Embracing Fire

154687_4362323009535_2033076670_nI’ve written before that I’m an Aries, which is a fire sign, born in the Year of the Dragon (more fire). I’m also a rare INTJ in Meyers-Briggs terminology, which Newstrology converts to a dragon (still more fire). Could the universe be any more clear? I’m a fire child, through and through. It’s a wonder I haven’t burnt up with all this red-hot fire energy swirling around me.

The truth is, I’ve spent most of my life attempting to tamp down my fiery, passionate nature. After being told over and over that I was too loud, too excited, too strong, too opinionated, too smart, or too intimidating, I worked hard to tone it down, to make myself small and non-threatening. But I was never all that successful. Certain people still found me too much to handle or just plain “wrong.”

When I turned 40, I gave up the struggle. I figured if I couldn’t please everyone, I might as well please myself and simply BE myself. Interestingly, fewer people complained (or else they kept their opinions to themselves). Maybe this was because I was now calling myself a writer and aren’t all writers supposed to be a bit extreme? Yet I continued to struggle with my fiery, dragon nature. It didn’t seem friendly or, dare I say it, nice. Don’t we all want to be seen as nice? I know I do.

As I approached my fifth decade, I more fully embraced the fire in my soul. I started an autism nonprofit and began producing and hosting a literary event that I inherited. I launched an open mic, completed a poetry chapbook, and finished the third draft of my memoir. Yet even as I prepared to launch my business—which I envisioned as a law firm with heart—the fire image gave me pause.

Then last month I went to Aveda to pick up my belated birthday “pure-fume” spray. (I really love Aveda’s products, especially the skin care line that I’ve used for years.) Each Aveda fragrance is based on a “spirit” or natural essence. I wasn’t all that surprised when I preferred the fire scent. What surprised me was when I opened the package at home and saw my fire nature described this way: fire represents power, energy, and transformation.

largeHmmmm. This didn’t seem negative. It was strong, and yes I’ll say it, powerful. But not bad or harsh or unpleasant. In a word, it seemed amazing.

I’m sure not everyone would want to be described in this manner, but Aveda provided me with a definition I can accept, even embrace. As I thought about it, I realized instead of viewing fire as something scary and dangerous, as I’ve done in the past, I need to see it as a source of power, energy, and light. As a force that transforms rather than destroys. As fiery forgiveness that burns away shame, resentment, anger, and blame. As a spark that ignites my creativity and warms and heals my soul. As a phoenix rising from the ashes of my former life. As a force for positive change.

That is a potent reframe, and one that rings true in my unexpected, unplanned life.

Until next time,

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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