Essential life lessons come in unexpected forms. Events that shake us to our core are often needed to shift us into a state of hope, compassion, grace, love and resilience. Here is my story of my road trip through hope and resilience.
I have been traveling throughout Northern California since July 27th fleeing the devasting Carr fire and encountering other catastrophic fires across the state. The fragility of my health due to heart conditions has kept me away from the toxic smoke. When I packed up and fled from Redding, I packed my essential belongings in the car – my research, publications, family memorabilia, two laptops, external drives, a couple of books, clothes, food for the dogs and for me, a picnic backpack set for dishes and my beloved pets, Dottie and Maestro. I took a video of everything in the apartment for insurance purposes, thanked my home, wished it safety, offered the prayer of letting it be as it should, and drove off.
August 5th marked my one-year anniversary of my transformative road trip from Cleveland, Ohio to my new home in Redding, California. This year on August 5th I reflected on the road trip I have been on and the powerful differences from last years’ experience. I started this odyssey by traveling south to Corning, and when the smoke arrived there, I went further south to Roseville for a few days. Upon arrival, the air was clean. And then, the smoke arrived. However, the kindnesses of people kept me full of hope and gratitude and resilience. I felt so supported by my fellow men and women.
This set me off to Mariposa where I was supposed to stay in an Airbnb. However, when I arrived at the place, it was too secluded nestled up in the mountains off a dirt road and my gut instinct told me it would not be safe. Cell service there was spotty and there was no one around. Going back toward town I saw a Best Western and pulled right in. And yes, they had a room! Wonderful peaceful 2 nights there, and then, the smoke from the Ferguson fire came in and enveloped the town. Once again, the kindnesses of the people there lifted me up and fueled me with hope, gratitude and resilience.
Packing the car, my head was splitting open from the toxins and particles were dropping on my car as they had done in every other town when it was time to leave. Not knowing where to travel next, my instinct told me to go to the coast. So, on Saturday, August 4th I drove to Oakland and stayed at a hotel near the airport as it was more affordable than in town. But by now, I was growing weary and worried about continuing expenses of paying for hotels.
I meditated, asking for guidance and I posted on Facebook asking for help in finding a place where I could stay for a while with a host. The outpouring of messages and contacts was overwhelming for me and, the next morning, I placed a phone call to the brother of one of my Redding friends. He and his wife have a guest house at their place near the shores of Mendocino and yes, it was available. They welcomed me and my two pups and said I could stay until it was safe to return home. Today, August 7th, is day 12 of this odyssey and I am in this safe haven for now. I am so blessed. Once again, my cup overflows with hope, gratitude and resilience.
The gratitude in my heart for their kindness, generosity and compassion is boundless, along with the gratitude for so many, many kind people I have met on this journey. Many times people quietly paid for my tab, wishing me safety and best of luck, reached out and gave me hugs, or offered discounts at the hotels.
I see the beautiful hearts of so many who are sharing with me and the thousands who are experiencing such devastation at one level, meeting us with hope, grace and resilience to lift us up and carry us on. This experience continues to humble me. It shifts your perspective on a deep, transformative level of what is really important in life.
At every moment we have a choice point of how to respond and how to feel. Going through such catastrophic events presents us with the choice point of giving up, feelings of “why me,” or the other side of compassion, acts of kindness in community, hope and resilience. Yes, these lessons come hard, but growing through them is so essential for all of our highest and greatest good. Source, God, and Spirit guide and protect us and answer when called upon. We are not in this alone. The earth is crying for transformation too. We can do this. We can transform, unite and rebuild together united by hope, gratitude, compassion, love and resilience.