“I come from a beautiful country far away. I am the Firebird, and I bring you the blessing of heat. The rays you see shining about my tail are tongues of flame.”

– Firebird

The Native American Story of the Firebird


Antelope Canyon, Navajo Tribal Park, Page, Arizona


In 1971, on my parents’ 9th wedding anniversary, my mother readied for a celebratory dinner with my father.  In the front hallway closet, I was peacefully playing dress-up in my older brother’s winter coats.

Needing to shower, my mother peeked her head into the closet, telling me she was headed upstairs to shower and instructing me to not play with a particular older girl from our neighborhood,

“If s0-n-so should come by, do not play with her.”

Well, sure enough, while the shower sounded from upstairs, So-n-so showed up at our front door. I can vaguely remember So-n-so’s face, but I distinctly remember she was always taunting me.

I cracked the front door and peeked outside. There she stood, her “grown-up” self,  waiting for me to answer.  She summoned me with a plastic baggie,

look what I’ve got

I still remember the sight of that plastic baggie – a sandwich-sized bag full of bright red, gum ball sized red hots.

My mother’s words filled my head –

don’t play with so-n-so, she’s trouble

but those red hots were just that – red hot – and boy, did I want some.

So-n-so opened up the baggie and in went my hand – Pop! into my mouth went one of those glorious gum ball sized red hots and instantly, I choked, gasping for air!

My mother came running downstairs, dripping wet in a towel – her bare skin still wet from the shower – she picked me up, turned me upside down and shook me until the red hot dislodged from my throat. She scolded the girl, telling her to leave and not to come back!

Boy, who’d think after all these years, with memories of such a dramatic scene, I wouldn’t have learned that when someone hurts me, I shouldn’t open the door and allow them inside to repeat the abuse.

– Avoid temptation – no matter how fun-loving, adventurous or red hot a person may seem – if we allow dark, shady, negative people into our lives, they will feed us with toxicity , pain, and torment.


Listen to the warnings, and at every age, stay away from red hot So-n-so and gum balls – they cut and suffocate you.


“Red Hot”


“I was a train wreck. I was just like a time bomb waiting to go off…I had no self esteem, no self-worth, yeah, there were times that I didn’t want to be here…it was just not good.” – Michael Phelps

“This is when we fight, this is when real character shows up, don’t shut down” – Ray Lewis

“Pain builds compassion.” – Mark Salvato

“I related to his [MP’s] story, everything except the 21 gold medals” – EPB


When we’re hurt, we don’t throw in the towel –

we dive in,

we fight.

It’s not about perfection, it’s about evolution –

a gradual process –

of becoming who we’re intended to be.

We go the distance.

Reach for the side, stability, get out of the suffocating waters, breathe,

and stand on our own, work

toward personal growth,

cherishing the personal medals earned

from humility and perseverance  –

Humility driven, not ego driven, we stand on a private platform,

recognizing the defeats that inspire the triumphs.

We discover the remedy lies within us.

Ripping off the dirty, old barely-holding-on band-aids that are pulling away from our wounds, we uncover a new skin –

one  adorned with

honor, righteousness, virtue, and


Defuse the time bomb, avoid the train wreck

Go for the Good –

that’s where the invaluable golds are found.