Lighting Fires


Autumn! It’s fire season!

Do you own a fireplace? We have one in our house but didn’t use it for the first two years we lived here because we hadn’t had it cleaned (although my husband and I aren’t the most rustic people in the world, we had enough sense to not start a fire in a fireplace that hadn’t been used in a great many years.)  And when we did finally have it cleaned and it was ready for use, I spent the next few months waiting for it to be cold enough to actually start using it — and I started dreaming about all the things a fireplace meant.

Like sitting by the fire!  Reading by the fire!  A hot drink by the fire!  Everything by the fire!

And I did get to enjoy those things.  But what really got me about the fireplace was that…well, fires take work.  It’s not like in the movies or in books when you put a log or two in there, walk away, and the thing puts itself out before you go to bed.  You’ve got to make sure you’ve got enough wood (or not too much wood); you’ve got to make sure the wood is dry; when the fire gets puny, you’ve got to reposition the wood, poke at it a few times, blow some oxygen in there, and pretty much stay awake past the point of delirium to make sure it’s out before you leave it alone so it doesn’t burn your whole house down.

Is it fun? Yes.  Is it the most romantic thing? No.

But isn’t tending to a fire like so many things we tend to in our lives? Think about a dream you’ve always had, especially creative things — finishing that quilt, selling that painting, or pitching that great idea for a business.  Writing that book.  Can those things be fun? Sure.  But it’s mostly just work.  I mean, I know that you knew that getting into the project meant you’d have to put effort into it, but sometimes things are harder than they seem.

When we light fires in the fireplace, my husband often takes care of them, so he mostly does the work and I reap the benefits.  But he had to run some errands tonight, and I noticed the fire was dying down a bit, so I took the tools, got in there, jostled the logs around, and somehow got them catching again.

There are few things in life more satisfying than growing a fire after you’re sure it’s been put out.  It’s pretty awesome.  But just when I got settled again, up I got to keep it going.

And the lower the flame got, the harder it was to keep it going again.  I know you know the feeling — you wait too long to write the next chapter, and it feels that much harder.  You skipped your workout on Tuesday, so it’s that much harder to get back on track on Wednesday.

But as long as there’s a little bit left, all hope is not lost.  You can get that fire back.  It does take a little more effort at first, but once all those logs are lit, you’ll feel really accomplished.

When you feel as though you’re completely burnt out, take a little bit of time to quietly refocus.  Picture yourself shifting some pieces of wood around in those embers.  Find your spark — even though it’s little, it’s still there! And let’s say that your fire is completely out.  You’ve metaphorically gone to bed and there’s nothing left in all that wood, but you want to light the fire again the next day.  Find what inspired you in the first place to start the fire and begin again.  Attend that poetry workshop.  Rejoin that playwright Facebook group.

Begin again.  The world will greatly benefit from what you have to offer it!

Until next time, be well!

Christy GualtieriChristy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and son, blogs at, and tweets @agapeflower117. Follow PghPsych on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates, inspirational quotes, articles, and different events and causes related to good mental health.