regrowth from the ashes

Sunset over the hills of Sonoma, CA with the full moon visible.


Some people have March Madness, I have October Madness, and it’s way less fun. For the past two years October has left me in complete burnout. I have entered November craving time alone to rest, reflect, and refill my well so to speak. Last year I searched for new roommates while spending the month traveling back and forth to the middle of Washington to help my sister recover from a climbing accident. I thought, ok, this is the most stressful month of my life, but at least next year will be easier. Wrong.

This past October, I began the month knowing it would be a difficult road ahead but I had laid a plan and was ready to tackle the month one day at a time. Then, one Monday morning, I awoke to no power in my Napa home and an inbox full of alerts about fire evacuations. This Monday had been set aside for wedding edits, which couldn’t happen without power. Luckily, since I was moving in with my boyfriend, I decided that Monday was now move in day. In the thick smoke forming outside, I packed my computer and every hard drive I own into my car, along with any other valuables that would fit.

Safely set up in my new place down in Tiburon, I tried to go about business as usual. Despite my desire to focus though, my attention was constantly split between work and checking Nixle and Facebook for updates on the fire. Holding my breath to see if my area would be evacuated. Finally, on Friday, I decided to venture back to Napa to pack up more of my things from the old place. Armed with my face masks for the smoke, I drove through the hills, now blackened by the fires that had rolled swiftly through all the dry brush.

It was a sobering view to see the golden hills I love now reduced to soot. Cows roaming across the dark earth to find any small patch of still edible grass.

Somewhere outside Sonoma, there began to emerge signs. On roadside fences, outside of the wineries, stapled to phone polls. Bright and colorful homemade signs, expressing gratitude and well wishes to all of the first responders fighting to keep our homes and businesses safe. My sadness soon dissolved into love, feeling the warmth of the community around me. This feeling of community strength also echoed in my personal life. My friends and roommate were so helpful and supportive through this process. During both October Madness marathons they were my lifelines and, as awful as it was, I have never felt such an overwhelming sense of love and support from the community I have created over the years. The following days and weeks I had the opportunity to pay it forward and help a few fire victims begin again by donating excess household items. Hearing their stories gave me a greater sense of gratitude for everything that I have and kept me grounded during the hectic final days of my move.

Now, 3 weeks later, I’m unpacking the last of the boxes and feeling more settled. Ready to begin getting back to business as usual. When I drive back into Napa, I get to see the green grass breaking through the burnt remains of the fires. Rain is bringing the hills back to life and it feels so symbolic of my own process of recovery from my fall burnout.

In the end, I have to be grateful for these challenges. Times like this show you how strong you are and give you confidence to face whatever life throws at you. I would, however, like to put in a request for a much calmer October next year. Please and thank you. 🙂