“How is life after the fire? It must be bizarre”,
is what my friends ask me on a daily basis.
Dear friends from afar I hear your questions. Yes, it is bizarre.
Stunning and ugly live next to each other right now. The part of Santa Rosa we live in is untouched by the fire. Yes, that is magic, unbelievable magic. All the shops I go to survived including the area around the college. And right next to it is what you saw on TV. Unnerving scenes. I pass by. I don't go close.
What I do get close to are the people. The fires taught me to reach out to my community. Invite a conversation, even so, I think I have no time. That is wrong. I now make that my priority.
The hill across from us holds witness to just how close the devastation of our livelihood was. If you look up the hill, the black patches between the trees burned by the fire can be overlooked. But we who live here know, the fire was that close.
The rotten smell of old smoke in the air betrays the scene around us.
The ashes are still showing up in hidden places. The masks we all have in our cars, homes, and purses remind us - the fire was real and scary. Every day a message from the sheriff peeps on my phone. Another area of Santa Rosa is opened for re-entry. Helicopters are still in the sky several times a day. I salute them each time.
When we needed to evacuate the fireman who watched us throw stuff in our car answered my: “Do we have a chance?” with a scary show of his hand. He gestured one inch. The winds were blowing the fire in our direction.
What the firefighters accomplished in the next hours by bulldozing a fire line across the mountain is mind-blowing. Our whole neighborhood stands strong because of it. The fire could not cross that line.
Our treasured hikes in Annabel Park are different now. Unreal. To the left the beauty of the land is stunning, to the right it’s a scary stinky skeleton the fire left behind.
We are reminded every minute just how sacred our life is.
Life is knocking on our hearts holding us accountable to live with great honesty and care for our selves and with new importance to care for others.
I am by nature and by a lifelong practice of inquiry on a path of embracing of “what is”. The emergency we were in for a few days threatened that. It's like the ground I was standing on did not support me anymore. I was afraid I couldn't hold it all together for us. Especially for Sarina.
The gifts of a yogi, of a daily practice of mindfulness in all areas of life, train our nervous system to recover faster when strong emotions like fear hit us. We bounce back. We automatically remember to breathe, we are turning back to equanimity quicker.
It does work. That's why I sharpen my tools daily and remind myself to go out and share it with the world. Please do practice. Your energy account cannot be full enough.
Dear friends, Santa Rosa sits on a stunning piece of land with strong people. It’s my soul place. It has been from the moment I moved here.
I will help heal its wounds. I have tools to share. Paying attention to the breath doesn't need a yoga mat. We can pause everywhere and nourish ourselves with a couple of breath. We can practice the quality of Mountain Pose everywhere we stand. Over the counter kind of mindfulness. It's precious. I taught it to a woman at the dry cleaner. Can you imagine? Changing lives on the go🦋.
I am strong. I kick ass if I need to...😌...are you surprised?
My home I love so dearly survived. Adam🌳, Victor🌳, and Hugo🌳 did. Sarina's college did.
What’s burned and is missing will remind me to celebrate what I have. I am tapping into my source. I will achieve my dreams. Nothing will chain me. Please follow me!
With love, Manuela
PS: you can visit my Facebook page to see more photos
I stretched my comfort zone on Sunday. I went life on Facebook.
A scary thing for me to do. But how will we grow if we don’t challenge ourselves? I like to look my resistance in the eye and do what I’m afraid of. I like to taste lives amazing richness.
At first, the fear devils showed up. What if, what if not… blablabla. But I felt way too good in my skin to listen to them. I made the conscious and spontaneous decision to push the life button. I always wanted to!😇.
I want to show up in my life. Share with my friends what I experience, what I learn as I go.
I knew what I was feeling is something most of us often crave:
The feeling of EASE supported by the feeling of being grounded.
Both bring deep joy.
I felt deeply relaxed and connected to my breath and at the same time vibrantly alive. It is life changing state of being. Crowned by the quality of effortlessness today it was the “I-will-change-the-world-kind-of-feeling” for me.
And I wasn’t even on my yoga mat!
I received this gift the moment my daughter Sarina left the house with her new friend. Off to do something fun. I have been praying for this. Visualizing it on a daily basis. A mother's heart will always ache if it’s loneliness she witnesses in her child. No matter her age.
I took this joy to my yoga room. That’s where I grow the seeds to the life I want to live. I know ease and bliss will not just handed to me. I have to show up for what we want.
In the yoga language, ease and steadiness are the first two qualities we learn. If our posture is steady and at ease, our breath can flow freely. Our brain can relax.
With all this in mind I pushed the life button on my phone and shared.
“Dear future empire, here I come.” Of course with my 👑 on!
A very humbling experience at first - but all so uplifting as I quickly forgot my fear.
I recommend you try it out. Or - if this isn’t your thing 💗find something in your life you are shying away from and take the risk to do it. The extra heartbeat feels delicious. Do it now. Don't wait!
Everything I mentioned above are qualities of a Yogi. Everybody can learn to grow them on the mat.
Find a teacher who knows how to create an experience that soothes your nervous system. Rather than irritates it. Where doing is replaced by feeling and by the art of receiving.
Slow and deep breath are our nervous system’s best friends.
Yoga is an inward journey. And so is happiness. Peace comes from being completely present. Not by rushing from one thing to the next.
That's how being 'life' today felt to me.
Do you know that our nervous system is our communicator with spirit? I heard someone speak about this a couple of years ago. He said:
“An agitated nervous system fails to receive our spirit’s guidance. Just as a warped antenna cannot receive television signals properly.”
I have been embracing yogas gifts for over thirty years. Practicing it mindfully is important to me.
Let’s not reduce our yoga practice to one more thing we check off our list. To become one more hectic episode in our lives.
Let's practice, let's be brave and authentic and stretch our comfort zone. I promise you it will help transform your life!
I went to sleep that night with this amazing feeling of deep joy and gratefulness for this day.
And then it was Monday.
Las Vegas shattered us to the ground.
The tragic, the pain, the horror, the helplessness delivered the exact opposite feelings. All I felt on Sunday turned into a wrenched up gut and a weeping heart.
My daughter was very disturbed. "How I am supposed to feel about this?" Being an activist as a person with special needs makes her extra vulnerable.
I didn’t have an answer for her.
We feel peaceful only if we feel safe. I searched my heart, how could I support her?
And I remembered my practice. The feeling I so cherished yesterday. I remembered the power of the breath together with the feeling of ease that comes with it.
One deep and slow breath can get us off the roller coaster of fear and defeat and into a moment of inner peace. How we speak, feel, act is different in this state.
This is the deeper goal of yoga. No matter what happens on the outside, I can tap into my inner spirit. And be at peace.
Even in the midst of deep tragedy, we can remember to breathe.
No, breathing does not take away the pain. But with each slow and deep breath, we can help our fearfully beating heart to slow down. We can help our nervous system to stay calm.
We must remember that. It is our duty to care for body, our mind and our soul.
We must connect to our breath and learn to witness the influence it has on who we are and how we do what we do.
I know this might sound all too simple for someone new to Yoga.
It is not. It's the most powerful gift I can share.
And, in the conversation with my daughter, something else was clear:
Showing up and standing up is no longer a luxury or an ideal. It's becoming critical. Our voices and each of our actions count. We cannot afford to look the other way.
I need to get involved more deeply in healing myself and our earth. I owe this to my daughter. And to all the generations following us.
Growing and offering my skills to my tribe and sharing my story is not an option anymore.
💗Think of a small or large difference you can make today by stepping out of your comfort zone. Give someone a hand, a smile, a friendly world and forgive someone. Our world needs you!
I am holding my hands in front of my heart, I bow my head to all the people who lost their lives and the once suffering in the face of this tragedy.