Note: This post was written the week of the Thomas Fire in Ventura/Santa Barbara Counties in California.
This week I have been forced to discover what I value in life, aside from life itself and the lives of people I love (and this includes my dog, Jasmine).
While it was a coincidence, I was on a little week-long retreat in a town about 200 miles north on the coast in Cayucos beginnning Friday, the 1st, when the Thomas Fire started in Ventura the following Tuesday. The second coincidence is that my girlfriend, Marilyn, was scheduled to come up that Tuesday…the same day she had a voluntary evacuation from her home in Ventura not less than a mile from the front of the fire!
But coincidences aside, when my boyfriend realized the fire was getting way too close to our home in the foothills of Carpinteria (at the edge of the wilderness no less), he quickly drove home to see what he could do to secure the house and pack up some of our ‘stuff.’
As I’m making a list and texting it to him, it was interesting to note what I valued. Besides the usual files for this and files for that, I wanted 3 paintings that meant something to me and get this…I wanted my clothes.
To heck with the kitchen stuff or the rest of the paintings or anything else, I just really like the clothing I have collected the past 10-15 years. Why? Well, that came with a bit of inquiry but I realized it was because I like to be comfortable and I don’t find most clothing comfortable.
Hence the standard Elisabeth Dress Code: tights, white v-neck men’s t-shirt from Costco and a flannel shirt. Anyone who really knows me knows that most of the time I’m not too far from one of my flannel shirts.
So…he got my clothing, at least most of them. A few sweatshirts hid behind the door which is just fine with me since I already had my favorite tie-dye one!
In addition, he grabbed my favorite (and valuable) Thomas Kinkade paintings and the very first painting I ever bought when I was 25ish.
Deciding what to leave and what to take
I suppose the only way to really know is to ask yourself, “Would I miss this so much I’d never get over it?” Or, “Is the meaning I put on this item worth taking up some of the limited space in my vehicle?” Or, “If this item is destroyed, is it replaceable and if it isn’t, would I be able to function in my business, personal life, etc., without it?”
If the answer is YES to any of these, and you still have room in your car, then you probably should take it.
Also, just as I did, do a little intellectual digging to find out what’s under what you value. In my case, it’s comfort and having choices when it comes to what I put on my body. For me, it’s not about style…I couldn’t care less about styles…it’s literally about comfort.
Finding What You Value
The best thing to do is to have these conversations with yourself and the rest of your family and create a list of the things you’ll grab in an emergency but please do this BEFORE there’s an actual emergency.
When I asked my boyfriend if he grabbed a certain thing, he’s not always sure. Why? Because he was scattered, stressed and little scared of the fire encroaching. And I don’t blame him! I was the same way and I was 200 miles north!
OK, turn off your email, put away Facebook, gather your family and walk around your home to determine what you really value and get that list made pronto (if you don’t already have one that is). I promise, if there’s an emergency in your future, you’ll be so glad you did!
Just something else to think about…
Great blog! Having to evacuate is something that I am so familiar with living in the Florida Keys…and yes, what you value may surprise you…I know the certain pieces of clothing, footwear, and jewelry, photos, etc. that I pack up if we have to evacuate. What has been the biggest lesson for me is detachment…detachment from those precious things that you can’t bring with you because they are too darn big to fit in the car with you and the whole family…like the 5 or 6 gorgeous large paintings that my best friend painted and gave to me…all I can do is wrap them up as best as possible and store them in a spot that will hopefully be high and dry. Detachment from materials things is important to our spiritual progress. I think it is important to be able to appreciate and use material things in this plane of existence, as we have worked hard for those “things” or have been gifted those “things”. Being able to detach from material things is certainly a spiritual test…and a challenging test for many of us in the Western World….me included…but with each evacuation it seems easier…
Marina…it was a surreal situation and experience. I’m still quite lost because of the fire.