photos from top to bottom: the devastation that remains including the bathroom counter which was my refuge for five and a half hours.  And the healing beach– moving towards the light- sun in front and moon behind.  

As I have shared on social media, the early morning hours of January 9, 2018 forever changed my life.  Surviving the Montecito mudslide was a miracle – and let’s be clear, mudslide is so not an accurate description of what really happened.  Landslide, mountain falling, boulder dumping…  The extreme nature of what happened was unimaginable.  The sheer force and speed at which the mountain literally fell and closed in on us. Six weeks later the shock is wearing off and the aftermath of the trauma is manifesting.  I know it will be a process for me, for Napper, and for our four year old son, Ever, as well as the Montecito community.  I know that there is bright light and transformation on the other side of this experience.  Some days are magical and full of hope and happiness.  Other days are full of dread and anxiety and despair.  I know the more I put my energy and focus on the light, the closer I come to fully stepping into the transcendent space that this near death experience promises…  And so, 44 Gratitudes.

  1. That I woke up in time and screamed.
  2. That the sky was lit up by the fires raging so that I could see the mountain crushing in on us.
  3. That we had just moved in and hadn’t installed curtains yet so I could see.
  4. That Napper got to Ever in time.
  5. That Napper and Ever were safe in the upstairs bathroom and hadn’t stayed in Ever’s bedroom as that entire side of the house was ripped off and I watched wash away.
  6. That after over an hour of screaming (it was so very loud) Napper and Ever heard me and answered back that they were ok.
  7. That my baby was safe and that I wasn’t farther along (bigger and more unwieldy) in my pregnancy.
  8. That I didn’t jump out of the window in my bathroom.
  9. That the mud stopped an inch below my bathroom counter where I was able to sit for 5 and a half hours while waiting to be rescued,
  10. That I had some hand towels on the counter to keep me warmer- it was a freezing night and I had on my pajamas which were damp from the mud and rain.
  11. That our only injuries were scrapes, cuts and poison oak (all over the backs of my legs for almost a month!). That Ever was untouched.
  12. That I had my Lotus Wei “Inner Peace” essential oil on the counter with me and that I had the presence of mind to use it.  To breathe.  To stay calm.
  13. That the part of the house we three were in held.
  14. That our neighbor Curtis threw me a dry and warm towel to keep warm for the final hour before rescue.
  15. That brave and amazing Orion rescued me.  He put down surfboards from the garage so I could walk on top of the mud as I was barefoot.
  16. That Richard the fireman carried me on his back.
  17. That Lu, Hayden, Clio and Mom were totally fine.
  18. That Mom wasn’t staying in our guest house which got completely swept away.
  19. The shower at Lu’s and clean, dry, warm clothes.
  20. The hug and warmth of Reverend Aimee at All Saints and her getting us out of there on a National Guard truck.
  21. Cousin Andrew coming to pick us up at the triage center.
  22. The double rainbows over Santa Barbara on our way to Andrew’s.
  23. Andrew, Ivana and their three children, Brooks, Anja and Shane.
  24. Ivana bringing me tea, and all of her clothes to wear (undies included) and deluxe Chanel products to use.
  25. Kito bringing me a temporary phone, toiletries, clothes and toys for Ever. And for being our personal FEMA director throughout all of this!
  26. Having the Garden Street rental for 20 days and discovering the awesomeness of living downtown.
  27. The Tuttles generosity at letting us stay in their glorious home on the beach when we had nowhere else to go.
  28. The beach.
  29. Family, friends and strangers who brought and sent care packages, food, clothes, toys, flowers and funds. THANK you.
  30. Making new friends.
  31. Incredible generosity from these companies: Restoration Hardware, Doen, Hatch, Toad & Co., Goop, Monrow, Citizens of Humanity, Land’s End, Diani, Seavees, Buck Mason, Cake Santa Barbara, Glop and Glam/Mishay Salon, Rooms and Garden, Brasil Arts Cafe, Paradise Found, Anthropologie.
  32. Bright Start preschool taking Ever five days a week while All Saints was closed so that Napper and I could deal with insurance/housing and our own trauma and Ever could normalize as much as possible.
  33. The Bright Start and All Saints communities who provided so much for our family and for Ever especially through love, support, clothes, books, toys, blankets, dishes, step stools….
  34. Healers, body workers and therapists who have helped all three of us begin to heal- many of them donating their time.
  35. Friends organizing and hosting a healing circle/day for me.  Thank you especially to Belle.
  36. Friends who organized registries and donations for our family.
  37. That Lucy and I were prevented from picking up our new shipment of perfume due to the fires and it was safe in an LA warehouse.
  38. Friends who loaned us boxes, trucks and hands to move…  and move…. and move.  And move.
  39. Chubb Insurance coming through several weeks later after a fire determination was made.
  40. The lawyers and experts who have advised and counseled us for free.
  41. Finding a happy home to live in.
  42. Yoga and meditation.
  43. Our health.
  44. Most of all, I am grateful to Napper, Ever and this baby girl growing inside me.  For the LOVE.  And for LIFE.

xo,

Mary