the decision

so this next chapter didn’t come into existence over night.  there were many conversations (some heated, some not) about our quality of life in the city.  it had been over six years that we lived in our place, over six years of an hour plus commute each way to work, over one hundred six thousand miles on a car that was only 5 yrs old.  it began about a year ago, and got really intense after our return from christmas holiday in january. something was off.  we were out of sync, and totally at risk of losing each other.  it had been a year since I had been thrust into taking on expanded responsibilities at work which included wading through some of the dirtiest politics I’ve ever seen (actually I think we are all wading through the aftermath of some pretty dirty politics),  adding resources to my team, and managing the dynamics and challenges of very different personalities.  I wasn’t myself, I was unhappy at work, tired of the commute, feeling cramped and suffocated in our home, and creatively dead.  I created NO new work in 2016, none at all.  I needed space.  Space to think, to breath, stretch and create. I needed a new start, we needed a change, and we needed to figure it out quick.

in the spring of 2016 we began looking at places to live that would end the commute to the fruit.  we found a few – the same price (or a little more) for tiny bit more space but NO commute.  pulled the trigger on one, and I think the only reason we aren’t there now is the length of time it took the management company to let us know that we were approved.  they had our deposit for over 10 days with no word.  cancelled, refunded and back to feeling trapped in the city.

while living in seattle M and I spent time at Madison Grove Farm in Fall City WA.  M cleaned horse stalls, helped build a fence and worked a bulldozer/tracker like nobodies business.  he loved being around the animals, working hard and seeing the results. and knowing that what he was doing allowed the Farm to do even more of what it was there for – rehabilitating horses to work with kids who need an extra hug. He worked on the ranch at Motherwell, and keeps talking about going back to do a cattle drive! (sometimes I don’t this guy, and wonder what he’s done with M the city guy.)  I’ve always loved growing things, and the idea of being semi-self sufficient.  I’ve dreamt of flower gardens that keep my home full of fresh bouquets.  I’ve dreamt of a home big enough to comfortably entertain family and friends, and space for future grandchildren to safely run and play.  we’ve talked about it before.  daydreamed about how great it would be live in a  beautiful farmhouse like the couples that Chip and Joanna surprise at the end of “Fixer Upper”.  so I brought up the idea of us starting small, and creating  wallum farm.

when the south bay house fell through (or was cancelled by us) we brought back the notion of a farm.  we had no boundaries in thinking about how big it would be, what kind of animals we’d have – would we have animals, would we grow crops, would it become a full-time farm with employees, so many questions and ideas and options. we could really do anything we wanted, that was the beauty of it.  we had the ability to create our next chapter.  we all have that ability, we may just be to afraid to use it.

we also thought a lot about where we could make this happen.  of course we looked right where we were first.  any further north (Marin, Napa) wasn’t an option as it would just increase an already bad commute.  going south between the city and work (Woodside) we were priced out 100 times over.  south and west to the ocean, there were some options and A LOT of ocean front weather to deal with.  even further south in the mountains above santa cruz we found a historic home with a “just add animals” farm.  the mountain house is what we call it now, it needed special maintenance for the multiple water tanks , generators to be watched over to make sure they sustained things during power outages which there seemed to be quite a few, oil tanks to keep filled for heating the home, pruning of the fruit tree orchard, preparation for multiple snow falls over the winter.  the mountain house was much more than we knew what to do with, or were prepared to take on and it was millions (yes, with an s) of dollars.  once we realized that the real feel of the farm wanted was like the area we were priced out of, we began to contemplate places outside of california.  seattle came up, but we had just left there and still wanted to explore the world before returning.  we considered Hudson Valley NY for the home sizes, land opportunities, art community, and easy train ride into Manhattan.  NY has always been one of my favorite places, and to have it at my fingertips while also being able to have space and fresh air would be the best of both worlds. M is from NY and loves his city, and would love to go back at some point.  the winters are what killed Hudson Valley for us.  talking with friends, and knowing how hard the recent winters have been on the east coast moved us  to  consider the last 2 cities we each really liked.

for different and similar reasons M picked Nashville, and I picked Austin.  M had never been to Austin, and I had never been to Nashville. he loved to food, the music, the vibe of the city.  he took a trip for work and was shown some of the great things about Nashville which sold him.  because we both had only been to the places we had chosen, we decided to not make any decisions until we had visited each others city. during the recovery from my summer surgery we took a couple of days to tour Austin, and it’s surrounding farming neighborhoods.  we worked with F from Magnolia Reality (yes, the Fixer Upper Magnolia) and her husband O.  she kept the search radius within 30-40 minutes of downtown and found us over 20 properties to look at.  we picked our top 4 which happened to be well situated in each corner of austin.  we saw a house surrounded by corn fields, one with a good layout but just not enough land, one with a guest house and lots of oak trees that would need to be cleared, and one so nonimpressive – I can’t remember it. I was surprised at the options we had, and shocked by the prices.  for what we had been paying attention in SF, we could have been living in a palace. austin looked great, felt great, tasted great and had lots of opportunities in tech – and the prices were beyond right.  the city is growing – third fastest growing city in the country, which means if we are able to get property now it should only go up in value.

next on the trip list was Nashville, but when back in San Francisco we thought a lot about our time in Austin, and started figuring out when we could get to Nashville.  after a couple of weeks, we came to the conclusion that Austin was the better choice for both of us – so the trip to Nashville was postponed.  we will still go and check it out, but for wallum farm we set our focus on Austin, and set our timeline for February 2017.

September came with a surprise change in plans.  the owner of the condo we rented in San Francisco called us for the first time in the 6 years we rented from him to “talk with us”.  I immediately knew something was wrong.  he let us know that our 6 years of month to month renting from him was coming to an end.  he needed the place back for his mother-in-law who was moving to the city from Boston to help care for her grandkids.  her house was selling in 30 days, and legally he had to give us 60 days to move out.  a “no fault” eviction is what we were handed, and we took a week or so to figure out how to handle the adjustment.  options were to move twice within the Bay Area and keep the plan to move to Austin in February, or accelerate the Texas move.  after looking at Air BnB rentals for a 45 day stay we decided to just take the leap, and move early. this meant job options for me were now completely up in the air – but we had faith that everything would work out the way it was meant to as long as we stayed focused on where our hearts were taking us.

we returned to Austin in October with the intention of coming back to SF with an address.  we looked at the Rancho Bueno property (the one with the AMAZING kitchen) that had 5 bedrooms on 3 acres, and a few others that weren’t as interesting.  Rancho Bueno has been the first only property we’ve been the close to purchasing because it felt almost perfect, but without knowing the area it was in we couldn’t pull the trigger.  so back to our mission of securing an address. we found a brand new house in a brand new development to rent for less than a year.  done! so here we are – november 18th. the same moving company we moved to SF with was hired to pack us out, bikes shipped using a super cool app in SF called Shyp (they came to the house and picked up the bikes, packaged and shipped them), final cleaning, and turned over the keys.  we closed the door on our life in SF, and took a thirty six hour drive to the next phase.

the job, the house, the upstairs backyard all coming up. stay tuned….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

beyond the fruit

from beans to fruit was a chapter I will forever be grateful for.  the fruit opened so many opportunities for me.  allowed me to travel the world, create memories with my family and children I would have never dreamed of being able to do and to grow in a way that I didn’t know I had the capability to grow.

the fruit has also come with its own set of challenges.  I mean lets face it – nothing is perfect.  to live in the heart of san francisco was an experience that I’ll always remember fondly.  to have the california st cable car right in front of your house, a 1-3 block walk to the fruits commuter bus stop, and anything you can think you might want only a few clicks away – and deliverable to your door.  living in silicon valley is for sure like living in the future among the entitled and privileged twenty=something new money millionaires.  and the desire to live among young genius minds comes at a cost.  the cost of your perspective on how the rest of the country and world actually live.  the cost of having adequate square footage for your friends and family to spend an extended period of time with you.  the cost of simply living the life you dream of.   if there had been anyway to make our next chapter happen in the Bay Area – we would have done it in a heartbeat.  even with two great salaries there was no way we could afford to do what we are embarking on.  so we say goodbye to our way too small, but perfect apartment in the city with parking.  we say goodbye to midnight drives to the ocean to sit and listen to the waves crash in the dark.  we say goodbye to friends who have become family, to the network of amazing people we created to keep us sane, coiffed, centered & grounded, and full of amazing food/booze.  we say goodbye to the one hour drive to some of the best wines in the world over one of the most iconic bridges in the world.  we say goodbye to our neighborhood sushi restaurant, our dry cleaners who always greeted us with the biggest smiles and the most positive energy, to everyone at our hardware store who came to the rescue with options and solutions when we needed them.  we say goodbye to medical providers who take their relationship with their patients seriously, and support alternative methods of care. we say goodbye the neighbors in our building – the smiles and hello’s in the elevator, the welcoming of new puppies and babies, and the eye rolls when the new 22 yr old renter has an all night party.   we say goodbye to so many things connected to our life in San Francisco, but we know we can always go back for visits and act like the tourists that stick out like sore thumbs!  those experiences brought us to today, taught us what we needed to know about ourselves and each other in preparation for what’s next…from the fruit to honey & eggs & seeds & cheese & flowers & veggies.

I will become active here on S3A again, documenting our triumphs and tribulations, how we continue to learn and grow together, and on our own through this experience.  I don’t think I’ve been more excited, scared, hopeful, confident, and sure of anything before in my life.  here we go…. [smile]

 

reduction | week 6

today was my 30 day check up! hooray!! dr. Anthony has been so positive and supportive of my healing process. he got a big hug as he entered the room and a thank you for relieving my neck and back pain and for just being amazing. 

upon examination he was thrilled with my scars – thin, flat and in time he assured me that they would fade away beautifully. I have one spont on the right that for me hasn’t folded under they way the left has and he’s sure that as my swelling continues to decrease and my new perky girls continue to fall this spot will be hidden, but just in case it doesn’t he can take care of it with a small in office procedure. 

I didn’t mention that with my reduction I also had some body sculpting done. that has been where most of my healing  pain has come from. but dr. Anthony also said that where I am in recovery is great. I probably have another 2-3 months of swelling reduction, and weight loss to come. this has all been such a process, and required support of my family and friends (you’ve all been wonderful). 

so far I can sum up my recovery by week:

1: lots of pain, little movement, drugs. 

2: still lots of pain, a little movement but exhaustion from minimal exertion. tried to ween off the drugs – failed and used what I was given as instructed by nurse Taylor. 

3: naps, naps, naps! naps were amazing week three. I was moving around more, feeling much better, and managing pain with Advil. 

4: still napping, but oh my goodness the cooking goddess awoke and I was a beast in the kitchen!

5: finally started to see the new shape of things. stitches fully fell out. sleeping at night began to be more difficult as the sensitivity of my back shaping intensified. oh and the nipples……ON all the time and so sensitive which is good because I didn’t loose any feeling, but they are so embarrassing!! 

6: things are only getting better, but it’s a slow process. your body needs good foods, lots of rest and water to heal. I’m so happy that I’ve taken this much time off from work to recuperate. it’s been a blessing. 

next week I ease back into my 1.5 HR commute each way and the crazy politics of “The Fruit”. two days in the office and then fully back the following week. as my final days home come to an end, I’m making strawberry jam, slow cooking chicken and visiting the wholesale flower market weekly to keep our house in fresh arrangements. I’m photographing when I can, and excited that today’s check up gave me the green light for carrying more that 5lbs and working out. 

getting this reduction was the best decision and I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner – but everything happens when it’s suppose to. 

next check in will be at 3 months (September). thanks for following along!!! 

xoxo – nat

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reduction | week 2

today is officially 14 days since surgery and I’m doing better than I expected I would be. yesterday was my second check in with the doctor, and he was really pleased with my progress. 

he clipped knots in my stitches which will allow my new perky girls to fall naturally into their new shape – right now we are still pretty high, tight  and boxy. the craziest thing is the pain or pressure that has always been in my shoulders and upper back is completely gone. for those of you with small cups sizes or men out there reading this, imagine carrying a backpack with 20lbs in it but in reverse. so a 20lb front pack – strapped to you at all times. sleep with it, exercise with it, lounge around with it, cook, clean, play, get dressed up fancy with your 20lb front pack and then someone takes more than half the weight out of it. “ahhhhhhhh” literally is what my back is saying. 

the Dr took photos yesterday and showed us before and 14 days post op comparison.  I can’t believe I was that large and so extended, droopy, fallen, saggy, pendulous (that’s my favorite). we used the bend of my elbow as a point of reference for the then and now nipple position. let’s just say, I was once a permement resident of the elbow area and there is no chance of me visiting that region again!!  I could also see a huge improvement in my posture which was cool. my body is reacting to the decreased weight – all on its own!!

I fully stopped narcotics for pain a few days ago, and I think I’m having weird narcotic hot flashes or I’ve fully jump started menopause- the heat comes from no where and then fades away. it’s bizarre! 

we done some serious walking (every other day) and some serious napping. both are highly recommended. 

I still can’t lift or carrying things – nothing over a pound for about six weeks (love my Sherpas). and I have continued my acupuncture and homeopathic medicines which I believe both make a huge difference. I will be working on scar reduction for the next few weeks and we see the Dr at 30 days for the next check-up. 

thank you to everyone who has sent well wishes and gifts and flowers – you all know how much I LOVE flowers!!  

a special thank you to my daughter T, and to M for being the best recovery team a girl could have!! I love you both more than words!! 

unless there is breaking news, I’ll be back with the 30 day update. 

xoxo

(.) (.) <- littles!


p.s. – this is the hand drawn explanation from my surgeon of the procedure. you can kind of see the elbow bend landmark I described. 

I’ve also discovered lots of Drs on snapchat who film their reductions so I had a very clear understanding of what what going to happen during surgery. I have an odd sense of needing to know things. (weirdo!)

tata!  

reduction | week 1

so I was told I had to pull the day 1, 2 & 3 posts until I was less narcotically impaired!  the “cleaned” up versions went up a few days ago.  🙂 sorry if you stumbled through the raw rambling versions before I pulled them. LOL

week one has been roouugh.  I have to think things will get easier – they have to get easier. the hardest thing has been sleeping and getting comfortable for more than an hour at a time.  the pain has been really tolerable. I’ve been on tylenol only since day 4 and it’s really all i’ve needed (except at night to sleep).

the girls are very oddly shaped right now, but I have officially been released from the compression bra. itchy means healing and I know they have some dropping to do – so let the reshaping unfold.  it’s really hard to gauge my new size – really hard. dr said full D, but the realization of that is still weeks away. 

happy for a sunny day in San Francisco!

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