How to navigate these fires and all the grief…

"How to navigate these fires and all the grief…"

I wanted to reach out and share a personal story and revelation about these fires and what we can do in times of such grief, especially moving into Thanksgiving.

This past week I’ve been feeling the devastation all around us. I feel the smoke in my body and in each breath. I feel the collective grief in my lungs. I’m aware that we are breathing in loss, peoples homes, their lives, and our trees.

I’ve been asking myself questions like, how do I still show up when all of this is going on? What do we do? How do I lead knowing that we are all feeling this pain, whether we can name it or not?

Honestly, sometimes I want to stop everything, run away, and hide.

And then Saturday night I was reminded of the medicine of JOY.

My friend had a birthday party. I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay huddled and protected in my little home with my little family.

But something inside me nudged me to go anyway. I heard a voice say, “This is your community, your friends, your kids will love it there. There will be music and love. Go.”

And so I went.

And it was the very best medicine. Here’s why…

Together as a community, we huddled in the comfort of a friend’s living room. We were all aware of the smoke outside. We had air purifiers blowing in each room. I saw masks resting on top of purses by the doors. We each spoke quietly of how we were being affected.

But we gathered anyway. The kids huddled downstairs watching a movie, playing, and laughing, and the adults hung out talking and sharing.

And then the music started.

Real live music. With guitars and drums and amazing voices. We sang our hearts out to “American Girl,” “Hotel California,” and “Stand by Me.”

We sang at the top of our lungs. Everyone was singing! Babies were dancing, couples were playing, Joy was happening.

And here’s what I felt in that room…. we didn’t pretend that the smoke wasn’t there. We didn’t turn away from everything happening outside. We acknowledged it all, and sang together, as loud as we could, FOR it.

We made joy and the music was our medicine.

And so I got this… especially in the pain and grief, we need to find ways to huddle together and make Joy. True honest conscious Joy. The kind where children come out and sing and dance alongside us. Because in that space, Joy feels like a prayer.

And we need all the prayers we can get.

How can you celebrate today? How can you make a little Joy happen? How can you make joy a part of your holiday?

Sending big hugs.


Michelle Long, MA
Founder of The Practice® 

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