10/22/2007 01:58 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

When Ashes Fall: Journal Entry During San Diego Fire Storm

I awoke at 2:09 am to the sounds of gusting winds and the smell of fire. I jumped up to look out my window to see an eerie sky filled with smoke.

My daughter and I had finally decided to go to Julian for a peek at some fall colors, the only way we can see the change of seasons in San Diego. But by the time we arrived ten miles outside of Julian through Ramona, a police car was turning everyone around and sending us back home. I never imaged that by 6 am the fire, fanned by 80 mile an hour winds that have knocked out power and uprooted large trees now blocking roadways, had jumped an eight lane freeway and was headed in our direction, 2 hours from Julian.

As I watched the news, made my usual pot of coffee and sat with my daughter and our dog, Gypsy, the reality of an evacuation began to sink in. One of my employees five miles away had just called me to tell me she had been ordered out of her home. Looking around my house, almost as if things were in slow motion, what matters most came as quickly as the fires themselves. All the "stuff" around us didn't matter at all.

The question I was asking myself was, "what can I live without, and what can I not?" Looking at her, I knew the answer immediately. Gathering what would keep us warm, safe, hydrated, and informed was all that mattered.

Our SUV is packed as we drive the deserted streets that remind me of doomsday, ashes falling and sliding down the windshield, the radio tuned in for updates from the media. As we reach my place of employment by the beach and rush inside, hand in hand, a profound message sinks into my chest.

When it comes right down to it, whether it is a fiery blaze or violent crime victimization, a tornado or terminal disease, we get the chance during times like these to discover that it is love, hope, faith and family that remain. It is in times like these that we are reminded of the things in life that we truly can't live without.