams, and realize them confidently. And I want you to do it now while you’re young and vital, and have all the time in the world—not after you turn 50, like me, and feel time slipping away faster each day.
So, here is our guide. Not just a survival guide—a Thrive Guide for living our happiest life—on purpose and to the fullest. I invite you to join me on this great adventure of discovery.
What authority have I to write such a guide? A PhD from a prestigious university? A channel to enlightened spiritual beings from beyond? A personal relationship with Oprah? No. I have the authority to write this guide because I wrote it.
And yet…and yet, as I wrote those words, I felt a tightness in the pit of my stomach. I didn’t believe it myself. Does someone who has lived such an easy life, one so free from trauma or hardship, really have the right to attempt to ‘guide’ others who have quite possibly endured significant turmoil, trauma, and tragedy? No. Like the Life By Fire novel, the non-fiction book stalled.
Strangely enough, on June 8, 2016, our family had endured significant trauma when my husband sustained a serious concussion while mountain biking. At the time, we continued in survival mode, assuming that his recovery would be fast and full. It was not. Over 5 years later, notwithstanding the advice from numerous allopathic and alternative doctors, he continues to suffer ceaselessly from post-concussion symptoms. They have continued to prevent him from enjoying many activities that were a significant part of his life and his family has felt the effects of those limitations along with him. Whether we realised it at the time or not, it has shaped us.
And then, in May 2019, as my eldest daughter’s grade 8 graduation approached, everything fell apart. A call brought us into her school for an emergency meeting in which we were told that she had confided to a teacher that she was having suicidal thoughts. How could we have been so oblivious? All focus turned to organizing an endless stream of resources—doctors, social workers, psychologists—to attempt to identify the source of her depression and anxiety, which appeared to have come out of nowhere (but actually hadn’t). A very difficult year of ‘coping mechanisms’ followed as we attempted to support our eldest to explore their gender identity, sexual orientation, and the source of their deep sadness. In that time, their pronouns changed from she/her to they/them and they chose a new first name. Our Fynn found themselves and we thought we had stumbled our way back to comfort and ‘normalcy.’
Forward to April 2020 and the infamous beginning of the coronavirus, when Fynn matter-of-factly informed me that a close family member who also lived close-by had sexually molested them for a number of years and that sexual abuse had morphed into emotional abuse. I felt the walls of emotional security collapse around me. Then, when we confronted the family member, we experienced the shock and horror of gaslighting to a degree we had never imagined possible—not only from the abuser but also from other close family members. And that’s when I felt the emotional foundation of my life completely collapse in on me.
Like Gandalf battling the balrog on the bridge of Khazad-Dûm, I stood between my abusive family members and my children, and decreed, “you shall not pass,” with an intensity I had never experienced before. I felt the iron chains of lifetimes of negative family karma severing forever. Then, as the rest of the world was forced into another lockdown, I gratefully contracted inward, retreating from everyone and everything—happily dropping so many commitments that now felt meaningless. I needed solitude.
Adventure books and movies tend not to focus on the devastating destruction faced in the aftermath of the epic battle, all of which takes significantly longer to clean up and rebuild. But, like most people do, my family has steadfastly worked to dig ourselves out from under the emotional rubble, clear it away, and slowly but surely rebuild on a stronger foundation—our own solid-granite foundation—freed from the shackles of unhealthy, dysfunctional relationships and codependencies.
The process has led me to dig deeply into my own repressed trauma, bring it to the surface, and endeavour to release it once and for all. It continues to rise to the surface of my awareness in waves, over and over, to be felt and dissolved. Again and again, I am reborn. And, the Life By Fire blog has also been reborn as Thrivival.
After a lifetime of intensely disliking my given name, it has even led me to choose to write under a different one—yet another departure from expectation. I no longer identify with the person I was five years ago. I have embarked on a new path as a new me. This is true freedom. And it has been hard-won. This is my epic journey to finding Thrivival—a metaphysical place of my own imagining where comfort and freedom reside—my own safe place to land. I humbly invite you to cross through the mist, over the narrow bridge, and enter through the gate to sit with me at the centre, in the warmth of a communal fire, in the realm of Thrivival. Freedom lives here.
Please join me here and now,