The End Is The Beginning

February 5th, 2013 - filed under: The Farm » Family

March started off with a bang – my baby turned two! I had a lot of fun putting this party together, because for the first time in a long time, I actually had some time. And being able to finally focus completely on doing something motherly – well that was just a real treat. Seeing all those wee baby vegans partying down, gah! Heart-explosion!

The day after the party we packed up the car and drove the whole family south. See, Damian and I can both basically work from anywhere, and those Portland winters are just so oppressive. So we last-minute-planned an extended stay back home, in Santa Barbara California.

But really, it was more than just a vacation. It was an exploratory trip.

Because we were thinking of moving back.

Two days in the car, and then we were home.

I have an interesting relationship with Santa Barbara, as most people probably do with their home town. SB is truly one of the most beautiful places in America, this tiny pocket of perfection, a geographic diamond nestled between the ocean and mountains, sheltered at just the right angle (the coast runs east-west, not north-south like you’d think), at just the right latitude, that makes it pretty much . . . paradise.

It’s also full of exorbitant wealth (often grotesquely displayed), superficiality, very clear racial-economic division, that “LA mentality” (ugh), and all sorts of other complicated baggage.

I had mixed feelings about moving back home, but after 5 solid years in Portland – and the depressing 6-month winters there – and in the midst of an undiagnosed illness, and with raising this amazing (and amazingly spirited) little being with no family nearby to help . . . well, Santa Barbara had a lot going for it.

And within three days of being home, we had decided: YES. We wanted to move back.

We called a realtor friend back in Portland. Asked for an appraisal, his thoughts on the market, a discussion of our situation. And a few days later we heard back.

That we were underwater on our mortgage. Significantly. Selling our Portland home wouldn’t happen without taking a major loss (not possible). And a bunch of other complicated bullocks that basically made it clear that moving just wasn’t an option.

That was hard, to have our hopes raised and then dashed in a matter of days. Damian left after two weeks to return to Portland, and Waits and I stayed behind in CA, soaking up the sun and generally enjoying the “break” from life.

I was doing so much reflecting back then, still sick and still searching, definitely depressed and so desperate to feel better. Determined to feel better.

I made some big strides that month. I discovered the concept of unconditional parenting, and it resonated so strongly with me that I began to practice immediately. And I still do, imperfectly of course – it’s a journey and a difficult one – but it is unquestionably the best thing I’ve ever done as a parent.

Being away from Damian, and parenting on my own, actually allowed me to really shine, and I gained a lot of mother-confidence in March. The truth is that my self-esteem had been so shot for so long, that my internal narrative was one of constant negative talk and self loathing. That month I worked hard to change the language, and my mantra became: “I love myself, exactly as I am, right now”. Yes, I said that silly little sentence multiple times every day, and yes I think it really helped. Now pass the crystals, hippie.

One other really interesting moment happened, during a conversation with my grandmother and my aunt, in which I was opening up for the first time (ever) and discussing my depression. And we were talking about my life, and about when my mom died (I was 9) and how I reacted to that and how my life unfolded afterwards. And my aunt said something to me, something to the effect of, “I was so afraid for you. I watched it all happening and now I feel like you just have this bit of . . . sadness, inside of you.”

And you know what? She’s right. And it was good to hear, because it’s true, and it’s about time I accept that. There’s a little sadness inside of me. That’s authenticity, right?

“Ohmigod mom, I’m IN a dirt mover.”

Overall March was really amazing. The sun was so good for me. Healing. And the time alone with my boy was a gift, and the time to reflect was invaluable, and overall March was just really beautiful, a fresh new beginning.

April coming soon . . .

  • Annie

    It’s amazing that sometimes our emotional baggage should be self-evident, but we kind of figure that since we’ve gotten over something, it doesn’t hurt anymore. I love that you’re really exploring the authenticity of life and dealing with the crap.
    I’m kind of realizing that you can’t ever actually be 100% over something, because you can’t forget. Which I used to find really depressing, but it’s just the way it is. Shit happens, I’m happy and healthy and learning how to teach English and Spanish to kids and I have a good network of family and friends – things could be much worse.

  • Monika {windycityvegan}

    Hooray for mother-confidence, for reflection and authenticity, and wee baby vegan birthday parties! And for returning home – despite the socioeconomic disparities and irritating LA mentality, Santa Barbara *is* paradise in many ways. There was a two-year period in which I spent a lot of time in SB and Arcata/Eureka, and it was breathtaking. I know this post is early along your update timeline, but all of the photographs you’ve posted since you moved back to SB have me seriously pining for the west coast.

  • andrea

    As I can see it looks like it was that kind of “vacation” without bloging was needed! About gray and cold winters far from the coast- oh totally understand you! I have too moved inland from my home town which is located on the coast :/ and while climate conditions are so much better on the coast, also can understand your comment about different points of view…well, I guess one always have a reason why is moving away, but maybe you are getting closer to your point of return, who knows! Btw. apart from Waits-the cutest thing have to say that that garlic looks really tempting! Oh I can’t wait for spring and all its treats (saying this with nostalgia and eyes full of tears when I look outside the window and see that’s snowing again ahhh…)! :) It’s good to have you back in this virtual world and most of all I’m really looking forward to hear more cause the on coming months are Spring and Summer and at least I would be able to dream about it ;)

  • Rachel Jacobs

    Looks like the sunshine did a world of good for you. Sucks that SB wasn’t a choice at least in March…it would be nice if things could turn around as the scenery you provided is just beautiful.
    Looking forward to reading about the continued forward progress :)

  • Shell

    Just so loving ready your journey of the past year. xoxo

  • Stefanie

    You’re return to blogging has been a breath of fresh air. I’m in the midst of some difficult things myself, and it is so reassuring to read your story. I didn’t realize you had lost your mother when you were so young, I lost mine a few months after my daughter was born (I was 23), and I definitely understand living with a sadness inside. Becoming a mother and motherless at nearly the same time has made me perhaps too aware of the fleetingness of time, and I still tend to get choked up during even the most mundane (to most people) experiences I get to share with my children, as if everything is bitter-sweet. Thank you so much for coming back to writing here with such an honest voice!

  • Lou

    Sunshine is seriously an AMAZING medicine, particularly for us who carry sadness with us.

  • Jen

    I’m so glad you’re back to blogging. So many things you think and feel resonate with me, and you are such an inspiration.

    I got all choked up about your mom passing away when you were only 9. What a difficult thing for a young girl to go through. I’m so sorry for your loss and the sadness that you have carried with you all these years.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Yeah, I guess I just don’t believe it’s a binary – an “either-or” situation. Like, I can live a happy and fulfilling life while simultaneously honoring and experiencing my other emotions (ie, the “negative” ones). I don’t know, so far it’s working wonders!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    That’s awesome that you’ve spent time there! I didn’t realize that. It really is just such a gorgeous place – I am completely (re)enamored!

    Sometimes I look objectively at the pictures coming out of my camera these days and I’m just like – “Yup. NO regrets”. ;-)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I was thinking it would be fun for people to read through my spring and summer, while right in the middle of winter. A little reminder of what’s to come! And it’s juuuuust right around the corner . . .

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Sun is magic, I have come to realize it. These days I worship it much the same as others worship their deity. Seriously, it is my divinity!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks Shell, I really love being able to share with total honesty!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Oh, I’m so glad that my writing is providing some reassurance/support. I can only imagine how incredibly painful (and confusing) it must have been to become a mother and lose a mother in such a short time period. Wow. For me, I have mostly resolved my feelings regarding my mother’s passing, and it was definitely a bit of a surprise how much stuff came up when I became a mother myself (I shouldn’t have been surprised really, because OBVIOUSLY, but I just wasn’t paying attention).

    Thank you for sharing and for reading. Also, totally tangential and perhaps inappropriate, but crazy0haired mamas unite! Love your blue! <3

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Like I said to someone above, I have become a sun-worshiper in a pretty literal sense. It is pure life force!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thank you so much Jen. It’s amazing how profoundly something like that can affect a person (maybe not so amazing, really), and I see it manifest in new ways all the time. Some of them make my life more difficult, but many have made me a stronger, more aware person. I think a lot of my empathy and compassion is borne from the struggles I’ve faced in my life. Anyway, I don’t know that there’s a point I’m trying to make, but thank you for the kind words. =)

  • Deirdre

    I don’t know how I found my way back to your blog, but what you said about a little bit of sadness resonated so deeply with me (from what you’ve written we share a similar situation) and I just want to say thank you. This little blogging community might not be the flesh and blood real-life connections, but it is something, so thank you for being here.

  • skeptk_vegan

    Living in Alaska means popping vegan Vitamin D is about the best sun-medication I can come up with, during these long winter months, that is! So many of your mini-journeys and internal workings parallel mine, and I am thoroughly delighted that you’ve begun to grasp authenticity over positive-masking. Also totally jealous of those strawberries pictured, I’ve never seen any so big and red! I love all of your photos!

  • Annie

    I remember when my friend was opening up about his mum passing away when he was a kid and someone asked “how long did it take you to get over it?” and he, amazingly, replied “any day now!”. It’s really simple yet profound things like that which make you appreciate your experiences.

  • Kelly

    I continuously think about leaving the great PNW for someplace sunnier and warmer. I know my body and mind and soul crave and need it. Unfortunately, I think I’m in the same boat with my property. I haven’t officially looked into selling, but my sense is that I would be under water as well. Plus, there’s the security of the job and not knowing what the heck to do with myself if I start over in a new town/city that has me terrified…
    …So, until something kicks my ass and makes me move, I have to settle for February/March island vacation. I just returned from a two-week excursion to Puerto Rico and I’m sunburned to prove it. Funny, the looks I’ve received as my color is nothing short of unusual and rare here. :o) I wish the heightened Vitamin D levels would get me through the rest of the winter though.
    On an entirely different note…Vegan babies!!! YAY!! We definitely need more of them. :o)