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What the fire taught me

By April 28, 202213 Comments

Hello my friend,

In an interview recently, a journalist asked me if I’d always been a determined, “never say die” sort of person. And, if yes, how had the fire developed that side of me?

I thought a lot about how to answer, because in many ways I would say yes.

I’m definitely a “driven” person.

But at the same time, I cry a lot. I am embarrassingly earnest at times. I’m a worrier and over thinker and over analyser.

And I’m not sure if this side of me has changed because of the fire.

But I do think the fire has given me something.


I’m no longer uncomfortable with darkness. I don’t shy away when people share painful stories. And I’m better able to traverse the light and shade that life entails.

I think that’s why I’ve enjoyed podcasting so much.

Truthfully, I wasn’t sure if I’d be any good at it. But I’m loving it. I love talking to people about the challenges they’ve encountered, and what they’ve learned from those experiences.

Like in the last episode of Turia Pitt is Hard Work.

I spoke to the indomitable Linda Burney about her history-making political career (being the first Aboriginal woman to serve in the House of Representatives), connecting with her Aboriginal heritage, how she built resilience through caring for (and losing) her aunt and uncle at a young age, the loss of her husband and son, escaping a violent relationship and why she chose politics as a career path.

Linda is an incredible woman, and I’d love you to listen to our chat.

And what about you?
What have your hardest moments given you?

Are you more empathetic? Are you kinder to yourself?
Do you see life in a new way?

I’d love to know.

Let me know in the comments below.

Much love,
Turia x


  • Dana Mouwad says:

    Hi Turia,
    I have admired you from afar, you see my husband has about the same % burn injury as you which he sustained as a 10yr old child (he is now in his 50’s). I adored him and was attracted to him instantly because of the beautiful soul he was when we met some 30 yrs ago.
    Since getting to know you through your speaking commitments and interviews, I feel like you and he are kindred spirits – I admire his resilience and strength in the face of adversity and his childhood was not an easy one. Born in Lebanon he came out to Australia as a 5 yr old. His migrant parents arrived here with nothing and we’re shift workers with multiple jobs living in multigenerational housing (sometimes up to 4 families in a single house). From the very start, he was their rock. He learnt English fairly quickly and soon was relied upon to interpret and negotiate on behalf of his parents. Life was tough with his four younger siblings and his father quickly turned to gambling and alcohol and became a horrible man who eventually left the family. When my husband was burnt he was not expected to survive – the technology and knowledge around burn injury back in the 1970’s was almost non-existent, and his survival I believe was due to his determination and resilience he had developed at an early age. His father never once visited him in hospital and did not want to accept him back into the family following his first year of hospitalisation post-burn. My husband was left to be the strong male in his family to care for his mum and siblings – he never once complained or felt sorry for himself and was able to navigate his entire family through some very difficult times. We have been married now for just over 30yrs and not a day goes by where I am not in awe of his significant achievements. After we married he went to uni, got a business degree and has spent his entire career continuing to look after, support and advocate for people with extreme levels of empathy which I believe have definitely been honed through his life experiences (he is an Executive in the field of People and Culture/HR/IR). He is one of the most humble, ethical, dedicated and genuinely caring people I have ever met (I work in health and have come across and cared for many people from all walks of life) who works tirelessly to ensure that people are treated with respect and dignity in the workplace, no matter whether they are entering or exiting an organisation. He is kind and compassionate and frequently works with the vulnerable voluntarily or pro bono. He truly has made an impact and difference to this world and I sometimes think to myself there was definitely a reason his life was spared.
    Like you, he is a wonderful example to the world of a great human being who became even greater through leveraging adversity and turning it to positivity.

    • Julie-ann Bowers says:

      Wow Dana what an amazing person your husband is and I believe you are too. What a journey and life he has lived… I am in awe of his determination to overcome the obstacles that have come his way throughout his life, and at such a young age. I am inspired by reading your story and now feel brave enough to share mine … thanks for sharing 😊

  • Lyn Atkinson says:

    At three years of age our grandson Conor died of hepatoblastoma, a rare liver cancer. Medicine failed him. I lived with my daughter for 15 months while Conor underwent surgery and chemotherapy as she had a busy four year old and when Conor was diagnosed was 37 weeks pregnant. Those 15 months were incredibly busy but were some of the happiest months, but also the saddest.
    I certainly have more empathy and despite one’s circumstances there is always someone worse off than you. As a family we have raised thousands of dollars for cancer research and value every day.
    Maybe Inam less tolerant of those who complain about small issues though!

  • Gail walker says:

    Reading your post is like having a positive friend thank u

    • Shan says:

      I really agree with this. When I open the email, I know there is always going to be something uplifting. Thank you Turia for being a wonderful and positive human being

  • Barbara Deen says:

    Hi Tauria…I resonate with your words and truly believe that life is a tapestry of dark and light.The dark times are certainly where you find what you are made of…at the time it may seem impossible that you may come through to the other side,but if you are lucky enough,you will see the many gifts that the hard times have given you.You become less judgemental,have a deeper compassion for others and take the time to listen.We also come to see that although we may wish the experience or trauma never happened…we have become a better version of ourselves.We can relate differently to others.

  • Surviving OCD. (and not the bullshit way people throw that term around that they are OCD because they prefer the same colour pegs on all their washing – That is NOT OCD. OCD is a debilitating mental and physical condition that decimates your daily living. Its horrendous) Surviving abuse. Surviving the death of my baby. Surviving sudden unemployment. Throwing myself off Niagara Falls by starting my own business and then bobbing up in a wine barrell to discover I actually fucking did that and survived and created a most amazing business that saved my family. Fuck yeah!!

  • Sue Oxley says:

    Hi Turia

    I admire your strength, courage, hope and love for everyone.

    In 1996, I had a melanoma which was located between my breasts. The surgeon removed it and when I asked if I needed chemo, he said a flat no and the same to radium treatment. When I asked why, he told me that it was so close to my lymphatic glands that there was no point. In fact, he told me he expected I would be dead by the end of 1997. I have a husband and our two sons were in their early teens, I wasn’t ready to die. My brother and dad had both recently died too. Then, after a meltdown of sorts, I decided to follow an Eastern pathway to recovery – studying aromatherapy, touch for health, Reiki to name a few. What I discovered was that I needed to be more in tune with my body. There were many light bulb moments along the way and with the help of a wonderful GP, diet, acupuncture and massage, I continue to live. Here I am today, still upright and vertical, as they say, despite the predictions of that doctor.

    Over the years I have been able to help many people through their health crises, be an ear or provide guidance when they have asked for it. Additionally, I continue to be helped by many people, such as yourself, Turia, by telling your story. I have found that it is very healing to do so, even if the other person’s story is different, they can relax a little because they know you have been through trauma too.

    Thank goodness for people like you who are brave enough to speak about your journey which in turn encourages other people to speak out – we all have something to contribute to the greater good of all, kindness, understanding and empathy – the world can do with a bit more of that I believe.

  • Katrina says:

    Thanks again for more authentic goodness. I am energized by your chats and your writings. Sharing your light and dark moments I believe is a gift to the world and it takes courage and a mean sense of humour or all is lost!
    I had trauma from an early age which developed into mental health issues and due to those eventually physical ailments, I’m not that unique, this happens to so many people but boy it’s a tough journey I could fill a book, literally I could but would be an awful read ;)
    I totally agree that this thing we call suffering can allow a person to reach a deeper level of compassion for others but it is a choice as the world is full of bitter and mean damaged people that at some point chose to blame life for what hurt them and turned their suffering onto others.
    Luckily daily I see some of the kindest, most humble acts come from people that society would judge as being outsiders, poor, unwell, unloved and abandoned by the tribe at large. Then there are the souls, like yourself, that have been able to overcome their suffering to shine bright and lead the way for others, an example of how to be a better version of ourselves, being capable to give on such a wide platform is truly a special gift, one that only a small number of people can do successfully. I can’t imagine how many people you’ve helped.
    Being human is incredibly challenging if not down right soul crushing at times without having any major physical or mental health mountains to climb. Once at the top the view is amazing and you can see so much further, can see more of the world, understand more of others, become more accepting that just because someone doesn’t look, sound, act like ourselves doesn’t mean we cannot accept them as they are. I spent a lot of my life thinking that people that hurt me or other living creatures were the spawn of satan. My biggest hurdle was (as corny as the following sounds) firstly accepting myself where I was at, liking myself regardless of where I’m at what I am or not doing and finally loving myself regardless of anything or anyone else. Once I achieved those things, after a short 50 years :) I found that I could achieve a much deeper compassion and acceptance of my fellow humans, even the awful ones generally have something redeeming about them if I look hard enough ;) so all the obvious quotes are true. Self love and compassion for self is the vehicle that we step into to reach greater compassion for others, I would say without it is unlikely if not impossible to do. So I guess the deeper the suffering and challenges a person overcomes to reach this then then deeper and wider the amount of compassion is available to us if we choose to pick it up and use it?
    It’s much easier to say all those things once the big work is done, not that this journey ever really ends, but that final step into self love, forgiveness for my humanness and self compassion is what gave me a capacity to see other people through a greater and wider lens of love and compassion.
    Obviously on a bad day I still yell at people doing dumb sh*t in traffic, like I said it’s a journey :)
    ps I’m still on my physical rehab journey but gurl I’m gonna be at that marathon line! I’ll see you back in the 5k training group soon :)

  • Ellena says:

    I am with you on this, the more we can lean into the darkness the brighter we can ultimately shine. My trust in life has never been greater.

  • Ivor L.Roberts says:

    HI Turia,
    Let me thank you for your book on seeking happiness, which lifted me up a great deal-My Wife had a major cancer operation which resulted in having her right jaw replaced by a bone from her leg, followed by two more operations for all resulted in my having to do almost everything in the home-cooking, laundry,shopping,gardening & cleaning for twelve years, and, eventually,my Wife moving into aged care, while I took a small independent living apartment within the same complex so that I could continue to give her some support. I played a lot of sport in my life and now have got back to exercise and long walks to keep me fit(at 88).Whilst looking after my Wife many things had to go but now I know she is being cared for,I am starting to get my life back and have enrolled in a course to learn about Numerology as well as continuing. to exercise but I have learned a lot about myself & relationships with others over these years, and that is a bonus !!

  • Chloe says:

    My hardest moments have given me a better outlook on life, especially people. Hearing other people’s stories and watching people go through life events of their own provides me with a more empathetic character. Undeniably, we’re all a little bit self absorbed but this people analysing helps to distinguish what I want my own life to look like and the path I should follow entailing character traits, values and beliefs which are all very adaptable, which makes me see life in a new way.

  • When my dad was dying, I realized that love is all that matters.