A Bit About My Experience of the Thomas Fire, and Encouragement as this Month, Year, and Season Unfolds….

In my previous article, at the beginning of December, I wrote about “Stringing Together Light-Filled Moments“.

Then, on December 4th, the Thomas Fire began, lighting my hills (including the one I live on) ablaze. (If you’d like more information on the fire, simply Google it; it’s currently rated the largest recorded fire in Ca history, and is still burning as I write this.)

The way the kids and I evacuated that first night (a little after midnight, I was able to come home from my p/t job, after driving through town in complete darkness because the power was out in my town and three towns over in the north and south….. parallel to the hills burning, from my p/t seasonal job to my home, with only enough time to say ‘we have to go now’ so there wasn’t time to pack, just to flee) was traumatic. As we walked together from our home to the car, we could feel the heat of the flames, we could see the fire burning three streets up (and all throughout the hills), we drove parallel to it, through town, out of town….

We were blessed that although hotels were booked many towns over, and it was the middle of the night, that the family of one of my son’s friends took us in. We were blessed that one of our family friends took us in for the rest of the week. We were blessed that no physical fire damage happened to our rented space in a house on the hills (although the smoke damage will take a while to clean up).

Living through this ‘fire experience’ has been an emotional, spiritual and energetic stretch. I haven’t shared much beyond a few posts on FB. I haven’t shared much with friends in life. Part of me is still processing it, part of me is in shock (driving home each day, I see my once lush green hills charred black, and driving through town I see the same – a visual reminder of natural cycles and organic growth, and of the loss of so many homes and of the pain so many are feeling, whether or not they lost their homes).

Prior to the fire, the kids and I were going to move (local); I was looking for a space for us in my budget and in our area. I was working my p/t seasonal job, while applying to permanent full-time jobs, knowing that seasonal one would end.

The fire means there isn’t anywhere in my budget locally to move to (so many families lost their homes, they get ‘first dibs’ – understandably so) and any job I’d apply for now has a myriad of qualified applicants (many people lost their jobs when their place of business burned). If you’ve followed me for a bit, then you know I believe in possibility, I know it’s there to tap into and experience…..*and* even with that, I can physically see and feel limits in the fire aftermath that I didn’t before.

And, it also means that time spent in nature – which lights my heart, soothes my soul, is ‘my church’ of sorts – is limited. The air is full of smoke, ash and debris, which isn’t optimal to breathe in and process. And, all that is in the air, comes into our home (on our shoes, through openings under the door, through vents) which requires constant cleaning. And air purifiers and diffusers are a must to keep the quality of indoor air good (more machines than I prefer inside of my home and more ‘clutter’ in our little living space).

Fire is one of my favorite natural elements to work with. I think you can understand that something within me is processing this devastation from an element I love and work with daily, and no part of me was up to ‘spinning magic’ as this month unfolded (even for Solstice or Christmas or setting New Year’s intentions). And, that’s okay, as I honor my feelings, peace and joy flow through, and as my heart heals, I feel almost ready to spin magic again (and now it will be with a greater understanding, and appreciation of, fire).

So, I didn’t write here in this space. I didn’t share much on social media. I didn’t even journal.

I simply did the work of being present each day, to the variables that kept changing, and of doing my best within those variables to love, encourage and support my children and I through all of this. I knew the trauma was surface. I knew my heart would heal. I knew if I honored silence, I’d find my voice, and creative expression would flow again.

And you can tap into my ‘knowing’ and turn that inward to apply toward any place you’re feeling tender. There doesn’t have to be a rush to understand, for clarity or even for the lesson in whatever you’re experiencing.

If you can focus on meeting yourself with love and compassion. your heart will do its own healing work.

Starting to Heal

One practice I’ve done daily for the past year (and longer) is that each morning I would smudge (using white sage) myself and my space as I chanted the Ganesha chant (which removes obstacles).

I haven’t smudged since December 4th.

So, this morning, I felt like I wanted the energy of smudging without the practice. Not wanting to force the practice, I became curious about the feeling of wanting to create sacred space.

(Wanting to create sacred space, intentionally and joyfully, is a sign for me that I’m healing and my heart is open to possibility. Your sign/s for you likely are different. When you know what they are, you can notice when they are present to get a feel for how open your heart/energy field is.)

With that, I felt the nudge to go clean up my favorite backyard table that I enjoy sitting at and creating from, that was covered with lots of ash and soot from the houses close to mine that burned and from whatever the air was holding.

I did it! I cleaned it up, as I made breakfast. Working in small increments of time, do-able steps, and honoring my feelings.

I brought my journal, my breakfast and my computer to the table and sat down at my freshly cleaned table. I realized the air was still smoky, but I could see patches of blue in the sky and feel sunshine on my face. I had created sacred space for myself again (which is the energy of smudging). The fire hadn’t taken away my ability to do that.

(And you can turn that inwards for yourself – whatever the seed or feel of your heart pain, you always have the ability to connect to source and create the feel of sacred space for yourself!)

I took this photo while sitting at my table, ‘sunbathing’.

I didn’t use a filter; the ‘softness’ is the angle of the sunlight. And, likely a visual of how my heart still feels (soft and tender).

I didn’t stay out there for long. The point was that I cleaned and I sat there for a few moments, and I felt joy and peace in those moments.

(And, that’s how this massive clean-up is happening for me. Bit by bit. Do-able steps, interspersed with lots of joy and light and peace.)

I can’t control the ash. I can’t control the changes the fire has brought. I can, however, honor how I feel about it, as it affects me, and do my best to accept that it’s currently in my life, and work on keeping my heart open to whatever ‘goodness’ will unfold from here. 

Overall, that feels like a good way to close this year and open the new one. With acceptance, compassion, love, peace, joy and trust that something ‘good’ will unfold from here.

Blessings as December unfolds to January, 2017 unfolds to 2018 and Solstice unfolds from one season to the next. <3

As always, thank you for your time and presence!

Much peace,


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Comments on: "A Bit About My Experience of the Thomas Fire, and Encouragement as this Month, Year, and Season Unfolds…." (8)

  1. Joy,

    I am glad to hear your family is safe and healing at this time.

    I love and resonate with your message of honoring how you feel and acceptance of “what is” as you continue to move through your days with presence and open to the power of possibility.

    I wish you peace and continued strength as the new year unfolds!


    • Thank you so much, Molly, for taking the time to read, and for your response.

      Honoring how one feels seems to be pretty ‘radical’ these days as many in mainstream either ignore or deny how they feel or work quickly to shift or transcend it. I’m so glad that what I’ve shared resonates with you.

      Thank you for the peace and strength! May the energies and feelings that support your intentions as this year unfolds to the next, flow easily and joyfully into your daily experience.

  2. Dear Joy:

    I am so glad you are safe and healing.

    My heart rejoiced at reading what you wrote about clearing sacred space and honouring your feelings.

    I couldn’t help but think the ash is like the grief I felt in losing my Dad. I couldn’t control his death or the grief afterwards and it did smoke up every nook and cranny of my heart and somehow little by little and day by day my heart cleared it.

    I am surrounding you and your children with Love, light, strength, abundance, peace and joy as 2017 turns into 2018 and in the year ahead. May all you need be provided in overflowing abundance.

    Love, Tanya

    • I am glad your heart rejoiced, Tanya – *now* my heart is so happy I chose to share this!

      I have heart-tears as I read what you’ve shared, using the ash as a metaphor for grief, and the heart healing that followed. Thank you for sharing that! I feel something similar about the emotional ‘heart-break’ over the first 3/4 of the year while advocating for my daughter; in the most intense moments, I felt pieces of life as I knew it ‘crumble’, and it’s what I had to live with, and through. And, now that creative expression is flowing again, and feels joyful, I can tell my heart has healed (is healing) a bit.

      Thank you for the love, light and strength, abundance, peace and joy – and the beautiful blessing. I wish the same for you.

      So much love!

  3. Dear Joy, I am so glad to hear that your heart is healing and that you actually felt the pull to create sacred space again. You are quite an example for me to follow, in that, you may be knocked off your feet, but, after allowing all the feelings to flow, you find your way back to all of the practices that give you joy and peace. I know this has been one of the scariest and most difficult experiences of your life and your kids’ lives, but you have held onto the practices and ways of being that make your life an open-hearted life based in love and trust. May this new year bring you all abundance, health, peace and joy. <3
    I love you! <3

    • Awww, Jean, thank you so much.

      It’s been true for me that from my first memory on, my faith has been strong, and is the thing I know to connect with and center into as my ‘reactive mode’ (which likely is the reason why peace and joy flow through it all, naturally, and because I cultivate it).

      The fire experience was hard, and also quite an ending to the most heart-wrenching year I’ve had. I think the metaphor (although it was a physical experience) is powerful, and I am still feeling into the lessons and the energy of the fire.

      Thank you for much for the blessing and the love. I love you, too! <3

  4. Here’s to your strength and resilience, dear Joy. In my experience, there’s always something good that can come out of our toughest challenges, even if only more letting be. Know that you are prayed for and loved from afar. ?

    • Thank you so much, Maryse – for your presence and for taking the time to share your kindness via these words!

      I do believe there is ‘goodness’ in everything, at base, and blessings will unfold, from choosing to be present. And, also there was trauma to heal, first (hopefully it’s surface like I think it is) which will make receiving and understanding the blessings easier.

      Thank you for the prayers and love – I believe in the power of both, and greatly appreciate your support!!

      Blessings to your heart and so much love!

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