So many of you have written to me of your feelings of helplessness in witnessing the devastation caused by the Lake County fires and wondering how you can help. I have been feeling helpless too, so in a meditation, I asked how I could be of support today and this came through. At the end of this post, I share a simple way to move through your emotions and feelings of collective grief. I hope this offers you some comfort and release. It helped to ground me today.
As someone who survived a fire evacuation in 1994 in Colorado, during the Storm King Fire, one worst fires in history, where 14 firefighters lost their lives, trying to save our community, I understand first hand, what it feels like to wonder if you have seen the last of your home, your pets and your possessions. Anxiety and grief, do not cover it.
When fire season started that summer-an annual and inevitable event-I made a list of things I would take in case a fire broke out. I don’t know why I did that. I’d never done it before. I set it on my desktop, so I wouldn’t have to “think” about it if the time came. At the time I was living in a log cabin, on an acre of land, surrounded by BLM wilderness.
I had left Colorado and was in Florida, as my grandmother had passed away. It was literally during her funeral when the calls came. One call after another, back to back. I knew something was terribly wrong. Finally, I saw my husbands number, “I don’t want you to worry, I’m fine and I have Feats (our dog), the fire has exploded, we’ve been evacuated, I took what I could.”
Fire? What fire? I’d been so consumed with supporting my mom, I had no idea that a fire had broken out in our town. My husband didn’t want to worry me and thought it would be easily snuffed out. It started from a lightening strike, initially burning only 3 acres. There was a riverbed and a highway between the fire and our home. By the time it jumped the riverbed, 14 men and women had perished and blaze began climbing the hillside behind our home.
This is the trouble with fire. It doesn’t stay put. It’s moving target and the laws of nature will take it where it wants to go.
My ex-husband never knew about my list, but somehow intuited what would be important to me, my journals, my computer and my family photographs were my priority. When it came down to it, there were only 5 things on that list, all of them deeply personal and of sentimental value. He got them all. It’s interesting when it comes right down to it…what’s important to us…really. We were “lucky” that year, but somehow, you don’t feel that way, when carry in your heart the weight of 14 lives and so many others who weren’t as “fortunate”
Survivors guilt; it’s a heavy burden.
I still have no idea how those men and women stopped that fire where they did. When I returned home to see the fires path and the charred remains of homes and the landscape, it seemed nothing short of a miracle.
There are really no words that can accurately describe the feelings of gratitude to those who put their lives on the line every day in this way.
I’ve been unsettled since Saturday, anxious with a heavy heart. I’ve been trying to find ways to help and volunteer. I have calls in to several places, but haven’t heard back from anyone. I think it might be time to just get in the car and go, but I don’t want to be an added burden when there is already so much chaos.
I knew it was time to move some energy and the only way I know how to do this is through imagery. I wanted to share this with all of you today, in case you need a way to move through the collective grief we are all carrying as we lay witness to this tragedy and the devastation of families, of businesses, of towns, of forests, of animals and of plant life.
5 Simple Steps to Moving Emotion Through Creative Expression: Energy in Motion
1. Find a piece of paper. It doesn’t matter what kind. Newspaper will do.
2. Find something you can write with, draw with, finger paint with. Crayons, food coloring, house paint will do.
3. Find a quiet space. Take a moment and breathe into your body.
4. What are you feeling? Let the emotion surface. Breathe.
5. Now, open your eyes and choose a color, the first color that speaks to you. Let the energy flow through your hand.
This isn’t about creating a pretty picture. This is about expression.
FEEL IT! MOVE IT! CRY! SCREAM! Whatever you FEEL is YOUR TRUTH! LET IT RIP!
AFTERWARD: Some things you can do after you complete your image is to write, move or dialogue with your image. This will give you a new perspective and help you feel some closure.
This is my image for today. It was created in less than 5 minutes with chalk pastels. It doesn’t take long to move a feeling.
It’s Untitled…because I have no words…