One year ago we pulled into our new home in Santa Ynez, leaving behind everything we knew as a family in Orange County and started a new chapter in our life.
I must say, I did not expect the interest people would have in our change when we first set out doing something different for our family. I didn’t expect people to want to read about our journey and was surprised at all the comments, emails, texts I have received over the past year. I know I failed in keeping up with this weekly but that was something I committed to myself – don’t over do it. Say yes when you want but no when you want as well. Did that mean writing less than I planned? Yes. Do I feel guilt or bad about it? Not at all. I moved at my pace.
But at a year, I do have something to say.
Often the years go by without reflecting on everything that has happened in a year but this past year was different. It was an invigorating year with so much change and adjustment and newness that it will forever stand out to me among the many years I hope to live. I know I have had these types of years in the past but perhaps my youth kept me from appreciating how incredible the change and new was. Starting high school, starting college, graduating and starting my career, getting married, having babies. These were all years that brought pivotal change and newness. They are all years that have given me cherished memories. Unfortunately, perhaps I didn’t take a moment to reflect on my own personal development in those years. This year was different.
I am different from who I was a year ago.
I left Orange County confident of who I was but also carrying a large burden of being who others wanted me to be. At times, it felt like there were two of me, battling over which one was the right one. There would be moments when I would take a stand, ruffle feathers and make people uncomfortable, standing for what I thought was right. When I truly was myself was with people who I knew would accept me no matter what. Then there were moments when I would “sit still, look pretty”, playing the role that I often felt needed to be played in an environment that sometimes felt confining and conforming.
Over the past year, I have let go of that burden.
And it has felt amazing.
With a few months until my 40th birthday, I feel as if I have found my stride as to who I am and who I want to be, truly confident, without the barriers of expectations from others.
Then there is the change in our family. This was one that I never expected and has been the greatest gift. When you move to a town where you don’t know anyone, it is amazing how fast you fall back to your family. My children, who often asked to have others over and wanted to do their own thing, learned to spend time together again. For the first few months, they only had each other. They leaned on each other, hung out with each other, and really, we did everything just the 5 of us. Now that we are more acclimated to our community and have made friends, this has stuck. I get asked every week if we can have family movie night over the weekend. Just yesterday, they spent the afternoon playing tag with each other outside. They build forts, create games, and cook together. Of course they now ask to hang with their friends and do things on their own but the renewed engagement is something I would have never expected and this has been the greatest gift.
Then there is Loren and I. This is a big one that many people have asked about. The stress of him searching for the next chapter of his career, consulting here and there. Me, going back to work and school. The big one: BOTH working at home all day. I would be lying if I said it has all been roses and rainbows. Absolutely not. On the flip side of those struggles though, it has been amazing. For the first time, we are partners, going through the day each morning with what we both have, what needs to get done and what the kids have going on. We take turns cooking dinners, driving to practice and folding laundry. I have developed a understanding to how hard it is to work and go to school while also being present with home (which I challenged him on for 14 years of his career) and he has developed an understanding of how much actually needs to get done in a day (which finally hit him after wondering what a stay at home mom actually has to do all day). As we both pick up our careers again, it is looking very different than it ever has and I truly believe our success as a couple comes from what we have learned together in the past year, both the ups and downs.
On top of all this, we have met incredible friends here that I know we were destined to have in our lives. They are just too good and make us better people. The school has been incredible and the passion these teachers have for each of our kids and their success is unbelievable. Our coaches are not just invested in creating great athletes but strong and confident kids who have compassion for others, which is what I view the most important piece of sports. Our community is filled with friendly, kind individuals who I often find, moved here for the same reasons we did; to slow life down and raise kids in an environment where they still get to be kids for just a little bit longer. And the town itself. Oh how I love the dirt roads, the views, the slow pace, and simplicity of it all.
One year down.
I am not quite sure what the next year will bring but to answer the question so many have asked, the one I have heard for a year now:
“Do you think you will come back to Orange County?”
My simple answer is, “No”.