My House Burned To the Ground 4 Years Ago: 3 Tips To Get Through Tough Times.

Our Enchanted Cottage on our Wedding Day:
Picture 66

Our Cottage 4 years ago today:
Picture 67

My soul felt like the above picture for months.
I was just as destroyed on the inside
as my home was.

Here are 3 things which had to happen for us to make it through.
And they might help you when you’re going through hard times:

1.  A Clean Slate.

In any situation, a break-up, the loss of a job or friendship, and especially in the loss of our home – it’s hard to move on while staring at the remains of what used to be.

You can’t move forward if you’re only looking behind you.

When something bad has happened, allow yourself to mourn for a little while, but give yourself a deadline day to make a clean slate and to start over again.


Real Life Story

For two months after the fire, our house was a pile of black ash with one mint green wall standing.

Every day, I would drive there and sit in the burned frame of my bed and look out of the window that remained….looking out that same window I had looked out of for years of my life.
Then it was the same thing, over and over, I would dig and dig in the rubble trying to find anything.
I was half crazy.

Picture 68

The last photo of me in my home.  It was leveled to the ground 12 hours later by a bulldozer.

The day the bulldozer came to level what remained,
I felt like I was going to die.
My life was 7 dumpsters of wreckage
to be carted away.
Ashes of childhood stuffed animals,
my Grandma’s jewelry and magic things,
years of personal journals and books.

But the next day I came back.
The ash and charred rubble was gone.
There was new earth, an open field, a clean slate.
I could finally see more than burned remains,
I could see more than what was,
I could see the potential for what could be,
and I felt like there was a glimmer of hope on that land for the first time since the fire.

There is no place for a bright future when you are standing knee deep in the ashes of your past.

2.  Get Active In Your Future.

Focus on new and good things. Rather than waiting, make your future.
Take action.
What do you want to do now?
Who do you want to be?
See a bright future and head towards it – one step at a time.


Real Life Story

Burke dealt with the loss of the house by buying a can of PlayDoh and sculpting his ideas for what the new home could be. He was just as destroyed as I was over the fire. He was afraid if he sunk too deep in the darkness and ashes, he wouldn’t be able to climb out, like quicksand. He knew he had to keep moving.

As he formed a new home in PlayDoh, it occupied his mind, charged his creativity and kept him afloat.
Burke’s PlayDoh House that he molded right after the fire:

Burke's playdoh house.

The Finished House:
Picture 70

3. Get Out There in the World.

Immerse yourself in the world, find positive people, and interact.
Don’t isolate yourself.
Don’t just invite a friend over to mourn what has passed.
Force yourself to hang out with people – go dancing, go to a party, go OUT, take class, volunteer – even when you don’t feel like it. Chances are, once you get there, you’ll be grateful you did. Being around others, listening to others, sharing common interests, and discovering new things will help get your mind off past sadness.

Real Life Story

A handful of days after our house burned to the ground there was a big celebration for dear friends of ours. We didn’t want to let them down by not showing up, and at the same time, we didn’t want to bring the party down by being there. It wasn’t easy, but we went. The first few minutes were the hardest – I wanted to run away. But after a moment, seeing good friends and being surrounded by a positive social environment helped me so much. The day was a positive distraction from my sadness and the good effects of the day were lasting.

Here’s a picture of us at that event – sticking together and finding hope in each other and our friends.
Picture 71

I will never forget how much you all of you on this online community did for us. Your support, letters and love kept us going more than you’ll ever know.

If you’re going through a hard time out there – remember you’re not alone and there is hope.
Don’t give up.
Better days will be headed your way.
Trust me on this one.
I’ve been down many a crooked road and I know this to be true.

Today at 5:45pm, Burke and I will be holding hands on the rock in our backyard, just like we do every year to send good thoughts back to our old selves in 2011 who were dealing with a really hard time.

Here’s the post where I talk about the special ritual we do every year since the fire.
I put my heart into writing it and I know it can help you, too.

Sending out my love to all of you –
and if you know someone that might need this today,
please share.

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