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Devastation + Destruction (And How It Ignites Light + Love)

I began last Thursday morning sobbing after hearing the devastating news of the Thousand Oaks shooting.

My heart was broken, for the millionth time this year, for the families, the victims, and our country.

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Later that day, my husband left for a quick dad’s weekend surf trip to El Salvador, and I held my kids close, feeling grateful for my family, yet emotionally distraught over the tragedy so close to home.

And by Thursday at 3 am, I was opening my door to friends who had to evacuate their homes in Agoura Hills, due to the imposing fires.

By Friday morning, we lost power, but took in another family who had slept in their car on a hilltop, looking down at the burning valley below.

And on Friday afternoon, my home became a safe haven for 4 adults, 5 boys, 3 dogs, a parrot + a turtle.

With no power, internet, news, or social media, we kept our eye on the skies and our hearts on each other.

I had been through this once before a few years earlier, and I knew that in the window of time where it seemed like we may not need to evacuate, I needed to prepare myself and my children to leave our home….for good.

I started packing up important things and told the kids to “choose what brings you the most joy,” as we put stuffed animals and books in their backpacks.

I trusted my intuition + loaded the car.

Better to be prepared to leave and have to unpack it all, than to not be prepared.

EVACUATION TIP: If you ever need to evacuate your home, as you go around collecting important things, take pictures of every room, the garage + the backyard, so you have an updated visual documentation of what you own.

It is also in those moments, you realize what really matters most, and that all the “stuff” is so trivial.

Friday evening, our neighborhood was still safe from fire, but were without power.

We all gathered around battery-powered flickering candles (pictured above), and then I put the kids to bed by flashlight, and told them that mommy would keep them safe.

Throughout the night, I went outside every few hours, as we all kept watch on our pitch black neighborhood.

Saturday morning they imposed a mandatory evacuation as a preemptive safety precaution. The homes near us were still unharmed, but the fire was growing fast.

Without power + any connection to the outside world, going to stay with friends felt comforting + safe.

My husband called me in tears, sharing how bad he felt that all of this was happening while he was away + that he was looking into early flights to come home and cut his trip short.

I told him to stay and enjoy the clean air, the stillness and the waves of the warm water ocean.

I encouraged him to also ride the waves of grief that may come up after losing his dear mother and dog of 16 years, just months earlier.

Often, it’s not until we get out of the daily routine of our busy lives that we realize what is really going on within us.

Sometimes it hits you on when you’re traveling to a far away destination.

Other times it hits you in the midst of a devastating weekend, when you have your first quiet moment in a hot shower, that you find yourself sobbing over all of it.

You cry over the loss of those near to you, and the loss of those you never knew.
You cry over the hero who stood in front of college students + died trying to save their lives.
You cry for those who lost their homes and their pets in the fires.
You cry for the brave firefighters who rushed in, while everyone else fled.
You cry for the pain, the uncertainty, the exhaustion + the helplessness you feel.

And then you cry tears of deep appreciation that your children are okay, that you are okay and that your home is still standing.

In those moments, you remember that life will throw you curve balls when you least expect it.
In those moments, you are reminded that you are stronger than you know.
In those moments, you marvel at the fragility of life + the resiliency of the human spirit.

We returned back home Sunday evening, grateful to unpack the car + settle back in.  And within hours we were given another mandatory evacuation due to high winds that were expected throughout the night.

So I finish this post, back at my friend’s home, with my two children sleeping soundly, eternally grateful for the love + support we’ve been shown these past few days from loved ones near + far.

What gives me hope, is that amidst all of the internal and external devastation, what has also been ignited is light, love kindness and connection.

Seeing communities come together, strangers come together, rescue teams and volunteers and people looking out for one another, gives me hope that there is still so much good in the world.

I’d like to do my small part in spreading more of that good today.

I created the guided meditation called “Feeling Calm Amidst Chaos,” and I never knew how timely it would become + how much we all would really need it.

I’m including the direct link today, so you can have it for free, no opt in required.

Here is the direct link to download Feeling Calm Amidst Chaos for free.

Download it. Listen to it. Share it with anyone who could use it.

I hope this helps you (and those you love) to acknowledge the feelings that chaos can ignite and guide you back to finding hope, grace + stillness within.

You are stronger than you know. And there is so much good in the world.

Let’s continue to share light, love, kindness + connection with one another.

Leave a comment below + share any thoughts you wish.

Sending you lots of love + sincere gratitude,

– Wendy

Comments

  • Frankie Dietz #1

    I cannot even begin to imagine the devastation and loss that is being experienced by you all in California. I am so terribly sad … for you, Wendy, for others I know, for the whole state! I absolutely think of California as my American ‘home’, having lived in Pasadena while studying, and having mind-blowing adventures traveling Big Sur on motorbike.

    From Vancouver, BC, Canada to this beautiful Golden State, I send lots of love and healing vibes.

    Reply

  • Bernadette Speakes #2

    Thank you, Wendy for sharing your transparency and vulnerability. The day the fires started, not knowing what was happening, I awoke (4am), to the smell of smoke. I heard so many sirens, blaring down my street! I thought is was all local, until I got out of bed and turned the news on. My daughter’s friends lost their homes, and my friend’ Mom, whisked lived in a Westlake Village for 43 years, was asked to evaluate. This right in the heels of the TO shooting. A close friend knew the young man that died while trying to save others, in the TO shooting. To watch his dad speak to the news, broke my heart. My mind couldn’t grasp all that was happening around me. But, that’s when I have to look for the beauty, through eyes of love…realizing that whatever chaos is uprising, peace is ever abounding. I choose to sit in the eye of life’s hurricanes. And when I looked around, I saw no enemies, no difference in financial backgrounds or ethnicity…only people…neighbors, strangers, children, grandparents, aunts, and uncles helping each other! Hugging, crying on each other’s shoulders, opening up their homes, giving water to drink…empathy & compassion flowing! The unifying spirit of humanity came alive, in the mist of tradegy. And I cried, and was extremely grateful to witness it all.

    Reply

  • Cindy Varon #3

    We live in Thousand Oaks. We are 10 minutes from where the shooting occured and were mandatory evacuated at midnight on Thursday. I’ve been in a constant state of sadness, survivors guilt and anxiety since all of this started. When I heard about the shooting, I cried. I cried so much, feeling all of the pain for those families who lost their loved ones so suddenly and so tragically. Then as I’m leaving the house on Thursday to drive to an audition, I think, “Gosh, I hope there are no fires today”. I get home Thursday, I see the smoke and go into denial that we won’t be affected. We have 3 cats, 2 kids and 1 puppy. I didn’t pack a bag. I didn’t think ahead. At midnight that night, sirens and strobe lights went up and down our street and a first responder pounded on our door. She yelled at me, “Mandatory evacuation, get out NOW!” I gathered all the animals while my husband got the kids and we went to my brothers house who lives right by us, to only be evacuated from there 30 minutes later. I stood there with both of my brothers as we watched close flames approaching us. You couldn’t breathe. So, there we went all of us to my moms house in West LA to stay safe and watch the news all night while the fires came right up to our neighborhood. My brothers homes were yellow tagged and we cried as we watched, helpless, not knowing if we would have a home to return to. As I sit here now, in my home, evacuation lifted, I am so grateful and blessed but also guilty and devastated. We made it out. We were unharmed. Our house is standing. We are SO lucky and a lot of others are not. I want to help those in need. I left water out for all of the wild animals that lost their home. I am just so sad and want to feel normal again. Schools are closed until after Thanksgiving due to smoke and debris damage, it’s just surreal. BUT, this had awoken me in a way that I have never been before. All the silly things I used to worry about, just don’t matter. Auditions, bookings, people that bothered me. So trivial when your home and your family’s safety is in jeopardy. I just feel SO lucky and grateful. Hugs to all and stay safe and mindful. Thank you Wendy for posting this. I really really needed it. -Cindy

    Reply

  • Isabella #4

    What a beautiful post, Wendy. My heart aches for California, and I’m so glad to hear that you and your family are safe. I just learned yesterday that a friend lost their house to the fire… I had been to their beautiful home, and I knew how much love they had put into building it, only for it to be burned away. As someone who has lost nearly all of her physical possessions at one point, I know how painful it can be, but I also know how clarifying it can be to show us what truly matters most to us. Your family’s safety is wonderful news amidst the chaos and tragedy.

    Reply

  • Pamela Hill #5

    Thank you Wendy for your beautiful post and guided meditation! My husband William and I look forward to seeing you on Dec 2nd! Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Blessings, Pamela & William

    Reply

  • Jay Santiago #6

    My prayers for you and your family and your community. God Bless you all.

    Reply

  • Joshua Hooks #7

    You’re insanely strong, caring, and are an inspiration.My thoughts go out to you, your family & friends, and a happy return to your home. No matter what happens, you’ll have you, your family, and your mindset to rebuild and repair any physical damage done. The most important things in life are not things. Thank you for the audio!

    Reply

  • Cailin #8

    Hi, Wendy,
    So glad you are all safe! Senidng my wishes for peace and comfort to everyone. It’s a further testament to your character that you would offer this beautiful gift during such a challenging time.
    Thank you for your grace, Wendy!

    Reply

  • Judith Maxie #9

    Oh dear Wendy. Thank you for the “light, love, kindness and connection” that has inclined you to share this experience you are in the midst of. Because of your work and blog we feel a kinship with you and your family and thus are deeply moved. Hold fast to your blessed courage and calm. And thank you for using this moment to remind us of what really matters. Our deepest thoughts and prayers are with you and yours.

    Reply

  • Janet Wood #10

    Dear sweet Wendy,

    What a weekend you’ve been through. Yes, so many friends were affected by the fires but you went through it personally. Emotions run so high and love fills in the spaces after fear is released. I send you so much love and am very grateful that your home was spared. Our home was totaled during the big earthquake so I understand about “stuff.” But a fire obliterates everything. Take care and know that you are loved my so many, including me. ❤️

    Reply

  • Barbara #11

    Sending you loving healing energy in this trying time. Glad your are safe.

    Reply

  • Risa #12

    Warrior woman. And soul heroine. Thank u!

    Reply

  • Kaylie Ringer #13

    I am sending prayers and love your way during this time.

    Reply

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