That Time I Set My Kitchen On Fire – And How That Changed Me Forever


I was making a special candy dessert with my daughter, just 4 years old at the time. I didn’t even want to make the recipe, but Lauren begged me to. Given my frustration in the kitchen with this unfamiliar and challenging method, it’s no surprise that my daughter quickly lost interest in cooking with mommy and went to play.

Impatient with a lengthy step in the cooking process, I decided to let the mixture simmer for a bit, thinking my frustration could also simmer down, and I went down the hall to my home office. I got to checking emails and voicemail, nothing of importance, and I just forgot about the sweet mixture simmering on the stovetop. Sometime later at my desk, I heard a sharp whistle. No, it was more like a beep. The beeps came in rapid succession. With a 4-year old and a 1-year old, I dismissed the sound as something coming from one of the kids’ toys. I hit send on the email I was typing and then opened AOL to read some news.

Just as my email sent, my daughter walked into my office, still wearing her lavender princess dress and bejeweled crown from dress-up earlier.  She didn’t look like a princess though. She seemed Much Afraid, staring at me with big frightened eyes. “What’s wrong Lauren?” Her prominent eyes didn’t blink. She didn’t speak. There’s that beeping noise again… Oh ho! That’s the smoke alarm, I realized. I ran into the hall, and it was filled with smoke! Through the smoke, I dashed to my kitchen and… it was on fire. My kitchen was on fire!

“That kitchen fire, 13 years ago, was my turning point.”

I should have been grateful to have a free afternoon to cook with my daughter. I should have been fully present and passionately engaged with my daughter and with the recipe. But what I did was, I saw the cooking time as an interruption to my workday. I felt frustrated, and I took the fun away, which pushed my daughter away. I chose to go into my makeshift office, which wasn’t even buzzing with business or activity.

My Turning Point

That kitchen fire was my turning point. After I emerged from the ashes of guilt, I made a decision. Everyone I was blessed to be with, and everything I was blessed to do, would get my undivided attention. Whether it was spending time with my kids, reading a book on my patio, or being on a conference call, I would give the interaction my all.

I committed to being fully present and passionately engaged with people and things. This meant that if I’m talking with one of my children, I’m not distracted by my phone or thinking of the things I need to be doing. If was sitting on the patio with a book, I focused on the book, and the birds and nature. Not on work or my phone.

Practicing being fully present has helped me to indeed be more engaged with people and tasks. I have more enjoyment, more focus, and I’m a better mother, friend, trainer, and wife as a result.

These days, nearly a decade and a half later, I’m making better choices. I’m intentionally choosing to be fully present and engaged with people and tasks. Like when my daughter, now 17, asked me earlier this month to take a fun painting class with her. I didn’t hesitate even one second!


I hope you make a choice to be fully present and passionately engaged with whatever you’re doing and with whoever you’re blessed to be doing it with. 🙂 

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