Santa Barbara–Based Author Mary Firestone on Her New Book, ‘Trusting the Dawn’

Author Used Personal Experience to Craft Her Way to Greater Happiness

Mary Firestone | Credit: Courtesy

Local author Mary Firestone’s new book, Trusting the Dawn: How to Choose Freedom and Joy After Trauma, focuses on her journey healing from the trauma she endured following the December 2017 Thomas Fire and subsequent Montecito mudslides that destroyed more than 450 structures, killing 23 people. Firestone, who was four months pregnant, lived directly in the path of the debris flow and was separated from her husband and 3-year-old son, trapped alone in the wreckage of her bathroom for five hours. Despite her dire circumstances, and her uncertainty about the survival of her family, she describes feeling a connection with a powerful, calming, protective force, which later inspired her to set out on her own path of healing. Her book is divided into two parts: The first chronicles her story of survival, and the second acts as a sort of handbook for healing methods, with descriptions and quick tips for newcomers. 

We sat down with Firestone to discuss her inspiration and goals for this book.

When did you decide to start writing Trusting the Dawn? The mudslide happened in January 2018, and in the spring of 2019, I was flying back from my college reunion, where I’d been telling the story a lot. On the flight home, it just came to me: I have my master’s degree in clinical psychology. I understood that I had been going through PTSD and had a lot of symptoms, like panic attacks, nightmares, and anxiety. But I was also having all of these positive experiences that I wouldn’t have had without the contraction of trauma and going deeper into my healing. This is more than just PTSD. If I can write something and share with other people that are in the aftermath of trauma, that they don’t have to be “eternally cursed” with this label of PTSD, but there’s a way through healing to a brighter, more dynamic, connected life, then I wanna do it. 

Credit: Courtesy

Some people will shy away from wellness because they see it as hokey, but want to find greater happiness. What would you want to say to those people? I think, happily, wellness is becoming more a part of the mainstream conversation. Take meditation for example; there’s so many apps and different styles and that, I think, is a pretty accessible place to begin. 

I also say this to people who sometimes say, “I don’t have time for that” — I ask, “Do you go to the gym or work out every day?” “Yeah.” “Okay. So why is exercising our physical body more important than keeping our internal, emotional body healthy?” To me, they’re both important. So make time for both. If people are new to it, we don’t have to jump right in and go to Shamanism and talk about Chakras. There are more well researched therapies, such as EMDR. So I wanted this book to be a place for people at all different points of their journey to be able to connect with themselves, and begin their healing or continue with it.

Someone has just finished your book. What’s the biggest thing that you hope that they take with them into their day, their week, the rest of their lives? To know that you’re not alone and that there is a community here supporting you and although it can feel so dark and isolating after going through a hard time, that going through healing can lead to a more dynamic, connected, joyful life.

This book is far from Mary’s first experience in guiding others through their wellness journey. Mary and her sister Lucy Firestone launched their company, Firestone Sisters Inc., in 2012, with the ultimate goal of providing healing and growing experiences for others through experiences and products. The pair has been offering their Wild Precious Life Retreats for nearly a decade, and they have recently begun releasing a line of essential oil perfumes.

Find out more about Trusting the Dawn at Firestone will sign her book at Chaucer’s Books on Thursday, September 29, at 6 p.m. More info is available at

Support the Santa Barbara Independent through a long-term or a single contribution.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.