Writing became such a process of discovery that I couldn't wait to get to work in the morning:  I wanted to know what I was going to say.  
~Sharon O'Brien
Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk about writing for a solid hour on a tele-seminar hosted by the fabulous Kym Coco.  She inquired about my journey of becoming a writer; the benefits of a writing practice; how writing has changed my life; common beliefs that keep people from writing; and how writing could be an access to realizing our potential.  I could have talked for hours on this subject and Kym masterfully pulled the points from my long-winded and passion-filled answers.
The day before I began writing my first book, Waiting for Jack, I was not a writer.  And, it took me years to actually call myself a writer.  I was becoming an author but being a “writer” seemed to be some elite category where I had to earn membership.  And maybe that’s true.  At some point in my journey, I began to call myself a writer.  Now, in my blogging, I am getting close to the total word count of my first book.  It took me 9 months to write that and I have only been doing this for 33 days...  I have never been a proponent of speed-writing but I am seeing what is possible when the fire burns hot. 
I received a voicemail a few days ago which in addition to the multitude of other saved messages I have from you people I treasure deeply.  This one I transcribed; these words I needed to hear and to remember.  Thank you Anne Gillespie for saying:
“Stay in the manure as long as you fricken need to.  Anyone who thinks that grief looks pretty and can be tied up in a little box and is linear hasn’t been through it.  Grief is messy and unpredictable and non-linear.  It’s really good one day and like hell the next day.  There is nothing you need to do.”
As long as I fricken need to...  What I want to tell you today is that I just want to go home.  I really really do.  I just want to go to my home.  That home.  The one that is lost forever and now is being scraped away.  That’s what I want.  I want this experiment to be over and things to go back to “normal”.  I want my bed, my sheets, my creaky staircase, and my infestation of stinkbugs in the bedroom.  I want my leopard chairs, my silver spoons that are the perfect size for a serving of agave in my coffee.  I want my beautiful stove, my claw foot tub.  I want my windows.  I want my meditation loft and my purple office.  I want to sit in there and contemplate the world and my life and think about how lucky I am to live in such a place.  That’s what I want. 
After two days of clouds, snow, rain and mist, the sun is shining brightly today.  We have had June weather in March, and now March weather in May.  Seems Mother Nature cannot make up her mind.  This is the joy of Colorado living.
Yesterday, my neighbors and I took our third trip to the Capitol.  This time to testify in front of a Senate committee about the future of what has now become two bills to assist victims of the fire.  After pressure from the press (primarily Channel 7), the Governor, Attorney General and legislators from both sides of the aisle came together in a press conference to declare their desire to work together.  Our testimonies last week in front of the house were very different than last night in front of the senate.  Something was shifting in big government and we could sense it in the room.  Hardened lawmakers were softening up and actually wiping away tears as they listened to our words.  The senators that sponsored the bill both got choked up as they presented their case.  All of us were more emotional too.  Yes we are tired and yes it’s hard to tell the story over and over but it seemed we were even rawer and tears flowed from most of us as we shared in front of this strangely sympathetic group. 
I wrote yesterday but only managed to squeak out 456 words.  Given I have been cranking out an average of a 1000 every time I write, this felt like writing failure.  And, I couldn’t quite “finish” the piece so I ended up abandoning it and going dress shopping (more on that in a minute). 
Now I have 39 minutes to write this post and get it out there.  I really want to keep my morning writing routine.  At 6:51, I am getting a later start than usual and need to leave the house at 7:30.  Pressure.  Writing under pressure doesn’t flow so well.  Writing what comes to me as I sit is very different than writing on a prescribed topic or under a time limit.  Yesterday, I began (again) my challenge of re-writing my book Waiting for Jack.  And, yesterday on my second attempt since the fire, I went down many paths none of which lead to many words on the page.  I took a drive into town, got breakfast at Einstein’s, took the garbage out, browsed house plan books and websites.  And, I was very very sleepy.  I had planned to write all day yet it took me until 10am to even sit in front of the computer.  A rusty 456 words later, I still wasn’t getting anywhere.  I did do some cleaning of my email inbox however. 
I love the comments I received from yesterday’s blog.  They came from near and far and brightened my heart this morning.  I awoke – and fell asleep last night – in a dark place.  I am more tired than I have ever been in my life.  “Tired” has been my M.O. for much of my life.  It is my shield against the world, my response to “how are you doing?” and a catch-all for many conflicting emotions.  This is a whole new level of tired.  My muscles ache as I walk up hills, my face feels heavy and full, I am short of breath.  Charming, huh?
Yesterday, we made final trash piles on our land to prepare for the bulldozers next week so we can take the next step of moving our trailer to the site to live “at home”.  I love this plan – and I hope it works.  Those dang dogs decided to range while we were cleaning up.  Thinking they had merely passed from sight over a nearby ridge, I began calling them, gently at first.  Given we now have no trees, I was able to spot them way too far in the distance.  Now screaming their names into their selectively deaf ears, I had to hike across acres of blackness to get near them.  Of course, by the time I got to where I had initially seen them, they had moved even further.  I finally was able to waken them from their fantasy of escape and hauled them back to the car.  They were coated in ash, wearing black soot socks and zebra stripes across their bodies.  Just how will we deal with the mess in our trailer, I ponder. 
I love my husband.  He was up before the sun, making coffee and writing his blog (www.northforkashes.com) – and these are not the only reasons I love him.  I love him because he is a very good man.  He is someone I am proud to go through this life with.  Besides our melee on Sunday, we really haven’t fought during this stressful time.  We have pulled together and are walking through this side by side. 
We have more space for each other than usual.  In the regular course of events, we get along well but often have little spats that sound like, “you stepped on my toe”, “no, you stepped on mine!” “Well, you did it first…” Or some equally ridiculous argument that most couples engage in.  We haven’t been doing that recently. 
I look into his tired eyes and see my own.  I read his thoughtful words and allow them to alter me.  I watch him cry as he thinks about how lucky I was to get out alive and the tragedy of the loss of our neighbors.  He pats my head when I am too tired to think and the world seems very very dark.  We crack up at each others jokes no matter how bad they are.  And we experience pure joy as we watch our dogs ongoing antics – the ultimate proof of goodness in life. 
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. 
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead
What will this day hold?  More letters to the Governor?  Sifting through emotional ashes?  Meetings with attorneys?  Writing insurance inventory?  Maybe a walk with the dogs?  Then falling into bed at the end of the day exhausted yet waking up before the sun far from rested?  I wonder.
Except for a few precious things, my life is unrecognizable from before.  Fortunately, I do have the same friends – and even more than before, I must say.  My friends carry me when I want to stop.  Two of my dearest have shared their letters they wrote to the Governor they both voted for yet now are dismayed to watch him shrug his shoulders and shirk his responsibility.  I am beyond touched by their words.   
Yesterday, around 30 neighbors and families attended a hearing at the Capitol on proposed House Bill 32 152, which would raise caps for compensation for fire victims.  Representative Cheri Gerou (a mountain area resident) co-sponsored the bill with Representative Bob Gardner.
I haven’t been to the Capital since college.  The building is beautiful and Gerou and Gardner chose to have the hearing held in the old Supreme Court chambers, an elegant vaulted room with towering stain glass images of original Colorado settlers.  The room was perfect as we discussed our fine state and what it stood for: the Wild West tamed for habitation infused with the spirit of independence formed by a community of like-minded people.
The words “by the people for the people” emerge from the fog of my formative years.  I googled this to recall the source: Lincoln’s famous quote from the Gettysburg address. “…this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
After smiling the day before, I hoped yesterday would be filled with smiles as well.  Not so much.  The day started out well.  We were invited to dear friends for breakfast and then planned to go to our 12-Step meeting.  Somewhere in that lovely plan, things went awry.
When we think about our future, some of the planning is fun, up to a certain point.  Then one of the many roadblocks comes into view and everything quickly seems dismal.  Given the large amount of unknowns regarding where we are in the process with our insurance company, what our final options may be, or even where we want to be, nothingis certain.  And, due to the instability and upheaval of the last month, it is relatively easy to come unhinged.  Yesterday David said, “We are held together right now by bailing wire and chewing gum”.
Yesterday we smiled.  Not that we haven’t smiled at all during the last month but the smiles previously were fleeting and slight.  Yesterday we smiled a lot.  As we scrambled to get out of the house to meet the Fire Marshall, we bumped into each other, our non-existent patience worn thin.  I had a conference call to start my authors on their writing day – another one I wouldn’t be joining – and begged their forgiveness as I adjusted the time to make our important appointment.
When we arrived, we were greeted by a group of neighbors, Randy the Fire Marshall, Kate from the County, Sean from Planning and Zoning and Dan from the Fire Department – with a shiny red fire truck.  Although the sun was shining, a biting wind chilled us to our core as we stood and waited for the bad news to begin.  This meeting was to detail our “options” around improving our road.  We had received the news that due to the poor condition of our private roads, unless we brought them up to snuff, we would not have rights to any future emergency services which would prohibit the desire of any insurance company to insure us again (if they ever would anyway…).  This was very bad news when we first got wind of it.  A major roadblock in our future plans with a giant price tag attached.