One woman’s quest to make sense of a nonsensical world after losing her dream home and all her worldly possessions to a raging and sudden wildfire. Exploring the existence of God, our cultural discomfort with grief, what it means to be human as well as life in a 1967 Airstream trailer, Kristen Moeller shares her humanity, her spirit and her dark edge openly for herself as well as for the countless others who beg to be heard in their wild journey through this wacky world.
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Blogging through Fire

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Day 4 no Mac. Adjustments. Thinking I would waltz into Apple on Monday on my way to the airport and drop off my Mac and purchase the Mac air that I have coveted, instead I was thwarted when the girl with the clip board said, “no appointment, no service”. After a day of record breaking heat in Colorado – and in Flame – and attempting to pack for a trip where the packing instructions were “dress up, dress to shine” all the while wondering why the hell I was leaving, this was a show stopping moment. I crumbled. I couldn’t even bring myself to beg for mercy. I simply turned on a dime and slouched out of the store. David and I had a whamdinger of a fight the evening before on our way back from our lovely reprieve of camping in southern Colorado. Who knows what starts these things. Two tired and stubborn individuals both anticipating traveling the next day, add in a normal case of Sunday blues but ‘on crack’ in our case. He said something, I said something, we began to do the familiar dance. He was sure he was right – and I was convinced I was. Unfortunately neither of us had the perspective to pull out of our nose dive and instead steamed for the rest of the ride home. My steam turned quickly to spiral. A house doesn’t make a marriage but it creates a sanctuary where marriage resides. You already know that our house was a sanctuary to us. Without it, we feel a bit unplugged to say the least. In this particular moment, I felt a cavernous hole where once was our life. Without the house as glue, would we stick? Could we stick?

In these moments it is crystal clear why many couples blow apart in times of crisis. One thing quickly leads to the next and before you know it you are saying damaging things like “it’s over” and you actually really believe that. Those words didn’t leave our lips but they swirled in our heads. And, yes, all of this kicked up my abandonment issues. It times of great distress with another human being, the first place I go is “you will leave me.” Yes, I know the roots. Dad “leaving” when I was 7. And, yes, there were all sorts of extenuating circumstances in his decision but try telling that to a 7 year old – and try telling that to a triggered 46 year old… Fortunately I do know better than to inquire in those heated moments, “so, you gonna leave me?” Certainly a heat of the moment answer would bring any comfort to my angsty soul. I practice the spiritual principle of “shut up” and I at least don’t say that. I am not claiming I don’t say anything to make matters worse, I just don’t say that. We both continued our dance of making matters worse until something began to lift as we drove up our road. I felt a laugh of the ridiculousness of it all wanting to emerge. When the laugh began to reach my lips, I couldn’t quite stick with it. I pondered how to begin the conversation. I wish I had been “well” enough to simply allow the laugh. Instead, it was an attempt at something but still weighted down with our yuck. It didn’t go horribly when I began to talk as clearly David was ready for something else too. And, he was attempting to bring our trailer safely to its resting place while navigating the last 1/2 mile of our treacherous road.

To his great credit, he both paid attention to me and brought us to safe harbor. Then we hugged and cried our frustration – and because we have a great big tool bag we didn’t have to rehash ad nauseam. We were exhausted though. Dirty, tired, hungry, sweaty and anticipating the monumental task of getting Flame plugged back in and settled as well as readying ourselves for our next day travel. Moving like zombies we somehow put one foot in front of the other with love and kindness. Awaking exhausted and wondering what the hell I was doing – why was I traveling, why was I leaving my dogs, why was I attending a business seminar, why was I attempting to dress for success from my fire-ravaged wardrobe – I limped through the day.

Oh, and did I mention that I messed up the time for a live interview? For months I had 1pm MT in my calendar… I actually planned my entire departure around this important event where the lovely Michele Casto would be interviewing me as part the Abundant Change agent series of (http://abundantchangeagent.com). I was to talk about my experience hosting my radio show – and how this contributed my greater mission in life. At 11ish, I headed to the gate to pick up the trash cans. Seeing a neighbor along the way, I stopped to chat. As I passed through the gate where the cell signal picks up for a moment, my phone bleeped. Hmmmm, I thought. Glancing down, I saw a text from Michele. Glancing at the clock, my brain suddenly began to fret. 1pm Mountain… was it 1pm Mountain? Or, was it, oh no, say it’s not so…. Please… 1pm Eastern. I called her. They had been live on air with participants, waiting for me to show up. It was 1pm Eastern! Oh my god I messed this up. Big fricken’ time. Seeing the spiral approaching, I apologized as best I could all the while being stuck in the 10 feet of cell reception where I was.

Michele, a generous soul and consummate professional, offered to do the call anyway and put it up on the line up as a recording. I gratefully agreed and begged for 7 minutes to get back to Flame and to clearer signal. Those 7 minutes were long ones as I admonished myself all the way back. How could I have made this mistake??? It had been in my calendar for months… How could I have missed it? What a fricken’ loser I was! All I have post fire is me – my reputation, my word, my relationships. Here I was doing serious harm to all of the above. Could I rally in time? Could I pull out of this nosedive? How could I have let all these people down? All of Michele’s hard work, the other faculty members, the patient audience coming to learn more about their own self-expression. Arrrrgggghhhhhh went the not so silent scream in my head as I drove the 7 minutes back to redemption – or possibly annihilation. It was up for grabs in those bumpy moments. And, when people are generous and others are responsible, miracles can happen. Michele accepted my amends, she was ready to roll, I rallied – and we used this example as a teaching point. We brought authenticity to the interview that would have been there before but now was so glaring you couldn’t miss it. These things happen. We don’t want them to happen to us, or be the ones who make it happen. And, they happen.

Since we were discussing radio, it was the perfect segue to talking about how to roll with the punches as you are live on air. The interview was beautiful – and Michele was lovely and I showed up. I mean that in a deep way. The me that I know I am emerged from the funk and fog of wanting to fold and quit. I watched it happen, I felt the scales scrape off as I dragged myself from my earthen cave to face the sun. And here’s the thing – and more of what I want to say to all the High Park fire people as well as anyone going through trauma. We will have these moments of severe darkness, then we will see the light. And, just because we see the light, doesn’t mean we stay there. It would be so lovely to say that the rest of the day was smooth sailing. It wasn’t. I have already told you about my death row march into Apple and my subsequent retreat back to the pit of despair. It’s not smooth sailing just because we have a patch of calm. If you are going through any type of trauma, please don’t expect that of yourself. I beg that of you, as I learn to give permission to myself. There will be a ride, you might as well ride it. And, I promise you, we fire walkers get it. You are not alone.

Sitting in my cushy hotel room in Marina del Ray where I attend what is turning out to me a fabulous business seminar, I write what is there to write. After forgetting my bluetooth keyboard which is the ONLY way I can write on my iPad, attempting to use the hotels computer to no avail, I cabbed it to the nearest Apple store and bought another keyboard. Now a few hours into the day, I re-read what I wrote and am in such a different space and place than when I began clicking away this morning. This is what I needed to say then. Tomorrow (or later today) I will say something else. When walking through fire, we will be in many places and spaces. As old stuff burns away, we will be raw and unformed. As challenges arrive and assault our brand new skin, we may wince and flinch and retreat to darkness. As we continue walking, bright moments will appear and we will like who we are becoming. Then a cloud will roll through and we will be back at the beginning – for a moment or more. Then, the world will turn on its axis again, and we will smile for no reason. As I walk through my fire, I am settling in to this new version of me. I surprise myself in moments and am discouragingly predictable in others. Yet, there is something new taking shape. The woman I have always wanted to be is showing up. I bleed when I need to, I wail when I want to, I retreat when I have to, and I shine more brightly then I have ever let myself shine before. I will walk with you. Will you walk with me?

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4 Responses

  1. And how long did you stand in the full stream of hot water in your cushy hotel room shower?
    I wish for you extensive, soul-cleansing wetness!!!
    Sometimes it’s the small things that count.

  2. Ellen Moore says:

    Another post that’s so full of brilliance it’s SIIIIICK!

    I am looking forward to many, many people reading the first half and applying it to their own relationships, and then (just for fun) even more people reading the second half and deciding to forgive themselves for a Career/Identity moment they allegedly screwed up.

    As of right now, I totally forgive myself for getting so hammered the night before I met Oprah Winfrey. Also for forgetting to check if the hotel had a copier. Also for forgetting to check if I had money for the cab. These events happened many years ago but I’m still lugging them around!

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