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.
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.
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,