Survival Over Surrender

Real stories from victims of extraordinary circumstances who chose to survive

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Download my book for free during the COVID-19 crisis

March 25, 2020

I’m making my unpublished manuscript, Nothing Left But Dust, available for free. In the event of Coronavirus, we’re all struggling to some extent with getting through a challenging time. This book helps to remind us of the strength we each have to get through hard times. Donations graciously accepted via Venmo (Melissa Geissinger). As of May 23, 2021 the manuscript is no longer available for download.

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Latest Posts

To Rebuild or Not to Rebuild

April 25, 2019
Blueprints

After losing our home in the Tubbs fire in October of 2017, we finally just broke ground on our rebuild a few weeks ago and are scheduled to pour our foundation in about a week – over 18 months later.

But back then, we didn’t necessarily know what we were going to do. Should we rebuild? Should we sell the lot and buy a new house? Could we build a manufactured home on my parents’ lot out in the country? Could we sell the lot and build a new house somewhere else?

If you’re in a similar spot after losing your house to a fire, hopefully you can learn from our experience.

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1906 Earthquake Commemoration and Lyrics to “San Francisco”

April 17, 2019
1906 Earthquake Commemoration - 2018

Every year in the early morning hours of April 18th, a group of people gather at Lotta’s Fountain in San Francisco to commemorate the anniversary of the 1906 earthquake and fires. It’s not a large group – sometimes it seems like the press outnumber the attendees. Folks, many who have links to survivors of the quake, some dressed in period clothing, gather to remember the event and the devastating impact it had on the city. There is always a call to be prepared. The next “big one” could always be just around the corner.

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How to Recover from Trauma: Tip #4 Be Bold

April 5, 2019
Be Bold

When you’ve been through some really hard shit, it’s really really easy to want to put on some camouflage and fade into the background. And by all means, if you are still in survival mode, allow yourself that time. I needed it. A lot of it. I didn’t want to be in the spotlight anymore and I stopped interacting on social media. I stopped asking friends to come over and keep me company.

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How to Recover from Trauma: Tip #3 Make New Friends

March 14, 2019
Melissa and Emily

When you go through a trauma, it creates a rift in your life. For me anyway, there is the life I had before the fire and my son being born, and there is the life I have after.

It’s not even like two different chapters, it’s like two completely different books in the same series – some of the characters are the same, but it could very well exist independently.

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Raku: The Japanese Pottery Style that Speaks Volumes

March 10, 2019
Raku pottery

You don’t have to literally survive a fire or be a super deep thinker to get it. It’s not really a big stretch. Pottery is fragile until it’s been fired. Clay is carefully sculpted with an attentive touch and only holds its shape when it’s put in a kiln at over 1000 degrees Celsius and exposed to extreme temperatures.

We’re like that too. We’re more soft and susceptible to damage before we’ve seen hard times. After we’ve been through some shit, it hardens us and leaves us more likely to survive.

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