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Day by day and breath by breath, Malibu residents are working to heal.
Residents received some professional help in their journeys during a Day of Malibu Healing & Assistance, a Dec. 2 event sponsored by Malibu Country Mart. Another such day is scheduled for 12-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15; see the infobox on this page for details.
“Grief is a process, but it’s not a linear process and there are days that one feels sadness, anger and denial, with all of those emotions oscillating in your being,” said Rae Hipolito, a marriage and family therapist and volunteer at the event. “... It is important to honor all of your feelings and speak to a professional because when you try to do it all alone, often you don’t move through it.”
Moving through the pain was an integral focus of the day, with free yoga sessions, acupuncture, reiki, meditation, massages, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (a form of psychotherapy), and legal counseling from the Pepperdine Law Disaster Relief Clinic on offer.
“All of Malibu is in trauma,” said attendee Catherine Malcolm Brickman. “I’ve learned in my life that part of giving is receiving.”
Freiman noted that many fire victims have not returned to Malibu, and therefore have to try to heal while being away from their hometown.
“Right now, the people who are away, like those who are here, are in shock and I hope that when some return, they take the time to take care of themselves,” Freiman said. “They need to heal from the trauma.”
Attendee Erin Garrity tried reiki at the event.
“It’s the first time that I’ve had reiki,” Garrity said. “I came in feeling heavy, drained and overwhelmed, and the experience made me feel light, good and energized.”
Niki Alsop, a Malibu resident and certified reiki master teacher, explained that “reiki is restorative and is a regenerative Japanese technique that works with one’s life-force energy, not the muscles, because everything about our body is energy.”Alsop is not spared from the trauma of the fire, as her family lost their home, too, but she said it fulfilled her to play a part in the community’s healing.
“We’re all family here,” she said.
Ted McDonald, co-owner of sponsor 5 Point Yoga, noted that yoga can nurture mindfulness.
“We’re offering free yoga sessions to anyone who lost their home or who is in financial distress due to the terrible fire,” he said.
Sara Tabibzadeh, director of marketing for Malibu Country Mart, characterized the shopping center as a gathering place that is part of the ethos of Malibu.
“We are so glad to be able to work with incredible people to bring everyone together,” she said. “We care for the Malibu community and look forward to our next day of healing on Dec. 15 when we will welcome in the holidays with our community.”
Dr. Jennifer Johnston-Jones, founder of sponsor Roots & Wings, emphasized that counselors are available on an ongoing basis to support fire victims.
“As Malibu’s nonprofit for counseling and joyful living, Roots & Wings is honored to host healing events for anyone affected by the fire,” she said. “Our healing events are completely free and counseling in our offices is set on a sliding scale.”
Malibu youth also participated in giving thanks to first responders by gathering to make a poster.
“We’re including pictures of horses and designs of dog paw prints,” said Hadley Becker, 10. “We are trying to get as many signatures as possible to give the firemen a big ‘thank you.’”
Focusing on healing includes dealing with the practical hassles that have been abruptly thrust upon those affected by the fire.
Professor Jeff Baker, director of clinical education at Pepperdine School of Law, and Professor Sophia Hamilton, director of externships and pro bono programs at the university, held consultations with attendees to offer free advice.
Amidst a layout of handouts, including a homeowner’s insurance policy guide for fire survivors and a FEMA 101 Orientation, the professors calmed nerves and offered guidance.
“We have a group of approximately 80 attorneys from Santa Monica and Los Angeles who are offering to advise clients,” Hamilton said. “Next semester, professors Baker and Tanya Asim Cooper will oversee a Disaster Relief Clinic in which students will offer advisory assistance.”
Professional guidance helps to address the legitimate concerns that residents have regarding possible scams.
“I’m seeking legal advice,” Malibuite Conroy Kanter said. “I don’t know who to trust.”
Trust is integral to healing, many counseling experts at the event noted. Simply stated, one needs to feel safe and to believe that professionals are trustworthy in order to start healing.
Another part of healing, however, is to carry on in life, with support from others. In that vein, the Malibu Colony Company held its prescheduled holiday party but used the event as a fundraiser to benefit the California Fire Foundation and the Humane Society of Ventura County.
“This party is a great opportunity for our community to come together and support our courageous firefighters and the Ventura Humane Society which saved so many of our friends and their pets,” said Tisha Medivic, manager of the store. “We are so very grateful to them.”
For more information on upcoming events at Malibu Country Mart, visit www.facebook.com/MalibuCountryMart.
Day of Malibu Healing & Assistance
What: Malibu Country Mart, Pepperdine Law Disaster Relief Clinic, 5 Point Yoga and Roots & Wings Malibu will offer a day of yoga, meditation, free legal counseling, EMDR, massages, acupuncture and more. Country Mart also will welcome the holidays with live carolers, an ice sculptor, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, arts and crafts, and more. Everything is free. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
When: 12-4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15
Where: Malibu Country Mart, 3835 Cross Creek Road