Goodbye Sonoma County Redux: Synchronous Owls, NaNoWriMo, and Safe Passage

My February 2010 entry, “Goodbye Sonoma County, Goodbye California,” has haunted me for nearly eight years. David and I decided to get married in December 2016 in preparation for purchasing a house in Michigan and relocating from Goshen, Indiana. Ever since then, memories of my sudden departure from California have tumbled across consciousness at least several times per week. From needing to retrieve Sonoma County divorce records — to a two-week stint on Instagram that felt like an assault of photos from places I worked so hard to leave — to discerning and executing our own exit plan from Goshen, the late 2009-early 2010 time period in Sonoma County kept bursting through.

Although David and I met as friends in Chicago, unbeknownst to me at the time, our story actually began in Sonoma County and Napa. Synchronicities too intricate to tell here led to our star aligned meeting, fatefully becoming housemates, and then falling in love. Recurring dreams and bizarre musical playlists played big roles, too, for both of us.

I’ve previously described six months of recurring dreams while living in Sonoma County. Those dreams featured me living in a cottage-like house filled with painted doors in Northern Indiana, long before I began painting doors. The dreams seemed so real that whenever I awoke in my bed in Santa Rosa, California, it took me about 20 minutes to reorient myself. Towards the end of my then marriage, I often felt and voiced, “I’m in the wrong reality. I’m not supposed to be here.”

Mike Clelland’s upcoming book on owls and synchronicity (sequel to his popular book, “The Messengers,” ) features a whole chapter on me, including, how owls and synchronicity rescued me. Very long story short, after years of trying, the opportunity finally opened to get divorced and leave California. What I have never shared publicly — and only very rarely in private — was just how matter of life and death I felt the need to leave California when I did. Towards the end, I kept hearing a roar and seeing bright light barreling towards me if I stayed. I felt suffocated, a full body, fight or flight need to Get. Out. Now.

Keep in mind, I loved living in Sonoma County, and my only trips through Indiana had convinced me I would never in a million years want to live there. (This March 2015 post describes how and why I wound up in Indiana.) My urgency to leave Sonoma County and get back to Chicago with an eventual destination of Indiana seemed irrational to anyone I told. My landlords said they needed to handle me “with kid gloves,” and my now-ex diagnosed me as having “fugue moments.” Meanwhile, that roar and light barreled towards me if I chose to remain.

Knowing how panicked I sounded, I just prayed that someway, somehow I could leave before the chance to jump that timeline closed. If I elected to stay in Sonoma County after my divorce, I knew I would remain there for the rest of my life — however short that life might be.

I don’t want to rehash the chapter in Mike’s book before he releases it, so I’ll just say that synchronous owls played a major role in opening my California exit door. In summoning that opening, I posted an old and new story called “Synchronous Owls,” which led Mike Clelland first to contact me via the comments. He and I failed to connect until Summer 2015, not realizing until then just how many times we had each tried but failed to contact the other.

The story I tell in Mike’s chapter involves an owl painting I completed in late January 2010. This painting now hangs in David’s and my new living room. This past weekend, that very same painting came alive in synchronicities. After teaching the Reiki Level 3 Master Teacher course, I headed out to dinner with David and then to my hairdresser’s husband’s 40th birthday party. We knew no one besides my hairdresser, but we met loads of musicians at the party. We loved all the music and the creative people.

Sunday morning, David and I lay in bed, pondering one particular musician and a song she sang about her mother. I suddenly got an unshakeable urge to go to the Portage Farmer’s Market. David didn’t want to go, and I couldn’t articulate why I did, so we figured we’d better check it out. Following David’s urge to explore the State Theater a month ago led to that party invitation in the first place; we decided to go with the flow even if we couldn’t explain our why. The Portage Farmer’s Market had very few vendors this week, but one booth caught our eye. The Quirky Bohemian. Fun clothes, jewelry and more engaged us until I looked up and said, “Hey, aren’t you? Didn’t we just? Were you????”

Sure enough! This stall belonged to the very same musician we’d listened to and chatted with the night before. It turns out she has a running joke that her new band will be called “The Black Squirrels of Goshen,” and this little tidbit led to many synchronous rabbit holes. I contemplated getting an elephant print dress from her booth when suddenly, Quirky Bohemian’s mom appeared (yes, “Mom” from the song we discussed that morning right before I got the wild urge to go to the Portage Farmers Market). She wore as a tunic the same elephant dress I held in my hand.

“My mom’s so cute. She always wears my clothes whenever she comes to market.”

Eventually, talk turned from black squirrels to Goshen music venues (Ignition Garage), to gardening, to Kalamazoo Kal, because it all comes back to Kal, doesn’t it? Well, no. Apparently, it all comes back to owls, because according to “Mom,” “Groundhogs hate owls.” This statement prompted more tales of calling owls, including David pulling out a photo of my painting of the great horned owl I’d called. More owl stories followed, including growing up in a house full of a mother’s owl collections — something Mike Clelland finds frequently in his research.


Later that day, I received multiple emails about owls, including one about an owl brewery t-shirt, and would I “please tell David.” I did, and funnily enough, he had just unpacked a vintage Bell’s Best Brown Ale great horned owl t-shirt he procured on EBay.  I snapped a photo of him wearing it next to my painting, and sharing this image led to more owl stories from more people. The next morning brought texts about screech owls and Mike Clelland. All this owl talk brought my mind right back to late 2009-early 2010 Sonoma County.

I’ve also had Sonoma County on the brain because after an 8 year hiatus, I recently decided to inaugurate my return to writing fiction with NaNoWriMo 2017. The last time I wrote any fiction was NaNoWriMo 2009 — in Santa Rosa, California, the downtown of which just burned to the ground. That NaNoWriMo’s frenzied writing forced me to realize in no uncertain terms that my marriage was over and I needed to leave California even sooner than ASAP. Which brings me full circle to the beginning of this post, referencing Goodbye Sonoma County, Goodbye California. Although I did not detail the intensity of my need to leave California, I did reference “the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire,” Biblical allusions that captured my mood at that time.

For years, I’ve wondered why I felt such panic and urgency to flee Santa Rosa, California. That roar and bright light still would haunt me, almost like PTSD of something I never experienced. I used to think maybe I would have been run over by a train or hit by a truck if I stayed in Santa Rosa. After awhile, I tried to dismiss that visceral message as metaphorical. Then I saw yesterday’s headline from ZeroHedge:

“10 Dead, 1000’s Displaced After Wildfires Engulf Napa, Sonoma, and 6 Other California Counties.”

I read yesterday in the comment section:

In all seriousness, here’s an email from my brother a couple of hours ago:

“The fires are burning to the north, east and west of us. Many parts of Santa Rosa, including downtown have been leveled and the fire is burning into Rohnert Park. Kenwood and Glen Ellen are burning. More than 1500 structures gone so far. 20K+ evacuated. My manager’s home was lost in Santa Rosa. The news reports keep mentioning the lack of fire support due to the massive size of the burn (currently 50K+ acres). No containment of any sort yet. From the last report I saw, the fire is approximately 3 miles away from us.

Winds have died off, which should help going forward. No evacuation orders as yet. We are packed as best we can. Cross your fingers.”


Reading that comment and seeing footage of the fire, I realized without a doubt that this is what I foresaw and fore-felt. I reread my February 2010 post and now see how strong a premonition it was. “The pillar of cloud and pillar of fire.” That roaring sound and utter panic as fire unexpectedly engulfs a downtown. I am so grateful I trusted my intuition to leave when and how I did, even though it seemed rash to those around me. The positive synchronicities that led me to get together with David and for us to find our way from Chicago to Madison to Goshen and now home in Kalamazoo amaze and delight me. But the warnings and supernatural care humble me beyond anything I can express.

I Am Grateful.

And prayerful. Peace, safety and rain to Northern California … and care and love to anyone displaced by the many challenges on Earth right now. May clarity and Grace prevail … may we always recognize our openings and the help that surely comes.


18 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by R. O'Laughlin on October 10, 2017 at 3:04 pm

    Love this post!

    My mother also had an owl collection – we can talk about that another time! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks, R.!


  3. Santa Rosa downtown is still alive and well, and so is Rhonert Park, though Glen Ellen has been devastated. Fires still burning out of control in outlying areas, so not sure what the eventual outcome will be, but keep the prayers and magic coming to quell the flames, calm the winds, and call in the moisture. Honor the elementals and elicit their cooperation with love. Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow, good to hear that in some version of reality downtown Santa Rosa still stands. I had seen photos and videos of it totally burned. Prayers, magic, moisture and help from the elemental in request and on order. Love and blessings, Laura

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I live in nearby Graton, so have been watching the events very closely. The populated areas that have burned are Coffee Park north of the Coddingtown area and the Fountain Grove area north of central Santa Rosa. Now fire is moving through Anadel Park toward Oakmont and into Bennett Valley east of the fairgrounds. You probably remember some of these neighborhoods from your time living here. Many of my friends have had to evacuate and some have lost their homes, but so far the most populated areas and downtowns have not been affected… except by lots of smoke and ash.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Posted by Laura on October 10, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    Whoa! Good job listening to your intuition!! Who knows if you would have been another casualty of the fire if you hadn’t of changed your timeline!! I’m glad you are safe and sound. Lots of love to you!!!! ❤ Laura

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes, I remember many of those areas and regularly went to or near some of the spots completely burned down. I had friends who visited and stayed at the Hilton that’s now completely gutted. I don’t recall the name of my neighborhood, so I don’t know if it’s standing or not.

    In any case, I’ve been sending prayers and peace that way since I first happened upon the information yesterday. An eerie sense of peace has covered me, too, in that I finally have closure on such an intense and previously unexplained urgency. Of course, these are the sorts of things one wishes she were wrong about … or that it really was metaphorical or just personal to me, not huge swaths of houses, businesses, animals and livelihoods.

    Best of luck and love to you.


  8. Thank you, Laura. Yes, it’s an odd feeling, especially since I do not drive and the fires just came roaring through in the middle of the night. I’ve had other situations where premonitions/dreams/intuitions/prayers have kept me safe, but this was the most dramatic. The overlay of all those owl synchronicities and the fact I had not been following any news and just happened upon this seems important, at least to me. Lots of love to you and to all affected, near and far. ❤


  9. Oh, yes, I just remembered, we were either in or right near Coddingtown area. I could walk to the Coddingtown Mall. It was not even a 10 minute walk from where we lived.


  10. Wow – Such a profound affirmation for trusting your instincts, but how sad to have them confirmed this time and in this way, as the great conflagration truly comes to pass. I remember visiting you in Santa Rosa. Such a sweet town, and I was so happy to meet you, Laura! That was a beautiful day. Much love ♥︎ d

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Wonderful post and my prayers are also added to California and ALL places in need of healing right now.. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Good you trusted your intuition!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you, Sue. Yes, it is a LOT of places in need of healing right now. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Yes so so many.. xxx ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thanks, Diana. Yes, I wish my own confirmation of a premonition did not come at the expense of others’ reality. On a brighter note, that was such a fun visit! Much love to you, too. ❤


  16. Posted by Linette on October 12, 2017 at 8:27 am

    Wow wow wow…so glad you jumped timelines and are safe and sound! So much love ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thank you, Linette! Me, too. ❤


Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: