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Lessons from a Forest Fire:
Focus on the Miracles

I live near Sedona, Arizona, a beautiful resort town surrounded by red rock cliffs. The town sits at the mouth of Oak Creek Canyon, a box canyon with red and white rock walls. A year round creek ripples through the canyon, with lush vegetation in this high desert oasis. The road from Sedona winds through the canyon, then switchbacks up the far end to emerge 1000 feet higher onto a plateau and then into Flagstaff.

On May 20th, 2014, a man-made fire scorched much of the upper west part of the tree lined canyon. Residents and business owners were forced to evacuate and a couple of subdivisions near Flagstaff were put on pre-evacuation orders.

The Slide Fire shut down the road through the canyon, including all of the parks, camping areas and hiking trails. The moratorium lasted through Memorial Day, a holiday that usually brings hoards of visitors and revenue for businesses.

Depending on how you view the fire event, it could either be disastrous or miraculous. The tragedy is that it will probably take generations before the canyon trees and vegetation will recover. Many visitors stayed away because of the smoke and closed canyon, which hurt businesses in the area. For over a week, canyon residents had to find other places to stay.

The miracle is that no structures were lost and there were no injuries. Also, a popular side canyon will look much the same to hikers and campers, because the fire burned mainly the forest floor. While creating a perimeter around the fire, the firefighters found a previously unknown historic cabin, and were able to save this piece of the area's past.

The events in your life affect you through the filter of your focus. You either consider them to be good or bad. Once you code them, your mind seeks to verify and confirm your perception. Your mind will look for more evidence that your viewpoint is correct and ignore any ideas to the contrary. Depending on how you view the event, this can either constrict your creativity and ingenuity or expand your resourcefulness and innovation.

Your attitude is in your hands. Do you want to make yourself miserable by bemoaning the conditions that you don't like, approve of, or can't change? Recognize the facts, accept that things are different and choose to look for something positive and stay upbeat. You have the choice of what to focus on, either on the loss or to find something good.

What you focus on determines what actions you take. If you believe that nothing will ever be the same, you'll block yourself from moving ahead with your life. You'll waste your energy trying to recreate a time that has passed by and your efforts will be frustrated. However, if you decide that a new door is opening for you, you'll move ahead to create something better.

When you're able to focus on the positive in a situation, you open your mind to new possibilities. This mental position instructs your subconscious to extract opportunities out of the condition for you. Many people say that what looked like the worst thing in their life turned out to be the best thing that could have happened for them. This perspective helps you to thrive in challenging times, emerging stronger and having more energy.

One way you can shift your attention to the positive is to find things to be grateful for. You can appreciate the small things, such as a flower, butterfly or sunset. The simple act of gratitude allows you to broaden your potential and what you're capable of.

Although the whole Sedona area dealt with heavy smoke for over a week, affecting many people's health, residents were overwhelmingly grateful for the firefighter's efforts and that so much of the canyon was spared. We'll mourn what has been lost and changed, but will continue to appreciate the red rocks, the canyon and the creek.

Copyright © 2009-2023 Linda Ann Stewart
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As a focus coach, hypnotherapist, and speaker, Linda-Ann Stewart motivates women to focus and transform their business through deliberate actions that break through distraction and overwhelm to greater success, freedom, wellbeing and prosperity. Register for her FREE Design Your Best Day guide and guided meditation at You can contact her at or 928-600-0452.


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