​“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!

Are you?
🦋

With love, Manuela
​#SantaRosaStrong

PS: you can visit my Facebook page to see more photos