and then i found my Happy, it was hiding under the sun in California . . .

February 26th, 2013 - filed under: The Farm » Family

December was when everything shifted. Finally.

All the turmoil and all the transition, all the heaviness of 2012, began to . . . ease. Damian and I were back in sync, share-parenting like old pros. We traded favors, and emotional support. We shared the car, and our hardships. We instituted a bi-weekly baby-free breakfast date – our “State Of The Waits” meetings, as we call them. That’s where we talk about our amazing son and coordinate our parenting strategies. And also, we talk about our relationship. And back then, back in December, we agreed that this trial separation was no longer a trial. We were both happier, by leaps and bounds. And Waits was happier too, with each of us carrying so much less stress.

Not that it isn’t without its rough spots, but Damian and I are completely committed to our friendship, and to Waits. “We’re still a family” we tell him. “It just looks different now.

Oh, this kid!

Juice from the back yard tree. /// A little back yard friend!

And I began to fall in love with this new life. Simple as that.

I realized how isolated I’d been up in Portland. How one-dimensional. Trying to be something I’m not, maybe? But here in Santa Barbara, I was all over the map – farmers markets with my baby boy, cocktails and board games with old friends, fancy musical theatre with my father, beach walks with Waits collecting sea glass, late nights out and live music, late nights in and old records, vegan brunch with my very meat-and-potatoes boss, helping an old friend go vegetarian, helping a new friend navigate dating, gardening and kid-talk with the other parents at preschool, and lots and lots and lots of all-alone time. I was dynamic; I felt like my old self again.

But who knows, maybe it was just the incredible SoCal sun, making all the difference.

The “Holiday Season” in California:

The Toys For Tots drop at the fire station in the foothills. I used to wave “hello” to the Smokey The Bear sign every time I passed it as a child. Now, I wave with Waits. Life is such a trip.

Oh December. Oh holidays.

I grew up pretty poor. And right now I’m pretty poor (poor and privileged – a very strange place to be, indeed). But I remember so vividly how every year my mother (a single mom) would take me shopping in December. We would pick out a toy, and then drop it off at the Toys For Tots program. Every year.

And I wanted to do that with Waits. I wanted him to understand the importance of giving (he chose a truck, this year). It seems like the less I have, the more I feel compelled to give. Isn’t it funny how that works?

My dad brought me gluten-free vegan Christmas cookies, is that not the bestest?

A few days before Christmas, Jo and her family came through town. They could only stay for the afternoon, but man, it was so good to see her. It made me realize that in all my Santa Barbara dynamism, there’s one great big glaring hole: a close “mama friend”. There’s just nothing like really connecting to a woman who’s right there in the trenches like you are, ya know? And it was so good to see her! (did I already say that?) And the kiddos had so much fun running around the back yard and devouring passion fruits and tangerines, and then gluten-free vegan pizzas, mmmmm.

And as for Christmas day? I was alone. By choice. I don’t really celebrate Christmas, or at least I never did before I was married. So this year I lit Hanukkah candles with Waits, and took him to visit Santa, and helped organize a winter solstice gathering (that’s the one I really celebrate). But Christmas, it’s just not my thing, and it’s very much my in-laws thing, so I was fine letting Waits spend the time with them.

I knew that being alone on Christmas would be sad, and that’s just what I needed. Is that weird? I spent the entire day crying and feeling very divorced, and writing – I did some really amazing writing that day – and it was one of the best Christmases I’ve ever had. So there ya go.

On New Year’s Eve, Waits happened to wake up at 11:58 pm, so I pulled him out of bed and was able to give him a big kiss to ring in 2013. Perfect.

January, coming soon . . .

  • andrea

    It’s so nice to see that you and Damian are still such a good friends, you are very inspiring <3 I love that new person that you become over the last year :)

  • Annie

    We have a similar thing to Toys For Tots, called The Wishing Tree, but it’s for underprivileged parents as well, so my sister would pick a present for a girl her age, I would pick for a boy (for balance, otherwise it was all girls) my age and my mum would buy a present for a mum. We were also not very well off, but it’s such a wonderful message to teach young children. Congrats!
    And it’s so nice to see a healthy respect and outlook to a family that’s shifted dynamic.

  • Rachel from The Vegan Mishmash

    I’m so glad to see that things started to turn around for you. Can’t wait to read about January. I love seeing the pictures of Waits too. He looks so happy.

  • MeShell

    I love the wishing tree idea! That’s a lovely idea. I’ll have to look into that kind of thing in my city this year.

  • Marion

    My marriage ended last year too, and the rediscovery of myself has been quite the journey. I’m glad you took a little time to grieve, and to rediscover your own voices. And I’m glad this blog is back!

  • Rachel Jacobs

    I’m still a little sad that the relationship is over, but so very glad that you all have found happiness with your new togetherness (especially for that beautiful little boy). I love that you are sharing Toys for Tots with him. We do something similar with our kids, we do Operation Christmas Child. My kids get great joy in finding things for other kids.
    This is just the most uplifting post you’ve had since returning to the blogging world. This makes me very excited for January…which means we are close to you giving us different content once we catch up on your life from 2012 :)
    Sayward I hope you have a wonderful Wednesday!

  • Deirdre

    Please send out some of that sunshine. I’ve joked for years that for those of us with a plant based diet require the sun to thrive, just as plants do…maybe there is some truth to it (besides the obvi benefits of Vitamin D.)

    Looking forward to your future posts and your and Waits’ smiles are a testimony to what a wonderful job your doing with this transition.


  • Sarah M.

    Location matters so much! We’re New Englanders living in NC and just UGH. Where we are the people are rude and no one connects and 7 months out of the year it is just too hot to be outside. Glad you’re doing better!

  • skeptk_vegan

    Everything sounds like it really came together in December, and I’m so glad. I too celebrate solstice with my boyfriend! I get lots of weird looks for that one, most people I’ve encountered don’t even know what solstice is… ANYWAYS! Sounds like you had an absolutely authentic Christmas. How perfect! :)

  • Annie

    Yeah, It’s really nice. I’m sure there’s something similar to where you live. If not, you can donate toys to women’s shelters, or food to shelters, or warm clothes if you live in the northern hemisphere.

  • Katrina Donovan Fleming

    Have you read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Won’t Stop Talking? Judging by all you’ve shared, I think it would resonate well with you. :) It’s really changed the way I teach my third-graders.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I haven’t read it yet but I’ve heard about it. I think I’d love it, the more I learn about introverts the more I feel like I understand (and accept!) myself. =)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I’m lucky that I grew up in a place where Summer Solstice is one of our biggest holidays, the whole city gets into it. So celebrating the solstices in hippie heaven here in SoCal isn’t so weird, haha.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Sending sunshine at ya! ♥

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you Andrea, I feel very lucky that Damian and I have been able to handle all this with so much love and respect. Very very lucky.

  • Danika

    My parenting partner and I are still sharing a home (until it sells) and I know that I will feel so much lighter and less stressed when I’m in my own place with my little girlies. I think we’ll have to copy the bi-weekly breakfasts. It sounds like a great way to stay on the same page while co-parenting. Thanks for the honesty and the good news!

  • Jackie

    I’ve been reading your blog since the Summer of 2011 when a Google search
    of baking soda and vinegar as a natural sink de-clogger brought me to
    it. There’s a lot I can say about finding your blog in that it has
    helped me be more in touch with the more “crunchy” part of
    me that I always knew was there but didn’t really know how MUCH it
    was there! (Suffice it to say: very glad to see updates here!)

    Anyway, this comment is about your “Playing Catch-Up” series
    because it all comes at a very relevant time in my life. Each month
    that I read, I want to comment, but there’s so much I want to say!
    And then the next month comes, and it touches me in so many more
    great ways. I’m going to stay general with my comments about it just
    for the sake of we’d be here forever if I tried to be specific. But
    it’s so helpful and inspiring to see the progression of your life in
    these few months. It’s a great reminder to me how life is full of
    seasons, and when you’re in a crappy one, there’s a great one coming
    someday. I forget that easily and needed to be reminded of that and
    your latest entries have been perfect for me in my current season.
    Thank you for being so open! It means the world to me, a perfect
    stranger on the other side of the country! (Oh, and most def to the
    Introvert Power! Discovering that in myself has been life-changing as