The story I shared with you about my return to writing in a paper journal was only one story of bonfires. You see, I’ve built more than one of those blazes in my lifetime and I’m sure there are more to come.
Building a bonfire to destroy old truths and outdated beliefs is worth it, but I want you to know something I didn’t understand the first time.
It’s the fact that life can never go back to being “the same” after the fire is out.
You see, a part of YOU burns up in the flames along with all those logs and kindling you piled upon the pyre.
A new you emerges once the ashes have cooled. This NEW version of you is stronger, more centered, and more powerful.
It’s also incredibly tender, too.
In the aftermath of the fire, you may need to take self-care to the extreme. This new you is like a wiser soul fit into a toddler’s body. Your first steps into this new life will be like those wobbling shaky baby steps you took so long ago.
You step forward with delightful gusto, yet these new ways are shaky enough they can also feel a little out of control.
But that’s how it should be. You have to give yourself an opportunity to settle into – and get to know – this new you. You’re going to feel the same…but you’re also going to feel different.
To help ease your recovery, here are ten ten tips to assist you in the aftermath of the fire:
One – People will want you to go back to the “old you”.
Though it shocked the hell out of me, I discovered that the people who claimed to love me didn’t seem to like the new me. I was happier, stronger and braver, yet they wanted the ME they had always known. They may try to shame you into “not putting on airs,” or entice you back into old habits.
Understand that this isn’t about YOU, it’s about them. Each one of us has our own fires that may need igniting, yet seeing your post-fire just reminds them of their own fears that get in the way of moving forward in their own life.
The problem? The old you no longer exists. Sure, you could go back to old habits, or put on masks and pretend to be who you aren’t, but you cannot go back to exactly who you were.
Preparing for people not to like the new you doesn’t mean you have to like it or accept it, but knowing about it is like tossing an umbrella in your car when there’s a chance of rain.
Two – Folks will get off your elevator.
I have this theory that when it comes to friendships, our life is like an elevator. As you go up and down the elevator, some people will get on and some will get off. Sometimes, our elevator is like a sardine can of people. And there are those times when it feels like our elevator is EMPTY.
This new you may not fit into old friendships. And yes, that is sad. And yes, you may need to grieve those losses. But your elevator will continue to go UP and go DOWN and each time the door opens, there’s a chance that new folks will get on.
Three – You may need to close your circle.
Even if no one gets off the elevator, you may need to withdraw from your big circle of friends and only allow in a few. Surround yourself with a tight, loving, supportive inner circle of people who have your back.
Energy is contagious and exposing yourself to all the naysayers in your life can hurt you during this tender stage.
Four – Have more sex.
Sex forces you out of your head and into your body. Despite all the emotions burning up in the fire, it’s easy to think and over-think everything you released along with all the things you worry about for the new you.
Intimate connection with our partner grounds us in a way that other activities just don’t. Besides feeling good, sex releases all kinds of feel-good endorphin’s that boost your confidence.
I always say that while sex may not solve every problem, it’s a good answer to many of the questions that surface. So, get naked and sweaty. Give yourself permission to let your inhibitions go, be a little naughty and a lot tender.
(And yes, masturbation counts. It helps connect you to yourself, gives you those feel-good endorphin’s, and more)
Five – You may need some help.
Help may be a four letter word, but it isn’t dirty. While building that fire, you may have done it all on our own. But in the weeks after, you may find you need additional support. Hire a coach or find a therapist.
Our friends and our partners are great sources of support, too. So, maybe it’s time for an all-girls weekend or a fun getaway. Other kinds of help: hiring someone to clean your house or mow your lawn. Picking up meals from the deli. Creating a prayer or meditation practice.
Getting help allows you to heal more quickly.
Six – Get rid of the clutter.
Physical clutter distracts you. It pulls your attention away from what’s important and begs you to go through piles and sift through clothes. Straighten your closet and ditch what no longer fits the new you. Clear off your desk and make space for the new you to show up more fully. Clutter can pull us down like quicksand into old habits.
Seven – Cultivate supportive routines.
This tender stage of your life post-fire needs daily structure and support. Routines allow you to harness your energy more effectively.
How you begin the day sets up the tone for you day, so choose deliberate actions over a flurry of rushing around. Make your bed, unload the dishwasher, and tidy up a bit. Eat a nice breakfast and linger over that blessed first cup of coffee. Solid morning routines allow you to ease into your day with less stress.
A bedtime routine serves two purposes: to close out your day as well as stage the coming day. Lay out anything you need for the next morning to make getting out the door faster. Tend your personal needs. Have a little quiet time. A fabulous bedtime routine helps you fall asleep with a peaceful heart and sets you up for success in the morning. – and sets you up for beginning the next day with slow,
Eight – You need to get more sleep.
Being reborn is exhausting. Exhilarating, but exhausting. Your mind and your soul have expended a shit-ton of energy during the fire stage and in the initial interim afterwards, it needs more rest to recoup.
Our bodies need periods of rest that are long enough to synthesize our hormones, grow muscle, and repair our damaged tissues. Sleep is also critical for our minds (and therefore, our souls), too. Sleep helps us solidify and consolidate our memories.
When you are well rested, your skin looks healthier, your body feels more alive, and you’re less likely to overeat. Sleep helps you be more productive, think more clearly, be more creative, and better manage your emotions.
Nine – Spend some time in nature.
The great outdoors is great for a lot of reasons when it comes to nurturing the new you. Research has shown that being outside made people feel more energetic. Also, doctors found that just viewing nature helped patients recover faster from surgery.
Post-fire recovery benefits from time spent outside. So, get some fresh air, and be a part of nature. Grab an umbrella and walk in the rain. Ride your bike or go for a walk. Feel the wind in your face. Let the light of the sun (or the moon) shine upon you.
Ten – Above all have patience with yourself.
Sometimes, the new us is so exciting, we can’t quite receive all its beauty yet. We wait for the other shoe to drop or hold off from fully occupying the new us. Remind yourself that you deserve to be in love with your life. Remind yourself that you are worthy of love and affection. Remind yourself that it’s ok to be happy.