Like a Phoenix Rising from the Ashes


“Suffering and joy teach us, if we allow them, how to make the leap of empathy, which transports us into the soul and heart of another person. In those transparent moments we know other people’s joys and sorrows, and we care about their concerns as if they were our own.”
~Fritz Williams

“Phoenix rising from the ashes.” This phrase popped into my head recently, and I wasn’t sure why until I did the research. As the story goes, the phoenix is a mythical bird with fiery plumage that lives up to 100 years. Near the end of its life, it settles in to its nest of twigs which then burns ferociously, reducing bird and nest to ashes. And from those ashes, a fledgling phoenix rises – renewed and reborn.

And now I get it. This is the story of my life in the past few months – especially the part about burning ferociously. Life presented me with some challenging circumstances that left me just hanging on. And now, sanity has returned.  I look out with fresh eyes. The fog has lifted, and the dark clouds have moved on.

My experience is not unique – it happens to all of us at some point, it’s a part of the human journey. But this was my time, and I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned along the way.

Resistance is natural

When life threw me a curve, I longed for the turmoil to be over with. I wanted to pick myself up and move on. I tried hard to create a plan, to know what I didn’t know, to gain control. I was so busy trying to make things happen that I overlooked what was actually happening.

I ignored my feelings and resisted the present moment. Yes, me, the one who writes about welcoming all of our experience with a loving, open heart. I was doing everything but.

Finally, I realized my approach wasn’t working. I stopped trying. I let myself be frustrated and impatient. I admitted that there was so much I didn’t know, and I let go of figuring it all out. Life was messy, so I suspended my fruitless attempts to clean it up.

And this was the beginning of the fire, as there was space for feelings and reactions to surface.

Things happen in their own time

When I look back I see that I had very little control over what happened. The seasons of my experience had to run their course – severe winter storms, cold and darkness, then the seeds hidden from view beginning to sprout (very exciting!). The best I could do was ride the waves, which I did with varying degrees of success.

Forgetting and remembering joy

When darkness descends, joy is blotted out, buried, seemingly non-existent. Everything weighed like a heavy burden, all my activities felt like obligations. When I realized that I had forgotten joy, I created a “want-to-do” list. Every time I found myself wandering around in a fog, my job was to pull out the list and do something enjoyable or productive. I organized closets and took walks, finally starting to see the beauty around me.

And I focused on others – being a good friend, showing up for someone in need.

My self-care didn’t suffer. My diet stayed healthy, and I kept up with yoga. But some people going through hard times can benefit from paying special attention to the basics of daily living – good diet, exercise, limited alcohol.

Staying close to the bone

Things started to shift when I made the commitment to find direction in my moment-to moment experience. The big picture was way too nebulous, but I realized that in each moment there was a kernel of truth, a clarity, a “yes” that showed me my next step.

I recognized that this guidance had been there all along, but I was too caught up in trying to find solutions to see it. When I let go of paying so much attention to the stories running through my mind, of trying to control, of avoiding strong feelings, much to my surprise, I found the groundedness I was looking for – the truth in every moment.

Support was essential

At the beginning, I was going it alone, and I wouldn’t recommend it. Eventually, I reached out, allowing the vulnerability of asking for support. It came in so many beautiful, unexpected ways, but I had to let people know I needed it. And a few sessions with a therapist offered some very useful insights.

The clouds do part

“This too shall pass” were empty words to me. I looked into the future, and all I could see was confusion. My negative mind had taken over, and I couldn’t see my way out.

But the clouds do part in their own time. The human spirit is resilient and wants to find its way home to wholeness. I see this over and over in my work. I facilitate a bereavement group at a retirement community for people who have lost their spouses after sometimes 50+ years of marriage. You can just tell when someone walks through the door that they will announce they no longer need the group. They are renewed; they have gone into the darkness and found their way through.

One day I realized that I was happy, and soon after, I saw that I was thriving. I had been through the fire and emerged whole and clear, with doors opening in so many wonderful ways. The sad and frustrated stories in my mind had fallen away, and the emotions that had captured me softened. I can breathe freely again.

Eventually opening to the lessons

When people said I would look back and appreciate this time, all I could do was groan. When I was in the thick of it, it seemed like it would never end. And now, with the sun shining and flowers blooming, I can reflect on what I have learned.

  • Let things happen.
  • Give up trying to control.
  • Don’t pretend you know what you don’t know.
  • Stay close to what you know is true in the moment.
  • Feeling bad isn’t wrong – it’s just how things are sometimes.
  • Take good care of yourself.
  • Engage with others.
  • Reach out for support.
  • When the time is right, feel the emotions.
  • Get perspective – learn what not to do next time.

So there it is – my story. And now I turn it over to you. What have you learned about going through hard times? I’d love to hear…

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  1. avatar says

    Your post has come in a timely manner and I appreciate your sharing.
    I am going through something I didn’t expect and which I had no control over. Not for the first time! I know that we can only control ourselves, but I am having a difficult time letting go and so have decided to go with the flow. Some days are better than others and although I still can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, I do know it is there.
    In the meantime, I have been productive, have seen friends, have lost a few pounds because I am eating better, I go out and I keep busy. Time on my own has given me breathing space and I can see a lesson here.
    I think I need to tap on welcoming this experience and see what happens, because right now it isn’t great.
    I hope that things are better for you now. I look forward to the day that my solar plexus doesn’t feel like a lump of stone. :)

    • avatar says

      Welcome to you, Arlene.

      It sounds like you are moving through this time in your life so beautifully – going with the flow, being productive, seeing friends, eating healthy, a balance between being busy and quiet time. And the rest will take care of itself.

      Whenever you are ready, allowing the feelings can be a relief because you don’t have to fight them any longer – including the lump of stone in your solar plexus.

      Thanks for sharing your experience. I wish you well.

    • avatar says

      I liked reading your blog very much. I am from Pune, India.
      I would like to share with you what I do whenever the `wheel goes down’.
      I keep a book by Dr.Seuss `Oh, the Places You’ll Go!’ next to my bed. The illustrations are uplifting and the simple text is an immediate pep up. Wish all of you a Merry X’mas and a happy 2013.

      • avatar says

        Hi Sujata,

        Welcome and thank you for your comment.

        Anything that brings us to realize presence is a benefit. It’s amazing to know that we really don’t have to suffer. A simple realization of what is true is all that is needed.

        Love and blessings to you…

  2. avatar says

    Thank you for this post. It gives me hope. I have been dealing with a “situation” for about ten years now. In that time, I have tried over and over again to direct the outcomes. Through these efforts, I have become jaded and exhausted. I have also developed generalized anxiety from the years of stress. I am just now coming to the realization that I have to go with the flow and that the anxiety is trying to tell me something. I am not sure yet what that is but I am finally willing to listen.

    • avatar says

      I love hearing your story, Kelly. Thanks so much for sharing it. And good for you that you are in a place where you are willing to listen. And this is not to judge not listening as bad or wrong. It’s just a different reaction. But something has cleared inside you, and you are surrendering.

      You are describing the journey. We go here and there, smooth sailing and rocky roads. I appreciate the effects of the stress, and I think you are on the right track by flowing and investigating what the anxiety might be offering you.

      I wish you well…

  3. avatar says

    Hi Gail,

    You immediately caught my attention with the “rising phoenix” metaphor. It’s one of my favorites! I even keep a beautiful picture of a phoenix on my dream board at home as a reminder of what we are capable of…of burning through even the worst of times and rising from them renewed.

    I truly appreciate your courage in sharing such a personal story of struggle. It’s easy to talk about happy times and tips for replicating them, but can be much more difficult to “open yourself to the lessons” of darker days. I truly believe that each of our experiences becomes more meaningful when we are able to share them with others. Suddenly your struggle is transformed into a greater purpose if it can be used to inspire, give hope to, or relieve the pain of others. Also, these are the types of experiences that allow us to better connect with and help others. About a year ago, I went through a difficult time myself and briefly met with a psychiatrists. I remember feeling a little weird about it at first, like only crazy people go to see psychiatrists. It felt especially ironic, since I’m studying psychology. However, something she said to me was very encouraging and actually made a lot of sense. What kind of psychologists would I be if I had never been in the trenches myself?

    As another example, which sounds silly in comparison to the emotional pain that you were experiencing, but I’m in the middle of recovering from a tonsillectomy, which is a pretty physically painful experience…described as excruciating by some. While my own experience has been far from pleasant, it’s not been nearly as bad as some of the horror stories I’ve read online. I honestly think my mindset has a lot to do with that. I was very prepared going into the surgery and followed every possible tip I could find afterwards in the hopes that I could find a “solution” to the pain everyone was experiencing. I just keep thinking…let me stay positive and do this right so I can provide useful insights to others. So far, I’ve come up with some pretty good stuff to share. :) (Sorry for the mini-derail, but I’m very excited to finally be re-imersing myself into the blogosophere after days of percocet-induced haze!)

    P.s. I received a error message letting me know that your CommentLuv version needs updated. Just thought I’d pass that along. :)

    • avatar says

      Dear Adrienne,

      Welcome to you, and thank you so much for this clear and heartfelt comment.

      It sounds like you know how to mindfully and heart-fully usher yourself through challenges, and it’s beautiful, and inspirational, to hear.

      And I appreciate your thoughts and experience about getting help. It’s one of the things I could get up on a soapbox about. People suffer alone and in silence, when just making that call or reaching out in some way can make all the difference. We resist our own feelings of vulnerability, and we have ideas about seeking help being weak or needing to go it alone. I wouldn’t have close to the clarity I have now if I hadn’t had teachers and guides along the way.

      Thank you for this beautiful sharing….

  4. avatarCindy Aguilera says

    I recently discovered this blog through the an old post “Every Moment is Fresh and New” I absolutely love this insight, but my mind is now trying to define freshness and newness and mystery and love. I`m not sure weather it wants to store them in memory to make me feel safe. Whenever I hear any of these words used in new, original ways I feel this indescribable bliss or I overflow with love, but just for a few hours, after that I go back to mind and try to revive that feeling. Sending you a warm hug.

    • avatar says

      A super warm hug right back to you, Cindy.

      Something in you is awakening, and it’s beautiful to hear. And then the mind takes over, trying to understand, interpret, and control. Ultimately, all of these words – fresh, new, mystery, love – dissolve into that to which they are all pointing. Awareness, presence beyond and before mind. Then there is simply silence – effortlessly!

  5. avatar says

    This is great, just what I needed today. The past few days/weeks we’ve experienced a series of unfortunate events :)

    I’m grateful for the reminder to ‘go with the flow’ and allow things to take their course.

    Thanks again!

  6. avatar says

    I love the symbolism of the Phoenix. I felt like everything was going up in smoke at the end of 2004. I was 26 with a wife and a life to live and I was diagnosed with cancer. The Drs caught it early and after surgeries and chemo I was out on the other side and I was beat. But, the days went by and my strength returned. The world was more beautiful than I had ever known it before. There have been other small delimmas since, but 2004 gave me perspective and I learned many of the lessons you outlined at the end of your post. Thanks for sharing this post.

    • avatar says

      A warm welcome to you, David, and thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story of what has happened to you.

      Yes, things go up in smoke sometimes. They – we – burn up. It’s a holy fire that has the potential of giving birth to just what you describe: “The world was more beautiful than I had ever known it before.”

      I’m so happy for your healing and for the lessons you have integrated that help you meet every moment with a wide open heart. Thanks for inspiring all of us.

  7. avatarDan says

    Thats life. We all go through natural cycles of light and dark but the intensity can get out of hand if we allow it to. Power comes in being awake to these passing cycles, kind of like the seasons, we need to know they are flowing past, if we swim against this flow, we will tire ourselves out and drown. Being in the flow we have the strength and presence of mind to move forward and see the good in both the light and dark cycles of life. Have a good one.

    • avatar says

      What beautiful clarity, Dan. I appreciate your sharing it.

      I love that you say that “power comes in being awake to these passing cycles.” Swimming against the flow makes things harder, for sure. What I found in my recent experience is that part of the cycle was to resist. Then, when I woke up to the fact that I was resisting, I let myself resist because it was what was happening, and things eased – in the flow once again.

      Yes, life offers light and dark and everything in between. Can we be lovingly awake to all of it?

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for your comment.


  8. avatar says

    I am sorry you were experiencing difficult times, Gail.

    Four years ago, my life was unhappy, though everything looked great on the surface of it. In fits and starts, I plowed my way through various teachers and spiritual practices. What I have found most useful is living my life around a meditation practice.

    The further I go, the more I find truth in the Buddha’s three characteristics of all conditioned objects, annica (impermanence), annata (no-self), and dukkha (unsatisfactoriness). The more we think we are dependent on life circumstances for happiness, the more we cling, crave, and repulse (is there a better word in English for this?), the unhappier we are.

    Ironically, the less concerned I am with life circumstances, the better they seem to become. Still, I find it easier to let go when there is something better, that being the object of concentration practice. A scattered mind is an unhappy mind.

    Wishing you peace and happiness.

    • avatar says

      Thank you so much, Mr. LK.

      You speak about the ultimate truth, which is knowing who you are. When this is realized in totality, there is no more attachment to life circumstances for happiness, and all arisings are simply seen without any story that makes us cling or push away (or suffer).

      My experience of myself and others, is that this realization takes some time to be complete. And each time of attachment and suffering is another opportunity to discover the possibility of freedom. Meditation is certainly a wonderful supportive practice to this realization.

      I love talking about these matters because they (and peace and happiness) are truly the only thing that is important.

      I always appreciate taking in your comments. Thank you.

      • avatar says

        I know there are sensations.
        I know there are thoughts which conceive these sensations as fingertips on a keyboard.
        I know there is a thought, “I am typing”.
        I know there is a thought, “There is a mind which infers keyboard, fingertips, typing, from these sensations”.
        I know there is a thought, “I am that which is aware of the thought”.
        I know there is a thought, “I am that which is aware of the thought is yet another thought”.
        I enjoy delving into these matters as well, but language is limited. Talk can only get you so far.

        • avatar says

          So true, Mr. LK. Who we are cannot be touched by words or explained by them. But everything – the words, the screen, the keyboard, the sensations – arise from the essence and dissolve back into it. And we remain – stable, clear, spacious, loving…

  9. avatar says

    Thanks for sharing the valuable lessons you’ve learned. Mine don’t differ very much.

    In the midst of the “dark” times, it is very easy to forget those lessons. We have a tendency to revert back to the fear response. But I think this is part of the joy in the crises – we are reminded. Each time we go through something challenging, we are reminded of these life lessons, which we might otherwise forget. For that I am thankful.

    BTW…your site is giving an error about the version of CommentLuv you are using. It says you need to update the plugin.

    • avatar says

      I completely agree, Nea. We forget. And can we have compassion for ourselves in this forgetting? I love how you say that the joy in the forgetting is the remembering. That is exactly what I experienced. When I started to wake up out of the dream of suffering, I was so thankful.

      You sound like you have used your crises well. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

      And also thanks for telling me about commentluv. It should be fixed now.

  10. avatar says

    Oh Gail, What bravery and love for life you show. It is not easy to through the haze of a terrible fog when it descends on us as I know very well myself. In fact I’ve just made a comeback post after an absence of 6 weeks while I tried to find my way out of the maze of denial. It is so true that once we finally accept what is happening and let the anger and resistance ‘drop from our shoulders’ if you know what I mean…that is when the healing and the rising from the ashes can begin. And what a beautiful dawning it is when that realization comes that we can and will go on…maybe badly scarred but more beautiful inside for it! Thank you for this honest and uplifting post.
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    • avatar says

      Welcome to you, Rosemary.

      Your comment makes me think of how useful it is to remember to have compassion for ourselves. Going through a tough time is not a mistake, it is just another arising, an offering from life. And even the resistance isn’t wrong.

      For me the motivation was about re-discovering peace that I knew was there but just covered over. The beautiful dawning comes when it comes.

      Thanks so much for your tender and wise comment.

  11. avatar says

    Dear Gail – I’m glad to rediscover your blog – via a link posted on FB by Rosemary Hannan. I love the metaphor of the phoenix rising……and yes, I too have experienced the same feeling of complete and utter hopelessness. What made it worse is the knowledge that I had messed up and really badly at that. But when, deep down, we are committed to becoming better and making changes, as you rightly said ‘the clouds do part’. Looking back, I’m always filled with wonder and gratitude of how I made it ‘out’. The knowledge of ‘strength found’ truly empowers me to move on and make my life meaningful. Thank you for reminding me of my own journey. I feel renewed again…..
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    • avatar says

      This is such a beautiful sharing, Corinne. Sometimes we do mess up, and there is something we need to learn. And it comes down to what we want, as you say, where our commitment lies.

      The willingness to be completely honest is the key to discovering true happiness. I don’t want to leave one stone unturned in this regard, and it sounds like you don’t either.

      Thanks so much for your comment, and for stopping by.

  12. avatar says


    This is beautiful. I’m sorry that you’ve gone through such a difficult period. At the same time, it’s wonderful to see the “reborn” you. The threads that run through this for me are self-acceptance and surrender. I’m very solution oriented myself, but as you point out you can’t push the river, it flows by itself. These are very deep and insightful lessons and I’m so grateful you have shared them here.
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    • avatar says

      Hi Sandra,

      I tried many solutions. All of them went nowhere because, as I eventually discovered, what was needed was self-acceptance and surrender.

      I love this phrase: “you can’t push the river, it flows by itself.” This is a great reminder for all of us who try to control the uncontrollable.

      Sending love…

  13. avatar says

    I think we all go through different phases and when we’re feeling good, it’s more difficult to relate to those who feel depressed. At least that’s how I feel, until it’s my time to feel desperate and in need of help. I always find life surprising. It would be wonderful to always feel great about how we’re heading in a positive direction.

    • avatar says

      Hi Sonia,

      It’s a challenge to keep our hearts open to everyone and everything. When life is sailing along smoothly, we live under the illusion that will last forever. I love how we can let ourselves be taken here and there. We get what we get, which makes life so rich.

      And you are definitely one who lives life with gusto!

      Love to you…

  14. avatarMarie Miller says

    It is amazing and extremely unique how you manage to comment on each one of your reader’s comments.

    I haven’t seen another blog that is able to personally engage their readers in such a way.

    I really hope you drink in all of our thanks and give yourself credit for the very unique special way you are contributing to your reader’s lives.


  15. avatar says

    Dear Gail,

    Thankyou for sharing this story. What stands out for me is the power of a victorious spirit, an unconquerable spsirit.

    Sometimes all we have left, at least it seems that way at times, is the trust or willingness to keep going no matter what, and you sure were true to your integrity in this example.

    So happy to reconnect with you Gail. Love and blessings.
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    • avatar says

      I love this comment, Chris. It speaks to our resilience, as you say so beautifully, “the power of a victorious spirit.”

      Life wants us to be happy, to find our way out of the fire, to awaken.

      Thanks for such loving support.

  16. avatar says

    Gail, I am so happy that you stated that “resistance is natural”. I believe that in our society, which is filled with control mechanisms of all sorts, microwaved responses and reactions, we have been conditioned to think that we should be able to control our situations in the most efficient way in order to achieve our ultimate desired outcomes.

    …and then we are disappointed when our ultimate desired outcome never happens.

    Sometimes, we got to go through the fire. I have had a few experiences to realize that there will be situations in life where there is no way around the fire. Gotta go through it. Sometimes, I kick and scream a bit (it’s only natural), however, as I “just be” I remember that this process only serves to temper me… to strengthen me… to transform me into something powerful… into something that has the ability to positively affect others in the most significant ways as I share the discoveries of my journey with them.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    Sending you hugs :)
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    • avatar says

      Hi Ajen,

      I’m a big fan of accepting what is, and if resistance is here, it only makes things worse to resist the resistance. But even that is OK too. The greatest healing comes through complete acceptance of everything as it is – even those experiences that don’t fit our belief systems or make us squirm.

      Everything that comes our way holds the potential for transformation – even the fire.

      I appreciate your sharing your wisdom and personal experience – hugs back to you…

  17. avatar says

    hey gail,

    am droppin through corinne’s blog. and i am so glad that i do drop by.

    what u have written is so true and its something i am going through right now. i have now reached the phase where i know i dont have control over thinks. so i just pray that what ever life throws at me now i am able to take it in the best way possible.

    i am back to doing the things that i love and thats helping me relax even all the more. now i am just waiting for the tide to cross over and for me to emerge out from the waters on to the shore.

    that was a lovely read and couldnt come for me at a better time than now. so thank u for sharing your experience. because it has made my self reflections much more easier.
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    • avatar says

      I am also so glad that you dropped by, Anila. And happy that this was the perfect post for you at this time.

      I love your willingness to surrender – to accept what life throws at you, and to do the things you love, even if times are hard.

      It helps everyone to hear people’s stories – thank you so much for sharing yours.

      Sending love….

      • avatar says

        it is at times like these that u need an assurance.. i think its more to do with the thinking “why me” and “what’s next”. but when u hear ppl like ur self sharing their experiences.. that gives u the courage making u feel “guess what i’m overcome it what ever it may be.”

        thanks once again.
        take care . lots of love
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        • avatar says

          Hi Anila,

          When we start taking responsibility, being conscious in our lives, things begin to transform. We can’t control circumstances or other people, but we can take a look at our reactions and set the stage for change.

          Thanks so much for your comment.

          Lots of love to you…

  18. avatar says

    It’s so true that when you’re in the thick of things, you can’t see a way out. But once you do manage to get out, you realize that it’s these hard times that make the best part of the person you are. Best of luck.

  19. avatarStressed in NH says

    Oddly enough I was searching through my old favorites list in my browser trying to find something to change my mind…and I stumbled across this website I had bookmarked over 1 year ago.

    Anyway, I am going through hell and have been for nearly a year. Previously extremely successful business man with nearly everything going well to losing jobs, income and facing foreclosure in a few weeks. Completely overwhelmed and I can find no hope in anything.

    Like you, I’ve kept up eating healthy and going to the gym regularly and I’m sure it’s helped to some extent but nothing I’ve noticed.

    I’m hoping this abyss is ending and that I may recover and, at the very least, go back to some sort of normalcy. I’m not looking for my old life back but I’d like to be able enjoy my infant daughter and my 10 year old daughter. I’d like to be able to not have creditors calling me 24/7, I’d like to be able to find a job instead of being so overwhelmed and burnt out that I can barely get out of bed. This is hell and I’m truly hoping, praying and dreaming I come out of this like the Phoenix.

    Regardless, I found your post helpful and it gave me some hope.

    Thank you.

    • avatar says

      Dear Stressed,

      I so appreciate that you wrote and described your situation. I feel your fear and despair. I have no magic words to offer you, but I do know about the resilience of the human spirit. And I know that things happen in their own time and often have little to do with our need to control.

      I, and I imagine lots of people who read these posts, are walking with you in support.

      Much love to you…

  20. avatarWriting Triathlete says

    This is just lovely, Gail, and exactly what I needed right now. I’m in the midst of my own darkness, and your sharing and suggestions are enormously helpful. I’m working on remembering joy in the middle of it all– will have to make that “want-to-do list” this weekend! Thank you so much for sharing your ideas and experiences with the world.

    • avatar says

      Hi and welcome, WT,

      I love how we find exactly what we need, and I’m glad this post spoke to you. We can get consumed by our difficulties – and finding those cracks where joy can seep out can make all the difference.

      Oceans of support to you…

  21. avatarDarlene says

    Hi Gail! This is the first time I’ve been to your site, I was searching for the meaning of Phoenix Rising. For the same reasons you mentioned I feel my life has mirrored the end of the 100 year life of the Phoenix and I’m on the verge of the rebirth & rising. I so appreciate thinking of the difficult times being the winter seasons of our lives. In that context I realized I’ve had far more Spring, Summer and Autumn seasons. What a fabulous outlook you gave me for this Winter season of my life. Thank you, Darlene

    • avatar says

      Welcome to you, Darlene! So glad you found us here at A Flourishing Life.

      You are on the verge of rebirth and rising? Then you have wonderful, unknown things to look forward to. Spring, summer, and autumn have their own delights, but we tend to deny winter its due. Only by experiencing winter can the spring burst forth.

      Happy blooming!

  22. avatarSatina says

    Boy Gail, what a wonderful blog to read tonight. Hey, those curve balls, when they come, can really knock us off balance, at least that’s what has happened to me.

    It’s taken everything in the last few days, just to keep going. Reading your blog, reminds me of the truth that we DO come thru the other side, but when its like this, it just can’t come fast enough.

    I love the list you’ve shared and have printed it out as a loving reminder to myself.

    Two items in on the list jumped out in particular. Don’t pretend you know what you don’t know.
    Feeling bad isn’t wrong – it’s just how things are sometimes.

    What is it about us, that I feel I’ve got to have an answer and be able to work it all out, right now, when craziness is unfolding?

    I did have an insight today, in amongst it all. That life is transforming and having EVERYTHING that no longer serves me in my life, leave, seemingly all at once. But in a way, that I can’t help but get the message. Here’s the message…..

    When your instincts tell you it doesn’t feel right, WALK AWAY. Not only is it ok to walk away, its vital. The lesson, use this to discern who I allow into my close inner circle of friends and especially as a partner.

    I feel like one of those birthday candles that doesn’t blow out, continuously igniting at the moment. Reading your blog, had me take a deep breath and give into the combustion. Burn, baby burn…..cause it reminds me, I will rise up from this.

    Funny, my connection with you came after searching for ‘phoenix rising from the ashes’ on google, following an intuitive nudge.

    It’s encouraging to see, how you sharing your coming thru your own difficult time, has really helped me tonight. I know I’m soon to share my journey of recovery from my stroke, which is still in progress.

    Your an inspiration, in gratitude.

    Love Satina

    • avatar says

      Dear Satina,

      So great to see you over here at A Flourishing Life!

      Your comment is brimming with insights – I can see you are making good use of this time – even though it might be painful. If I could say one more thing, it would be, “Relax.” Everything will take care of itself in its own time. We love to fix and know and have control, but sometimes we just can’t. Relaxing can ease the stress and tension.

      So much support to you on your journey. Sending love…

  23. avatar says

    The Phoenix is a resurrection story written when people lived 137 years and the last man Nimrod (Narmer) had died in Egypt who was 500 years old. The Phoenix (pronounced Venus) is said to be the rising bird, but it is the rising sun below it that is in ASH (Leo or lion) not Venus. So the story is not about its death but its rebirth. Thank you for the 100 years because it verifies connection to the Great Pyramid’s intent to measure 100 years. Nimrod was born 100 years after the Flood, started the pyramid when he was 100 (thus 200 after Flood), it failed one chamber per 100 years (92 years thrice until Babylon’s 1st king in 1894bc), and then he died in year 600 (1770bc) when he was 500. I guess that makes four Phoenix, i only had three. The 500-year Phoenix (which is correctly a half-cycle of 600 years, then 1460-year is not Sothis 365 leap days in 310bc but rather 1458-year Venus in 312bc (6x 243 year per point of 1215-year pentacle), and then the 270 years from Nimrod’s birth to winter solstice death of Reu in 2000bc mistaken as years of 360 days (97,200 days translated as 97,200 years). So thanks for your 100-year version. PS.Armageddon is here, survive it you’ll meet everyone resurrected, they are not in heaven.

  24. avatarRishant raj says

    Dear Gail
    Its never too late, thank to you i read this blog unknowingly. And the best part of it is that, it looks kind of my story. I have still not overcame my defeats still struggling but now i got a new hope. A ray to ignite my unfulfilled wishes and i am damn sure now it will drag the success to me. I used to believe in the core idea of phoenix but i lost it somewhere in the middle of my extremely brutal journey. Thank you again for those 10 points. They are not just conclusion but like 10 life for distress,fatigued,tormented,depressed,misguided souls.
    Thank you.

  25. avatar says

    The most amazing thing happened to me tonight and I believe it is a sign. I watched a movie by myself called Aftershock, it was a movie about an earthquake obviously, it was a tear jerker. After watching for 2hr and 15 min, they posted their thank you’s for the film and it said “Like a Pheonix Rising from the Ashes”. I never in my life heard this before. I thought, hmmm what does that mean? Anyway, I put on reruns of something mindless after enduring such a powerful movie, and as they watched a house burn to the ground, they realized that the person wasnt in it and they said “Like a Pheonix Rising from the Ashes”. I was in shock. How could I hear this withing 15min of each other. I had to look it up.

    I clicked on this blog and it was like my light bulb moment. All your words you wrote came to fruition for me. It was like It was in my head and I was reading what I have been feeling for so long.

    I too have been through a rollercoaster the past 7 yrs and for the first time in a long time, I am happy again. Im letting go of my guilt and depression which has plagued me and learning to forgive and love myself again. It has been a long road.

    I believe everything happens for a reason, my guardian angel gave me a sign out of no where with that one quote which led me to you Ms Brenner. This was no coincidense in my book. Thank you for opening my eyes when I needed to reflect my accomplishments of self healing and confirm that Im OK.

    • avatar says

      Thank you so much for writing, Monica, and sharing this amazing story. You are being guided by the benevolence of life so clearly.

      You are the phoenix rising from the ashes, as I was several months ago. This is how it seems to go – the intensity of the burn gives way to the arising of something fresh and new. I am so happy to hear that you are happy again. And I’m thrilled that you found your way here. May your journey continue and be fruitful for you.

      Love to you…

  26. avatar says

    Add to my previous comment. (1200-year cycle of rising Venus when the sun is in Ash /Leo). The date is 1770bc July 10. It is year 1200 of Noah (2970-1770bc) and 250 years after Noah died. The Maya mistake it as the king of Babylon in Adams year 3600 (2256+Naohs 1344 from Flood 3114bc) and the Moslem as 8 years earlier 1778bc July 12 also as king of Babylon in Adams 3600 (Noahs 1344 from Flood 3122bc). Both are Venus, but the true one is 1770bc because that July 10 is the Tamuz (sun cross over Mars) which marks Nimrod dead at 500 as the last person of longevity. Average age then was 137, no one was 200 nor 300 nor 400. It was assumed that bad people do not live that long, and so his ways became our religions.

  27. avatarpoonam says

    I really liked ur story,as i m going through a traumatic phase too, I was married 2 years ago and 7 months back i lost my husband in an accident. i tried rushing him to the hospital but all efforts were futile. i go through all sort of emotions and then try making best out of the situations. i have a good friend circle and family that keeps me up for all the upcoming times. i know what u wanna say when u say that just ride on with the waves. try feeling blessed for all that is there ,rather than what is not.
    thanks for such a nice story.


    • avatar says

      Thanks so much for writing, Poonam. I am very sorry for the loss of your husband.

      As you know, it takes some time, but it sounds like you are slowly rising out of the ashes. I’m happy for you that you have strong family and friends, and that you are focusing on feeling blessed for what you have.

      All my best to you…

      • avatarSudhanshu says

        This article is so beautifully written that I could not stop myself reading it 3 times back to back. I haven’t been in the best of times recently but my friends have got me going through the phase rather smoothly. But the worst time of the day is when I get up in the morning and feel the emptiness…it is a terrible feeling…nothing much anyone can do at that time as you are alone…but today I happen to read this in the morning…so it was just a kick start I needed for the day. Thank you.

        • avatar says

          A warm welcome to you, Sudhanshu.

          It sounds like for you morning is the time when the story of aloneness starts running. Maybe you can be so kind and loving toward yourself, that the story doesn’t even fit. And if it comes, let it be there without getting too involved. You are planting seeds for a rebirth. The phoenix will rise from the ashes…

          So much love and support to you…

  28. avatarlisa says

    this to the phoenix was giving to my spirit after losing my husband in my nest that burn was my soulmate, friends, career, all burn thats well with my soul(let it be let it be) I AM LISA SHALL RISE AGAIN THIS TIME MORE POWERFUL AS ONENESS WITH THE SUN OR RESURRECTION SON.

    • avatar says

      I hear your song of rising up, Lisa. You sing it so beautifully, so powerfully! From the ashes of the burn of all attachments comes the realization of oneness, life itself.

      Keep singing, my friend…

  29. avatarChris says

    Thank you for your story. My nickname from friends over the years has been The Phoenix and I just went through another one of the at least dozen episodes of my life crumbling around me. I learned the single most important lesson of my life from losing the one woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with due to what I have found is my severe codependency. Your lessons are the same ones I’ve come to realize. I have always hoped that I could finally learn some lessons slowly over time by working and focusing but I have come to also realize that I must embrace being a phoenix instead of fighting it. If it is my way then it is my way. This lesson is one I’ve been trying to learn my whole 40 years of life. I am devastated still but the level of thanks and gratitude that I came away with more than balances the pain. Tonight was a goodbye and I feel glad that I came upon your post. It is timely and helps.

    I hope all the best for you and may we all continue to grow and become our authentic selves.

    • avatar says

      I’m so moved by your comment, Chris. Thanks so much for sharing what has happened for you.

      The lesson you mention is huge – recognizing that there is severe codependency. That recognition invites you to investigate the truth of the matter. Is there really something missing inside you? Does the other really need the help and support you think you are there to give? This is such a rich area of exploration to learn to stay grounded in yourself.

      Not fighting change and loss – now that is wisdom. So much easier to move with rather than against.

      Thank you for your beautiful prayer – that we may all continue to become our authentic selves. Much love to you…

  30. avatarDan says

    Thanks. Just went through the hardest time of my life. When reading this post it felt as if I was writing it myself. Strong words of inspiration.

  31. avatarMarsha says

    Gail, I would like to thank you for the lovely and powerful image of the phoenix rising from the ashes. I had a dream 4 nights ago that felt very prophetic and important. In it I walked past a mound of earth that was smoldering. I was curious as was the person traveling with me. We both continued past it, but I felt this strong pull to turn and move towards it. I waved my hand over it and it started to stir. Suddenly a bird emerged that looked identical to the bird in your image with one exception. It was blue in color. It rose up and I felt exhilerated. That’s when I woke up with the dream very vivid in my mind. I haven’t been able to quit thinking about it for days. Today I started a search to find out what it might mean. That’s how I found your site and the amazingly familiar image. I just wanted to say thank you.

  32. avatarYohannes says

    I’ve been going through so much lately and i really don’t know how to explain what im going through because its in within me and its hard for me to explain. I decided to reaserch “The Pheonix rising from the ashes” out of nowhere but i did and the stuff i have been going through seemed to find an answer to itself and im very glad that i found this. Thank you!!

    • avatar says

      I am so happy for you, Yohannes. You are not alone in what you are going through. These times come to all of us, and it becomes a matter of how we meet them. Like the phoenix, you will rise. The dark times are when seeds are planted. They may not grow for a while, but let life unfold, and the treasures are yours.

  33. avatarAbuna Hetep Ra says

    A confirmation of strong emotional feelings good or indifferent. We must not deny them to learn a lesson to continue to rise (ascend) Thank you.

    • avatar says

      Welcome to you, Abuna.

      Right on about feelings. Good not to entrap them by ignoring or denying them or worship and wallow in them. The middle path is to feel them as is, see what they are made of, and they dissolve naturally.

      Love to you…

  34. avatarJessica Erin says

    I really enjoyed reading your blog, it gave some great reminders that I needed to hear today! I stumbled on your blog by accident while getting ideas for my first tattoo, a phoenix… After being raped 17 months ago I feel like I have certainly been through the fire .I want the phoenix tattoo as a reminder, that no matter how hot the fire, how hard and hopeless life can seem there is ALWAYS hope, and from the ashes a beautiful and stronger YOU can arise :) God bless, and thank you!!!

    • avatar says

      Jessica, my heart is singing with you for your triumph! You are a beacon of what is possible – the rising up and the reminder of this possibility.

      Thank you for sharing here. In deep love and great support….

  35. avatarDiane Stromgren says

    I just got done reading all the mail on your blog and am amazed on what support that you give. Every word had some kind of meaning for me. Inspirational and a learning experience. I appreciate what everyone had said and the response that you gave. I have a mental illness and with all my support one more..or more is very acceptable. The phoenix was and is a story that I can relate to every day of my life, because I feel that way of changes during that time. Thank-you to the readers and yourself Gail. God be with each of you. diane

  36. avatarS SRIDHAR says

    Sure and True, the content in ‘Like a Phoenix Rising from the Ashes’ is not a learning for the day, it is learning for days to come. Inspiring, revolutionary, insight and a model of life. It gave thought as to how deal with problem and also how to be dealt by problems.

    • avatar says

      I’m so glad you found this article inspiring, Sridhar – and even revolutionary!! I appreciate that you view it not as a quick fix, but as a way of living.

      When we surrender into the flow of life wherever it takes us – which flows anyway if we surrender or not – all blessings are known.

  37. avatarEchoed Rising says

    Pain, Loneliness, heartbreak, these are only a few of the disasterous conditions that lead my mind to seperate from my body. Phycotic, phycosis.. Travelling to the very depths of hell, where pain and torment seemed unending. Ridicule began when I was just a youngster, abandoned in a well while my Father ran for help and never returned. Not knowing the jist of the tail… I believed he lied when he said he would be right back. Never knowing that the Irish Angel I was talking to while in there was in fact none other than my first split self. Abandoned lonely hungery and dissatisfied with my living quarters, lets call them.. left me no choice but to abandon all hope and go to the place of ever lasting torment where ones mind is permanently disabled. How does one rise?

    • avatar says

      Hi Echoed Rising,

      Welcome to you and thank you for coming here and sharing your story. As crazy as it might sound, the key to rising is to move beyond the story. What you describe is horrific, and since you experienced it, it has lodged in your mind and body. But this is not the past – this here is now, right now. And it is full of possibility.

      The path for you is to begin to learn to lose interest in your thoughts. They have been coming for a long time, and you have a habit of identifying yourself with them. Take a look at this post for some ways to do that. Then begin to meet all the physical sensations in your body. They might be very uncomfortable, but the more you embrace this aspect of your experience, the more at ease you will be.

      I’m not saying this is an easy fix at all. But I absolutely know who you really are – not the limited one with the horrible story. You are brilliance itself, shining everywhere, oozing with love and creativity. You are whole and always have been before anything happened. Try that on for size, be diligent about addressing the thought and feeling patterns that get in the way, and discover peace in this very moment.

      So much love and support to you…

  38. avatarTammy Ricks says

    Because of a breakup and wanting to end my life– (this is a normal thought for me)
    I thought I would write a book before I went — which is also normal for me. The title, “As I Lay Dying,” seemed approprate to me. To tell the story from the deathbed– confessions of a “saint” . I looked up the title and lo it has already been taken. Then I saw an image of one laying in the ashes- forged with metal— and I saw the situation as a Phoenix Rising. writing on facebook.. “sometimes our metal is forged in the furnace of affliction.”
    Then I looked up Phoenix Rising– it too has been taken– then I just looked up Phoenix images and somehow I got here..
    so maybe, I just needed to read your blog.
    Feel the emotions. That’s hard. Thank you for your blog.

    • avatar says

      A big hug to you, Tammy.

      Just because titles have been taken doesn’t mean that you don’t have something awesome and valuable to share. And it sounds like your search is bringing you just what you need.

      Yes, feel emotions, even if it’s hard, but don’t get bogged down by them. Emotions are actually physical sensations in the body with an unhappy story attached. Let the story go, and just feel what is present in the moment. This is how to be so nurturing to yourself – to allow it all without pushing anything away. You might be surprised at how light you are when you hitch your stories to a helium balloon and let them float away.

  39. avatarNatarsha says

    This post came at a time right after having a brutally honest conversation with a family member in the midst of my own burning nest. All of these words spoke to my spirit and I could actually breathe. To know its actually ok to feel bad and not have it all figured out and to not know when you may actually figure it out. To trust in the process… This was such an inspiration to me. Thank you!! I’ve book marked this for quick return and pick me ups!

    • avatar says

      Welcome to you, Natarsha. I love that you realize you don’t have to figure it all out. That is so much pressure, and the medicine is trust. Life brings us exactly what is needed. Love to you…

  40. avatarManjeet Grover says

    Hey Gail
    I just stumbled upon your brilliant stuff by accident and am so grateful for it.Your writing oozes oodles of positivity and just browsing through it is so uplifting. Believe me you are bringing about miraculous metamorphoses in uncountable lives. God Bless you.

  41. avatar says

    Thank you ♡Gail for your sharing,
    3 weeks ago our family home of 35 years was totally destroyed by a raging and uncontrollable bushfire which altogether destroyed 55 homes and 100s acres of bushland….
    Things are still incredible raw for us….
    Life feels like a long road of bleakness and hard work right now……..
    Not only was our family home destroyed but also our 5 acres of bushland and also all our business and office equipment and supplies and materials which was set up at home.
    So much work just to clean up let alone the next step after that……..

    We keep getting comments from people about the Phoenix rising from the ashes so I thought I had better Google it and find out its meaning. I was led to your blog.
    I appreciate reading your learnings…
    They make much sense.
    Gratefully, Susie♡

    • avatar says

      So much loss at one time, Susie! My heart goes out to you, your family, and your community.

      This is an opportunity to be oh, so present – to do the next thing that is right in front of you, and to take very good care of yourself as best as you can.

      And remember, there are always seeds planted (maybe hidden) in the ashes.

      I love that you are searching for a way to understand what happened. The Phoenix will rise…

      In love and support…

  42. avatarStephanie says

    I’m grateful I came across this post, it was something I needed to see at this time in my life. Thank you so much for sharing!

  43. avatarSD says

    “Let things happen.
    •Give up trying to control.
    •Don’t pretend you know what you don’t know.
    •Stay close to what you know is true in the moment.
    •Feeling bad isn’t wrong – it’s just how things are sometimes.
    •Take good care of yourself.
    •Engage with others.
    •Reach out for support.
    •When the time is right, feel the emotions.
    •Get perspective – learn what not to do next time.”

    Thank you!

  44. avatarTWMac says

    Good afternoon….

    Currently I am at or near the lowest point of my life….I am dealing with a couple of major life crises at the moment and have had days when it’s so hard to even get up and out of bed as I know these elephants are still in the room with me.

    Daily I ask God for even a small ray of hope that at some point, this will all be resolved and settled and I can then live my life in peace and happiness.

    Today, this is my ray of hope. I know that, like the phoenix, I too will rise from the fires and ashes of adversity and arise again, reborn and renewed.

    Thank you for being my ray of hope today.


    • avatar says

      Humans are naturally resilient, TM. There are seeds being planted – right now – for your growth and renewal.

      Forget the big picture, and take it one moment at a time. That is where you’ll find some peace.

      So much love coming your way….

  45. avatarAnna says

    Hello Gail,

    Your advice on how to move on sank right into my heart. I have also been trying to move on for the last couple of years. The hardest part is still meeting with friends as everyone has got their own lives and don’t want to know much about my pain.
    I was with someone in unhealthy relationship. After three years of blindness I cut it off sharp and never allowed to reunite although I still loved him. I’ve tried ever since to build my life afresh, but I seemed to fail. Lost the job, my son struggled with anxiety due to adhd and autism. To increase my suffering I saw the ex with his new gf and it hurt to find out he treats her better than me. Nevertheless, I still tried to go on. Only recently I found a new job and l’m looking forward to counselling course in September. I just wish I had some more friends I can talk to and not to feel so alone. I don’t know what it is about me but just after few words people lose interest.
    Anyway, I just want to say thank you for uplifting words.


    • avatar says

      Hi Anna,

      Good for you for getting out of an unhealthy relationship! Yes, it was painful, but it’s time to move on. I’m glad to hear that things are starting to look up for you with a new job and your education. But let’s go further.

      Instead of focusing on problems and what you lack, maybe you can try to turn it around. Instead of focusing on wanting friends, be the absolute best friend possible. Rather than wanting love, love others with all your heart. Put out into the world what you want, and that will be your experience. When you live in lack and pain, you get more lack and pain. When you love fully, with great abundance, then your life will be filled with love.

  46. avatarmara says

    Hallo. After the age of 22-23 and a series of panic attacks, I am living in a constant state of fear …everywhere and everytime…Especially, now with the internet and all the search machines, one can be driven absolutely crazy, only by reading stuff…now, if that someone has a phobia in general for illness…even worse…I know I have to make fear my friend, I guess I can see why most people locate the strenght of fear in the meaning everyone has given to it in general.That we should be terrified of it. All I want to say is that after many years (I am 38 now) I feel many times exhausted , I have been avoiding things and situation, but I will try to do my best, I will try to love myself even more and not hating it or feel inferior for feeling this way and finally wish to get over it. If you have any extra tips to throw (gad symptom !! for reassurance) or another article, I would be most pleased to read it.

    • avatar says

      Hi Mara,

      Little by little, you start to get to know fear so it stops being your enemy. I recently wrote a series on fear which includes a video with a guided practice. You can find them here in the archives – they are the four articles from Oct 23-Nov 4 of this year. Apply what you read to your own experience so you realize the living possibility of finding space from the fear.

      The best thing you can do is relax around the fear. Be curious about it, what is it exactly? Wishing you well on your journey…

      • avatarmara says

        Thank you for your reply. My wishes and thoughts are with all of us that life brought us such mental suffering, I have always considered it pointless, now I know that it exists, for reasons I have to find out.
        Merry Christmas & a Happier New Year 2015 for ourselves firstly..

  47. avatarnancy says

    I recently walked away from my third round of chemotherapy and after seven years of chemo and radiation and PET scans and Dr. Visits I decided it was time to heal my way and on my terms. So very liberating and so right for me. Bless their hearts for trying but they would have killed me. My brother labeled me a “phoenix rising from the ashes” and that’s what prompted me to look up your site.

    Thank you,


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