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A group of people stand around a bonfire at night. Some are chatting, and others are watching the flames.

How I Decided To Firewalk And Ended Up Getting A Tattoo!

By Katie Ball

It was the day after I returned from hospital, after the traumatic birth of my daughter Lilith, that I knew I needed help.

And that’s when I reached out to Shine PND for support, and to Lauraine who set it up.

Nearly a year later and after long but very positive recovery, I was given the opportunity to help raise money for Shine by doing a sponsored walk.

Well, a sponsored Firewalk to be exact.

A very different kind of walk!

And yes, the idea of it terrified me. But I also knew how vital Shine PND is, as their incredible support quite literally saved my life.

A newborn baby lies in an incubator with medical equipment attached, including a CPAP ventilator mask and various monitoring wires. The baby is wearing a diaper and a white hat.Lilith was born prematurely by C section, which was traumatic in and of itself.

But she was immediately transferred to the NICU (intensive care for babies), as she contracted Strep B, and I had to watch as she endured procedure after procedure, including a lumbar puncture. 

My way to deal with this trauma was to kind of disconnect, which helped me get through it, but it also took its toll later.  

My husband also suffered greatly during this period, developing PTSD and PND, and we were in a very dark place when we finally returned home from hospital. 

I felt like I didn’t love her and even argued to give her up for adoption. I didn’t realise just how unwell I was, and the illness had begun to talk for me.  

Thankfully, with the help of professional support, and later with and Shine PND, we are in a much better place now, and nearly a year later, I was invited to Firewalk.

Even though the idea of it scared me, I also knew that doing it would give me a big upward push and also raise money for Shine, and I really wanted to give back.

I don’t normally do scary things, tending to hide away from experiences like a firewalk, but I really wanted to make a change, to show my kids that I can do it. To be that example for them.

So I said yes! I will do it!

A group of people, mostly women, sit in a room. One woman with a black shirt featuring a phoenix sits in the front. A screen in the foreground displays text and images about different personalities.

On the day of the firewalk, I was immediately hit by the thought,  ‘WHAT AM I DOING?’

Walking into the training room in Miserden Village Hall, my nerves jangled. I didn’t really know many of the 30 or so mums there and also didn’t know what to expect at all. I mean why do we need to be here for hours? What was going on? Should I just leave?

What I didn’t expect was the transformative and intense training that we all went through.

At first I thought, what have I let myself in for? But the further we all got into it, the more it began to resonate deeply, and I could feel that courage and strength begin to rise from within.

With the exercises, music, the words and in a room full of awesome mums, I was amazed at how differently I felt, and how quickly that happened too.

At points I was in tears, then moments later grinning from ear to ear. It made me feel so much and almost all at the same time.

Toward the end of the training, we sat in a circle and we shared our stories.

This was extraordinarily moving and powerful, to hear all our journeys and to recognise the power of so many mums. I love my kids to bits, but I have been very poorly with PND and I can get embarrassed about it to the point where I withdraw in day-to-day life. To be able to be myself and connect so deeply and with unflinching honesty, and with so many mums, well, it was very moving and deeply needed. I don’t have the words to really share how much this meant to me.

A man stands addressing a seated group in a room with wooden floors and green curtains. Most attendees are seated in a circle, while a few stand by the wall.

In all the stories, I recognised a pattern too. After having the kids, I had just became ‘mum’ and I had lost who I really was. This was especially true after the birth of my daughter as the birth and aftermath was so traumatic. I had to give everything, and in the end I was gone, there was nothing left in me.

I am so grateful we could all share, it was such an outpouring of emotion with such honesty and courage on display.

During the training, and the sharing, I really reconnected with who I was, and who I wanted to be. I could feel that she was still inside me and she was fighting and kicking to come out, and take back control.

And so the time for the actual firewalk approached and again, the nerves showed up. Especially when I stepped up to the fire-lane and felt the heat of the embers on my shins. Chris even reloaded the fire-lane just before I walked, making it hotter and longer!

A person walks barefoot over a path of glowing embers at night, surrounded by spectators. A fire burns nearby.

And when I did walk, it was way hotter than I expected too, and yes I did get some firekisses. But I did walk again. And a third time!

As we all walked, everyone supported each other and the whole experience was incredible.

When we returned to the room after, we celebrated and embraced, recognising that we may have come into the room as strangers, but we were now bound together and every single one of us was an awesome firewarrior and queen. WE DID THIS!

As we embraced and looked each other in the eyes, I could sense something shifted in me. I felt a profound calmness. I don’t usually experience this, so I recognised the significance of this moment and wanted to hold onto it.

The next day I knew I needed to get a tattoo on my hand, to remind me of both that firewarrior queen and the profound calmness I felt. I made a call and before I could change my mind, I had a fire tattoo!

A hand with a small wave tattoo on the side and a ring on the ring finger, placed against a patterned fabric background.

The firewalk has made such an incredible difference in my life, in almost every single way. I find myself walking taller, smiling more, and challenges at work that used to cause me to go off and have an emotional cry now seem to bounce off me.

The tattoo reminds me to always be this amazing warrior queen, someone who causes ruffles and does not shrink away, and I want my children to see this in me too.

If you are thinking of doing a firewalk with Chris, I would say do it! It will change your life forever.

Looking back, I don’t know how Chris managed to do it, to take all these women at absolute rock bottom, and to pull them out of that, and to see these beautiful amazing warrior queens rise. It was so incredible and I will never forget it. I just can’t put it into words what it has done for me.

So in conclusion. Do it. DO IT!

Katie Ball
Fire Warrior and Queen!

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