When fires roar through our lives leaving destruction in their wake, those of us who have walked through this type of loss are often asked how it was to deal with such an event.  I responded by writing this blog and I share it knowing we...

“Whether we are conscious of it or not, the ground is always shifting. Nothing lasts, including us. there are probably very few people who, at any given time, are consumed with the idea ‘I’m going to die,’ but there is plenty of evidence that this...

At 5:30 on September 14th, it looked unlikely. Gasping for breath with pain in my chest, I watched my friends seem to skip up the trail and wondered if I had it in me. Panic set in. Only once before had that happened. Climbing a smaller mountain with my husband last summer, I couldn’t catch my breath and began to panic. I have always been able to count on my conditioning. Athletic all my life, I have maintained a fitness level without a ton of effort. Even after periods of laziness, I could get back in shape quickly. Accepting the invitation to climb a 14ner with dear friends, I threw myself into a month long training after a period of sporadic hiking during our build. Between that and my natural conditioning, I knew it would be tough but I figured I could do it. Of course occasionally, I wanted to bow out from laziness and some trepidation – maybe I will come down with a cold, maybe the weather will stop us, maybe my friends will cancel… The night before I tossed and turned for hours. When the wake up came at 3:40am, I was beyond groggy. Starting on the trail at dark was magical, the stars were our guide and I kept my headlamp off to feel the dark around me. Starting fast felt fine – for a minute – and then before I could say anything the shortness of breath and pain in my chest began. Immediately I did what any good perfectionist will do, I made myself wrong lamenting how it used to be, worrying about disappointing my friends, being embarrassed about my lack of conditioning compared to theirs mixed in with panic at not being able to breathe. I let them know of my struggles and we slowed our pace but at barely past the trailhead, I wondered how I would make the ascent.  
Where did the pink go? I sit and watch the sun begin to shine a rosy pink on the peaks around me. I anticipate the glow growing warmer and warmer then suddenly the light is gone. Where did it go? The light still exists but it is blocked by something at the moment, something just out of my view on the horizon. A cloud miles away obscuring the sun, perhaps. I crave to continue my worship of the pink glow but the minute the thing becomes the thing it is no longer that. I forget that magic is all around us. We crave big fiery demonstrations of magic where it’s unmistakable - and inconceivable that it could be anything else but proof of what we long for. How close are we willing to look? How quietly are we willing to listen? I look out because that’s where the view is but what if I look to the weeds sprouting up between the rocks? The pile of dirt my dogs dug up? The petals on the mountain flower?2010-06-28 (Big Purple Thistle) The pink begins to return in new places. To look out reminds me of expansiveness. To look closely reminds me of focus and of being in the moment.

“It’s a good day to die”, I say to my seatmate. Not my usual opening line but one I feel strongly about today. Tomorrow may be a different story, as normally, I am not a big fan of dying. A sense of peace and clarity...

Fingers to keyboard is my mantra for my new authors. Fingers to keyboard. And keep those fingers moving. And keep your eyes on the screen. Not on Facebook as I am doing right now...

On an island, far far away from any mountains that remind me of anything to do with the awful forest fires that consumed our state and turned my life upside down, I received an email from a kindred spirit. She wrote, “I stumbled upon your blog when I was researching PTSD and forest fires. I was looking for anything that would tell me I was somewhat normal in what I was experiencing.” She goes on to tell me she lost her home in the Waldo Canyon fire and thanked me for letting me know she wasn’t alone in her devastation. This many miles away, I was compelled to write and tell you - I needed to hear this. I send my words into the stratosphere and wonder whose hearts I might be reaching. I keep writing anyway as it is my therapy and expression. I risk writing the same things over and over and boring my readers. I risk my heart and soul as I bare both. I feel my feelings and question if I am “normal”. I still have some (not many, but some) people in my life who think I should be moving on by now and that the depth of my emotions are concerning. I internalize their judgment (and, yes I know, it is born out of love and concern) and judge myself. Not that I needed any more judgmental voices to model as I have plenty of my own. I should be... I shouldn’t be... should should should. Here I am in paradise and I shouldn’t shed a tear. Being in paradise I should always, every moment of every second, be grateful. I should realize that this too is my life and I should marvel at the wonder of it all. Always.
Our much awaited trip has begun. So many people asked if we were excited. Of course we are. And, it is much more complicated than that. We are excited. And, we are exhausted, burned out, done. After months of responding and reacting to our new life, we don’t quite know how to relax. We silly humans have the expectation that once on vacation relaxation will just happen. It depends on how wound up you are, really. We were (and still are) wound tight. Exhaustion hangs in the nooks and crannies of our being in ways we don’t even realize yet. David hasn’t really stopped this whole time. His travel schedule has been hellacious as he commuted to Seattle regularly and worked on the most demanding project of his career. Our brief stop over to be with my mom will carry some work hours for me. I am talking to a handful of clients to get them set up for our time apart. And, David and I need to work on our inventory with the now fading goal of turning it in before we go. And, I still had the goal of turning in my re-write before wheels up in Ft. Lauderdale on Thursday. Hmmmmm. I definitely don’t know about that one. My cohort Ellen is on a tight deadline, working on chapters, sending to me with the plan that we work in tandem towards this goal. She edits, I accept or rethink and rewrite. She adds prompts for me to write more. At this moment, I am not sure I can do it. Have I mentioned the exhaustion? Lying in bed this morning, I thought about grief. For us folks not grieving the loss of a human, we don’t really have a rule book. Yet, we exist. And, we grieve. And, we question whether we are doing it right. In ways, I feel more raw then ever. Thinner skinned, more sad, certainly more disjointed as we pack yet again and wonder where we will land when we return. Wandering around my mom’s house I see mementos of her life and of our life. Gifts I have given her, pictures of us, cards and letters - and objects that she has had as long as I can remember. This is what it looks like to be in a home filled with memories.
Friendship. Kindness. Love. Connection. These are the things that get us through. Moments of contact with another human being; the willingness to stop for a moment and be with each other without agenda; snuggling on a couch; walking holding hands; a random phone from a busy concert just to check in. These make my world go round in the best way. The chaotic spin shifts to normal rotation. My head stays glued to my neck versus flying off into space. My soul is fed versus slinking away to die. Monday I went to Boulder to see Linda my dear friend from Florida whom I have known since 1990. Linda has been there thick and thin through many stages of life. And, even more importantly she loves my dogs as her own and made frequent trips to Colorado to house and dog sit when we traveled, sometimes not even seeing me. This is the first trip she had to stay elsewhere. We met in Boulder to do our usual routine of consignment store shopping, strolling and talking. I was particularly grumpy, sure at this point that a wicked case of PMS, that robs me of the ability to see or experience anything good, has become my new monthly visitor. Angsty, coming out of my skin and seriously not wanting to be around people and after a hellacious headache socked in at 10am, I began finding excuses not to make the trip to Boulder. Not only was it Linda’s last day, but I had suggested the dinner with my other Abundance circle sisters. Denise was driving from Denver and Shaya was making the vittles. Committed not to back out on my friends, I drove on. My funk took a while to lift but somewhere in the Whole Foods gourmet aisle after tasting a wafer cracker with mint jalapeño pesto, the clouds lifted. Yes, my blood sugar has been whacked - but this small sampling couldn’t have completely fixed this issue. Was it magic? Was it Boulder which is as they say “between reality and the mountains”? Suddenly, I could be with my friends. Still considered a “flight risk”, I buddied up until we arrived safely at Shaya’s where we spread out the food, sampled delicacies and I sprawled on the couch in my favorite position.
A-funk-a-fied. That is a word. Don’t test me by telling me it isn’t. Two days of serious funk and no writing. Hmmmm. Help me do the math here. The plan was to work on my book when I am not blogging and that plan has been thwarted. Drats foiled yet again. This is a scientific experiment: how will I feel this afternoon after writing compared to my mood over the past 2 days with no writing... we shall see. I will not factor in the fact that we are seeing Face tonight in Boulder. No, I will determine my post-writing mood independent of that extraneous event. Should be a simple equation. As previously stated, this moodiness t feels like a bad case of PMS. And, it could be “that time” coupled with the fact that on the 50 side of my mid-40’s I may be entering peri-menopause which I have heard carries many many joys. Especially the “Urine leakage while coughing or sneezing.” Not. I have been agro to the max; short on patience, long on reactivity, thin-skinned and excessively tired. Overcast with only small glimpses of occasional sun to remind me it still exists. Although, these days in Colorado we no longer celebrate the sun. We now do rain dances across the state and pray for Seattle slop. And, the rain gods have been kind to us recently. The metro area is cooler than it’s been and our foothills have been getting somewhat regular baths. Of course, these baths bring lightening strikes which have started a few brush fires and caused panic among my neighbors but so far so good. No new fires in our backyard.