WHAT DOES GIVING BACK LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

Why should I or how could I... give back? Have you ever asked yourself that? No big deal if you haven't but I can assure you it's a worthy investigation for your soul. 

The secret to living is giving
— Anthony Robbins
Inspirational Addict Blogger and Wellness Influencer Andrea Bogart talks giving back with recent Sonoma Fires on her mind as a new Sonoma Mamma with Erik Almas

Are you a helpful human? I’m a helpful human. I know I enjoy doing things for others. I'm sure we can share in that confidently right? I also can admit there have been times in my life where I thought I was too broke and way too busy making ends meet to give back in any sort of way. I snarled at street beggars and would think to myself “do better, try to get a job, I am”. I wasn't compassionately thinking about what their story may be. Those were very limiting beliefs. I am happy to say, that young and narrow mind of mine has expanded quite a lot since those days. It’s hard though… sometimes you just don't see how to help others if you’re struggling yourself. Let's grab a little insight together on this.

Ask Yourself A Few Things

Is there a cause you know your heart is drawn to? What are your passions? If you had a million dollars to spare what contributions would you want to make? What do you care about? Where would you like to make an impact? What does your spirituality look like? Feeling inspired yet?

The Northern California fires that just blazed in like a hurricane over wine country and my new home have given me reason to pause. I'd like to take how abundantly blessed we've been through it all and find ways to give back for those who've lost so much. I've never had to emergency evacuate before. Nor consider the safest decisions to quickly make with a newborn and partner you love dearly. I've never had a home of my own that I had to think about loosing so fast. I tend to think anyone who has experienced this would agree, you very quickly realize the only thing that matters is your families safety. While it's difficult not to implode with sadness when there is so much suffering in the world, you can shift a lot by focusing on gratitude and sharing that energy with others. Incredible strength has come from our Sonoma community in group and individual efforts. We've returned to signs of thanks for our firefighters and first responders posted everywhere and a sense of warmth engulfing this town with supportive conversations, smiles and waves to every passing neighbor, offers for home cooked meals, places to stay and introduced to loads of resources where people can help in a multitude of ways. Examples of giving back surrounds us.

Inspirational Addict Blogger Andrea Bogart and wellness influencer in Sonoma talks giving back after Sonoma Fires. 

I joined The New Hollywood; a501c3 non-profit organization which is dedicated to supporting socially conscious storytellers and change-maker’s in 2014. I was so inspired by this group of women from the first meeting we had. They all have incredibly busy lives and manage to successfully wear several different hats AND are part of charity organizations doing a wonderful job supporting things they are passionate about. I got curious about how I could do more to give back and what that could look like for me. Inspiration is always a helpful tool when it comes to taking action yourself. Being a part of this group, hearing about what so many others do on small and large scales gave me insight to look and see how I could do the same. It's infectious. 

Get Your Wheels Turning

My passions for teaching yoga, writing children's literature and acting have lead me to give back in all those areas by volunteering my time with aligned programs. These are really enjoyable ways to give back for me. What do you love to do?

If time is not available but monetary donations make more sense in some instances, I like to know what percentage directly get's given to the cause. Don't be afraid to get clarity on that. Watch out for things that say "some proceeds or a portion of" if you in-fact would like to know your offerings go fully into what you're supporting. 

I love doing a major house cleaning a few times a year and donating requested items to the Veterans. They will pick up boxed or bagged goods at your door and you can schedule it. What may not be of use to me anymore may be extremely useful to someone else. This is a great one for kids to participate in when cleaning out toys. 

Depending on your spiritual path and what your practice is... prayers cost nothing and are filled with intentions and love. Our family is especially grateful for all the prayers sent our way during the past few weeks and we plan to keep that prayer train moving. There is a lot of healing knowing there's positivity being sent your way, not to mention what you can put out there for others. We often have our greatest healing happen when we take that which feels heavy off of ourselves and redirect it into love and gratitude you can share. 

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Thank you for stopping by Inspirational Addict... If you have any comments or fun you'd like to share with me please do. It's lovely hearing from you guys. Sending lot's of love out there into the world. Blessings and hugs.

XO ANDREA

 

 

My Evacuation Experience from The Sonoma Fires

I'm still in shock with what was a beautiful start to a day taking such a dramatic turn for the worst. Nothing could have prepared Northern California for the devastating fires that have swept the lands this past week. 

Let's Rewind

Last Sunday morning was a special one for me. While Cornerstone Sonoma offered to let me host my first yoga event in their Garden Barn and word had been spreading throughout the community, I was feeling the warm welcome from many. Kevin Paris, our talented musician soothed our senses playing his acoustic guitar as we flowed between utter bliss and joyful tears.

Inspirational Addict wellness influencer Andrea Bogart leads yoga and live music event with Kevin Paris at Cornerstone Sonoma Garden Barn 

It was a great turn-out and everything went so smoothly. As one yogi commented after saying “I wish we had this every Sunday, it felt like going to church,” I was delighted. I took the feelings of a loving, supportive community home with me and couldn’t wait to start planning the next one. It was a beautiful day…

Inspirational Addict wellness influencer Andrea Bogart leads yoga and live music event with Kevin Paris at Cornerstone Sonoma Garden Barn

Cut To The Evening

Later, back at home, the sun started to dip over the mountain and the weather took a shift. The wind howled and haunting sounds took me to bed. That jumpy feeling you get from watching scary movies swallowed me… Aaaaand BLACK OUT, suddenly we loose power. Candles are lit and there’s a quick shuffle around to find flash lights. I resettle myself, read our baby girl a few books (a little more for me than her I think) and tried to comfortably tuck in. We finally sleep. Just after 1:30AM I’m awakened by hearing our names being shouted outside the window with a flash of light peering past the curtains. Our neighbor, an Angel, waking us with the news that there is an entire hill side across the way is on fire and we should evacuate our home. She says to grab some things for a few nights and get out as fast as we can.  She gave us a meeting place if we needed support.

My heart pounds. I see our baby-girl sleeping so soundly and take some deep breaths. I can’t even begin to describe what kind of fear sets in knowing this is not just about our safety anymore, it’s about this little human you will do anything to protect. But I quickly decide fear is not an option. It’s; think fast, keep it together and get out safely.

Erik and I make a quick plan to get down from the mountain. We need to get our renters in our Airbnb evacuated and our neighbor there who manages our property whom we couldn’t reach by phone. The drive down was daunting for many reasons… I’m focused on the winding road as there are huge branches and debris down everywhere. I can see the entire ridge to the East on fire, it’s massive. This just got even more real. We divide and conquer, pounding on the doors and yelling to get everyone out and succeed. We headed to some friends just off the square to regroup and decide what’s next. It’s approximately 2:30AM and the usual quiet streets are packed with groups congregating in various areas clearly not sure what to do.

We spend the next hour+ taking in the situation, getting opinions of neighbors (a retired fire chief being one,) and mulling it over with all our friends who’ve met here. We are well aware the smoke is getting worse, we know we have to get our three month old out of this. Erik secures a hotel in about 45 minutes toward San Fransisco for us and we take off. Roads are closed on the way out but relatively clear. An hour later, now 5:30AM we are checking in and getting our wee one tucked back in safely. I won't take you through a play by play for the next seven days as all the details are unimportant. I will tell you that I’m grateful we got out when we did as it was the best decision for our newborn and her tiny developing lungs and I’m in awe of how amazing my love, Erik, is time and time again.

I share a part of this all with you today to express extreme gratitude and heartfelt condolences. The fires are not over but after we got confirmation today that our home survived the fires and our rental property did as well, we feel so incredibly blessed. When two of the larger burning fires became one by Wednesday and the winds kicked back up we really questioned what could happen as our homes sat in the middle of it all. We prayed and we asked everyone we knew to pray for us and all those in the midst of extreme duress. It has been an emotional roller-coaster of getting notifications that things are ok and then it would all change at a moments notice. One of our closest friends lost their home like so many have. The sadness you endure for others is real, the unknown of what your own reality may be is almost paralyzing. We spent our days being consumed by updates and news hanging onto any hopeful information that came our way. Having a newborn is a godsend. They keep you in good spirits because they sense what you're feeling. I started to really loose it multiple times and Em's little lower lip curled down and I could see she was going to loose it too... I did't want that. We sang and played and were able to take a lot of down moments and relish in the joy of having her. I practiced non-attachment daily knowing that having each other in the end was all we needed and the rest is replaceable. It's NOT EASY... you think about all that you'd loose and it hits you like a brick wall. I really love our home. I really love where we've settled to start our family life. I couldn't make that go away. I did however keep praying for the best. I visualized people returning to their homes and a strong community coming together to support the process of rebuilding. That will all continue. Sonoma Country and Napa County will need a lot of love in the coming years. 

Our firefighters and first responders are our hero's. The hours and effort it's taken to bring so many of them together to manage the unmanageable is unbelievable and deserving of so much support and praise. I know our family will be forever grateful for their courage and do whatever we can to join others in giving back. We have been overwhelmed with support from our families and new and old friends during this time. Erik, Em and I thank you so very much. Prayers are constant for so many of those who’ve lost everything and continue to struggle with the unknown fate of these fires. Stay strong and believe there are wonderful people all around who are coming together to support each other. 

If you've been affected by the fires please sign up for disaster relief assistance at www.disasterrelief.gov

I'll work on putting together a great list but here's a place to start if you'd like to donate https://www.youcaring.com/victimsevacueesandfirstrespondersforsonomafires-977708

Little Bit Of Our Story

We, like so many others hope to get to return home soon. All my love and blessings. 

xoxo Andrea

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NOTE: All Photos of Fires pulled from Internet resources-I take no credit and used just to show visually the Northern California Fires near Sonoma Valley of Oct. 2017.