"THE PHOENIX SISTERHOOD OF MALIBU": view here.
“All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story,” Karen Blixen, author of OUT OF AFRICA wrote. When her beloved farm, home and livelihood in Africa burned down, she turned to storytelling, becoming a renowned writer. When my farm, home and livelihood in Malibu burned down in the Woolsey Fire, I turned to photography to bear witness and to heal by producing “THE PHOENIX SISTERHOOD OF MALIBU”, a mini-documentary of resiliency and hope. (Click here to view.)
The idea of this project was ignited by a question from a dear friend, Ikuyu Baynes A few days after the fire, she offered help, asking me, “What are you doing for self-care?” That was the first moment I allowed myself to cry. I had been so intent on taking care of others who had been on the property through the fire, that I hadn’t stopped to think about myself. Realizing that many women I knew were in the same situation, I wanted to do something for them. As for myself, I desperately needed a reason to get out of bed every day.
The idea for the event took shape two weeks after the Fire when I was asked by HipSilver - the “online community designed by and for the Hip Silver generation” where I contribute as HipSilver’s Food, Wine and Travel Curator - to model CockpitUSA leather jackets in NYC.. Seeing myself looking chic and charismatic in the photos after a beauty make-over gave me the shot of confidence I needed to know “i was still there.”
Within a month of loosing everything I owned, I was offering friends, who were grieving from loss of their homes, a journey of healing and self-care that culminated in a professional photo shoot of each one of them on the remains of their homes. I wanted to capture their essential spirit emerging stronger and more beautiful than ever from the ashes. That was was the vision I wanted them to see when they thought of the fire, not the heart-crushing image of their smoldering home. The project became a workshop of beauty makeovers, shamanic rituals, photo sessions and documentary filming focusing on how five Malibu friends banded together to turn the trauma of the fire into an opportunity for transformation.
By throwing myself into my art, I was able to navigate dark emotions and channel them toward the light. As Malibu poet Ann Buxlie wrote, "Is there any movement quite as invigorating as Creation, unless it’s the glee of Destruction, Creation’s alias.” From the film project, I progressed to a photography assignment on safari in Africa, a photo exhibit and to using Instagram as a journaling tool and, ultimately, as a way to manifest the new life that I wanted to create for myself as a Transformation Travel Guide. Meanwhile, I’m continuing to create and live my story - post by post, film by film. Follow my story on Instagram @nomadchic and check out my blog on NomadChicTravel.com
I couldn’t have accomplished this without the inspiration from HipSilver the great kindness and professional expertise of Nuuvo Salon in Calabasas, Shaman Penelope Randall of Circle One in Chatsworth, and the wonderful volunteer film crew listed in the credits. Finally, a huge hug of gratitude to my Phoenix Sisters who embraced this vision and evolved into a pillar of Sisterhood that continues to provide support as we rebuild our homes and our lives.
Join the Discussion - Leave a comment. Or, reply to these two questions:
What habits and supports systems do you have in place or are you developing now that could be lifesavers in time of trauma?
Have you been inspired by the story of someone who turned trauma into transformation?