Are you keeping the fire?

My word for 2018 is reclaiming. It reflects my desire to live out of the truth of all I am. My challenge has always been, like many women, I am high in the personality trait of agreeableness. We are great at building relationships and bringing people together. The downside is that we can lose what is important to us over time. We become very good at defering to others because we value harmony. If you have ever said, "I'm good with what everyone else wants to do",  you are being agreeable.

Over the past decade, I have been reclaiming the part of me that loves being outdoors. I have great memories of being outdoors when I was growing up. It was normal for kids to be outside playing and I spent a lot of time at the nearby creek. My family camped. We frequently went for picnics at conservation parks. During my adult years I spent more and more time in the city and less time in the woods. Time in nature became an event.

At this stage of life I find myself drawn more and more to experiencing life outdoors. When I am in the woods I feel most at peace and most alive. I fantasize about living in a cabin in the woods (if everyone would agree to it!).

As happy as I feel in the woods, I also am aware that I am lacking skills that will help increase my comfort and confidence levels and allow me to explore more. So I looked for an adult education program and signed up. A few weeks ago I participated in the first weekend of a six month wilderness training program .

One of the most powerful experiences of the weekend happened on our final day. After we had a brief introduction to fire making, we were sent solo into the woods to build and start a fire and then tend it while we had our lunch and reflected on all we had learned on the weekend. I was very anxious about starting a fire. As it turns out, starting the fire and tending the fire were two different skills. But since there were matches at our disposal the fire starting wasn't too difficult.

It's a long story so reach out to me if you want the details and I'll tell you all I learned. Suffice it to say, it was deeply profound for me. And although I was very moved at the time, I didn't expect it to stay with me and continue to surface over the last few weeks. Don't you just love when that happens?

As I work with women, I see the metaphor as firekeepers and tending the fire as being highly relevant. I am reading a book about Life Stages and Native Women (see below (#book) ). The author mentions Scots-Métis author Amelia Paget, "She writes about how difficult it was to start a fire by friction or by flint stone, and pointed out, 'as the Indians had such difficulty in starting a fire, to the older and more responsible women would be entrusted the task of keeping it alight. And when moving from one place to another these old women would carry a lighted torch of wood, always watching to see that the spark did not die out'."

I love the idea of being a firekeeper or fire-tender. It is a metaphor for the lives of women. As we progress through life we put a lot of energy into where we are building our fires and getting them started. But the real work is keeping them going. There is a tending that we need to do. We need to keep the fire going for ourselves as well as for our families and communities.

If you are struggling with keeping a flame going in your life, reach out to me. We can schedule a session to talk about how you can tend it.  


I just discovered Life Stages and Native Women at my local library. I've been enjoying reading about the wisdom of women that is passed down through the generations. I decided to take the plunge and order a copy of it. It was written by a Cree/Métis educator living in Guelph Ontario. It focuses on the stages of a woman's life and how First Nation's peoples understood and valued these stages as a contribution to healthy community. Click on the cover to order.

Note: I am an Amazon Associate so I receive a small fee for any books purchased through my posts. You don't incur any additional charges.

Your Truth:

  • When you read this post did you think of any areas in your life that you have neglected or drifted away from?
  • What do you dream of doing that doesn't seem possible in your life right now?
  • Do you resonate with being a 'firekeeper'?
  • What are some of your values you would like to pass on to future generations?